On the Vista Walk.
I walk a block away from my condo and turn right at Bungalow Joe. “Bungalow Joe” is on a large sign above the front door of a small house. In the front yard is a large thick section of a cut tree trunk. Near the front door is a ceramic Southern belle wearing a long hoop skirt. She has long golden hair. Over the pane above the door is taped the picture of a grizzly bear. There is a fenced side and back yard with lawn chairs. The place is neatly kept.
As I approach to cross the highway, I hear the clip-clop of hooves and exchange waves and smiles with an Amish family in their horse and buggy as they pass by.
The walk out to the vista, about fifteen minutes away, is an unpaved street, but I will cross the two other paved streets in the town.
It is 6:30 pm, early August, and the sky is still overcast after the afternoon rain. I wondered at first if I’d be more comfortable with a light jacket. There’s a slight breeze, and it doesn’t feel warm enough to be a summer evening.
I walk to the southwest. There’s not much business at the Roadhouse, only three cars and a truck. As I pass a small rustic A-frame, two bluebirds fly across my path, making small swoops near the road before veering into a hedge.
At the corner of the next block is a small house that I like to pass because there are three Russian olive trees and two aspen trees in the yard. I particularly like the Russian olives, with their silver-green leaves.
Wildflower on the roadside are now yellow and white. The purple, red, and orange ones are no longer here.
It’s quiet. One family is cooking out, and the cooking steaks smell delicious.
At the end of the road the vista opens—just open land as far as I can see, verdant, reaching to the base of the mountains beyond. Fairly close is a large ranch. A mile or so from ranch I get a glimpse of the town cemetery. I stand gazing for a while, awed by the vastness of the open space and thankful I can witness it and be a part of it.
I turn and walk west. Over the Sangres loom massive white clouds trying to block the sun, an hour or so before it goes behind the mountains.
As I turn to return home, I see dark, deep clouds with jagged lightning bolts over the Wet Mountains. I see that this storm system is moving to the north and east, away.
I stop at the highway. There is a truck coming from town but nothing coming from the canyon. Seeing me waiting, the driver of the truck slows down, stops, and motions for me to cross. That often happens. Then a block to Bungalow Joe and a block home, one walk on the Vista Walk completed.
This Week’s Note to Eva.
This week, Eva, I listened to a recording of my favorite symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. It tells me that at the core of the Creation is deep, unbounded, overflowing joy. We should listen to it together and enjoy its mirth while me make skols with vodka or red wine. Sending love, your friend, Bill.
In Our Newspaper.
The local newspaper has been in print since 1883. It is published each Thursday.
Each week it has a masthead with a quotation. On Thursday, August 1: “Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problem. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they do or say, don’t you doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on shining like you do.” —Steve Stabile
This, from “Sheriff’s Blotter—Animal Related”:
”On Wednesday, July 17 at 10:42 am on Chadwick Lane, deputies responded to a report of a bear attempting to break into a home.”
”On Sunday, July 28 at 4:25 p.m. on South Street, a deputy responded to a report of two mules on the road.”
At the Renaissance Festival.
The Renaissance Festival is a yearly fair held in a large meadow and surrounding hillsides in Larkspur, CO. I met friends there, and we spent five hours outside seeing the sights. It was a beautiful summer day, in the mid-80’s, bright and sunny. The setting is filled with Ponderosa pines, firs, and spruces, often growing closely together to make dappled shade in areas.
There were many booths selling frippery galore: jewelry, incense, oils, rocks and minerals, hats, clothing, drinking gourds and flagons, furniture, walking sticks, leather goods, kilts, umbrellas, hats, toys, bird whistles, woolen goods. There were several food booths and roaming vendors selling pretzels and bags of kettle corn carried on large staves. One pretzel vendor shouted, “It’s Sunday! I have holy bread!”
There were photo booths and fortune telling booths. There were several rides. The King’s Swing was a large swing that could sit six people across. It was propelled by two men. It was decorated with colorful ribbons. There was a elephant ride, protested by a groups on the highway into the fair grounds.
Many visitors came in costumes. There was a large, noisy crowd, and people-watching was my favorite activities there.
Just as we finished lunch at a picnic table under evergreens, the grand parade passed by. There were lords and ladies, jousters on horseback, a unicorn, jesters, the king and queen, washer wenches riding on an elephant, a band with drums, horns, and bagpipes, archers and Robin Hoods and Maid Marians, women dancing with scarves, fairies, and revelers wearing outrageous masks.
