Saturday, January 11, 2020

The road home ....

"He knew his life was little and would be extinguished, and that only darkness was immense and everlasting. And he knew that he would die with defiance on his lips, and that the shout of his denial would ring with the last pulsing of his heart into the maw of all-engulfing night."
  Thomas Wolfe,  "You Can't Go Home Again"
The hill
Tom Wolfe was a writer of novels, dramas, short stories and novellas. One of his books was the novel, "You Can't Go Home Again," published in 1940, about two years after his death. Much of his work was autobiographical and impressionistic.
Seeing this ice-covered road brought the title of the novel immediately into my mind. This Dakota road was among my challenges to "get home again" for a few years. In winter, it often was a sheet of solid ice as it is in this photograph taken a few weeks ago. More than once the vehicle I was in slid down it, usually when going up it and failing to travel higher than the point where the road appears to end, sometimes turning completely around a few times, twice going off the road. There were occasions, when after a few failed attempts to reach the "summit," I parked at the bottom and walked up it, then another mile and one-half or so to my house.
A photograph might tell a thousand words, but these do not reveal the entire story of "my" hill. The second photo shows a bit of the twists and turns in the road as it approaches the hill. Try getting your vehicle up to a level of speed while managing to stay on the road rounding the those curves and the sixty-degree one at the base and then slip and  slide and fishtail and spin your way to the top.
And, the top of the hill is not even visible in the first photograph -- it goes on for another thirty yards, then has a ninety-degree uphill turn followed by another sixty-degree uphill turn before finally leveling out about a total of another hundred yards out of sight in the photo.
I made up my mind early on to think of reaching the top as a game and actually became quite adept at making the run -- and, enjoying the winter wonderland walk in the dark those instances I did not make it all the way. Sometimes my trek would be following the road, at other times cutting through the woodland .... what better way to find uninterrupted time for thinking? I also like to believe that years of driving on icy roads and my misspent youth racing cars on frozen lakes gave me and edge for handling this hill, too.
All this, of course, has little to do with the story of the protagonist in Wolfe's novel except for me to transfer the notion of going home from a mostly psychological to a primarily physical challenge. I will save the mostly psychological element for another day. By the way, the book is well worth reading, as are all of Wolfe's works ....


Anita said...

But hell waht som icy roasd!!

Hah hah must be nice to drive there around:)))

Here we only have cold and blast and strong strong icy (hagl)storms.No snow in the low land but many are happy about that.People of Norway long for spring!!
Good post fram.
I have not read that book you mention..-i shall lokk for it..

Ok stay strong and be happy


Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for coming and for writing a comment for me, Anita.

The hill and the road made life interesting in a way. It was a gravel road that turned to mud when the frost went out in the spring and the snow melted. I am not sure what created the most problems .... sliding on ice in winter or getting hung up when bottoming out in mud in spring. What really was a problem was whipping around the curve at the bottom with (hopefully) enough speed to reach the top and seeing a car coming down the hill and having to stop and "slide" back down.

It was a private road. Few people lived there, and those of us who did bore the expenses for maintaining it. It was not much more than a wide, one-lane road when I lived there.

In most other ways, it was a near-perfect place to live.

I was introduced to Thomas Wolfe as a college boy when his first novel, "Look Homeward, Angel," was assigned reading in an American literature class. He died at age 37, with more of his writing published after his death than while he was living. He was a complex individual, and I enjoy reading and thinking about what he wrote.

It is another gray, overcast day here, but you always bring the sunshine for me, Anita ....

Liplatus said...

The path of life can be slippery and dangerous.
Drive slowly down the road.
There is symbolism in the photograph.

It is a snowy winter.
There's no snow here.

Fram Actual said...

It usually was more difficult and worrisome trying to get up the hill than it was coming down it. In a way, I miss it and the adrenalin it created. I have had more than a few adventures and some misadventures related to snow and ice on roads and on lakes. Although most people seldom think about it, with every step we take we walk in the shadow of death.

This region is notorious for its blizzards and it is fascinating to read pioneer accounts of winter storms killing dozens at times. As a boy I loved to take my dog and head out across a frozen lake in a ground blizzard and camp out overnight, then move along to another place the next day and set up another camp. A high school friend and I stayed out for a week in an ice house we built during Christmas vacation one year.

We are in the midst of a snowstorm at the moment. Up to this point, cold temperatures have been our greatest burden. Last year, the snow came in force about mid-January and hammered us until the end of March. I hope we will not have a duplicate performance this season.

I have backtracked you to your new blog and will go there in a while. I feel badly about your previous blog, and hope you will be able to salvage it. I also hope karma will be visited upon the thieves in an appropriate manner.

I am glad you came to visit me, Liplatus, and pleased that you left a comment for me. Thank you. In the meanwhile .... stay safe / stay healthy / be happy ....

Liplatus said...

The shadow of death has been in my thoughts now and also with great sorrow. My dear young person recently passed away unexpectedly.
I also remember my childhood, when I was still living in the north, the frost was almost 40 degrees.
I have tried very hard to bring the contents of the old blog to my new blog, but I did not succeed. I too wouldn't want to give up an old blog.
When my blog got unauthorized, I didn't check my blog for months.
Have a nice week!

Fram Actual said...

I send my sincerest sympathy for your loss, Liplatus.

The longer an individual lives, the more we experience the presence of death in our lives. The words of English poet and cleric John Donne are indelibly etched in my mind:

"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...."

My former wife and I experienced the death of an infant on January 17 a number of years ago, and I know we never have gotten over it. We both were very young, and I am sure the loss became one of the reasons we went our separate ways.

I also feel badly about what happened to your blog. I know a piece of me is part of mine, and losing it would pain me greatly. Time, thought, work and creativity all go into most of my posts. In some ways, I do not think it is worth all the effort, but it does serve a definite personal purpose for me so I do it for self-satisfaction and a degree of contentment.

I like your blog and enjoy it, Liplatus, and I admire you for your evident talent and intellect and curiosity. Thank you, for being here again.

By the way, my blog is set up so that comments made a week or two after a post is published require my approval. That is why they sometimes are not immediately visible.

Take care, be safe, be strong, be happy .... no matter what happens during it, I believe life is a gift and an opportunity to learn and, maybe, something someday we all will understand ....

Something special ....