We went to the show of the Washer Wenches. It was about forty minutes of crude, sexual humor. If the crowd did not make great noise, the two women flung wet clothing about, wetting the audience. They asked for volunteers or appointed people, all men, to join them on stage, where they were smelled, licked, groped by pantomime, and flattered. The men were good sports and often improvised along with the wenches.
We went to a musical show called Celtic Heritage. As we sat down, the band was playing the plaintive love ballad “O Waly, Waly” but with four drums and two bagpipes, the ballad sounded like a declaration of victory of war. The performers urged the audience to be loud in applause and shouts. The music quickly veered away from Celtic, to include “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” with a skit about Africa. What can you do with four drums and two bagpipes? Rhythm and loud droning. There was no variation in dynamics; everything was forte. During the finale, “Amazing Grace,” fire was emitted from the bagpipes. Celtic heritage, forsooth!
We walked to the parking area. They found their car easily, but I looked about ten minutes for mine. I did not like parking in the meadow because the car crushed wildflowers where I parked. Traffic out of the fair was much less than traffic on arrival earlier. My friends and I checked into a hotel in Colorado Springs and went out to a superb Mexican dinner. In the morning, we met for a buffet breakfast at the hotel and said good-bye soon afterwards. That was a good overnight vacation from home.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Bailey White, Sleeping at the Starlite Motel and Other Adventures on the Way Back Home. Addison-Wesley, 1995.
Bailey White was in Denver many years ago for a book signing and reading at the Tattered Cover Book Store. I attended with friends visiting from out of state. By the time we arrived, the room was filled and we had to stand at the side. To a comment about the preponderance of eccentric characters in the South, White answered, “Well, if you don’t think the West has just as many, you are fooling yourself.” In this book she write about many interesting characters, many of them family members. She write about their foibles and eccentricities with kindness, humor, and affection. Other essays tell of her adventures. There are thirty-seven short essays.
Essays about Characters: Through White’s perceptive eye, we encounter, among others, a grandmother charged with sprinkling a deceased’s ashes, having to choose times to do so, since her husband forbids it; a reunion of family members, each of which has one of set of chairs about which they must tell a story; Red, the Rat man, an exterminator who “knew and understood rats”; a great-aunt in growing senility, cared for by a nephew, who provides dedicated service until one day he acts wildly and roles are thereafter reversed; a folk artist who obsessively talks on moonlit nights to statues she has made; an aunt who saves her decaying house by selling a Civil War artifact; the owner and operator of a fish camp in central Florida, who expresses interesting and insightful views about her clients and job; an old hippy who sells fruit trees; an old man, “a solitary man,” who trains Tennessee walking horses; a particularly disagreeable, unpleasant, condescending old woman at a wedding reception; an an aunt who has trained an alligator to “bellow on command,” and a man who is visiting to record the sound.
Essays about activities: We see White as she learns about folk art, visits a one-room schoolhouse in Vermont, visits a coastal island in winter, swims in the “world’s largest and deepest spring,” visits a state park in the Florida panhandle, which locals believe was the site of the Garden of Eden, but which through details she shows to be “Hell on Earth”; spelunking.
The essay “Computer Class” is a tale of adventure in which White and a colleague in her elementary school attend class to learn about computers from an inept instructor. After the course, they will return to the school to teach other teachers. They decide to skip classes, break into their school to learn and read the instruction manual of the computer in the library, and then fill out their nightly lesson times by going to the race track. There the improbable happens. The character Mrs. Boatwright is one of the most interesting characters I’ve encounter, and the reader finds her maverick attitude refreshing.
I admire those who write lyrical prose. I’ve enjoyed a yearly reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wale” by Dylan Thomas, and I’ve read Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s lyrical novel Sunset Song several times. White holds her own with the essay “Sleeping at the Starlite Motel.” Composed of three imagined incidents and people, it describes the comfort of the motel in lyrical phrases, such as: “Only one towel, one wash rag, and one thin cake of soap are provided per guest, but the towel is thick, the wash rag is dense, and the soap is Ivory.”
I first read the book the year it was published, and I like it even more on second reading. When I finished it, I put it back onto the shelf, looking forward to another reading in a few years.
Thank you for reading. I welcome comments.