Whatever Follows

dogwood on LakeviewWhatever might follow in the weeks ahead I have to say this has been one beautiful season, and in spite of the usual vacillations. Temperatures hit the mid-80s one day and four days later we came close enough to a hard frost that a baby maple I see every day took a nasty fright and went instantly crimson. Now as I write, a big wind is muscling around outside,  giving even the grass blades a stern combing-back.

I sometimes hear westerners say our old New England is just all damp and claustrophobic with lowering skies and too-near horizons.  I don’t see it that way. 

Anyhow it’s sure not that way now on these bright tangy days that have us all feeling happy and energized as we kick through the leaves and set out those jolly toy balloons that the world calls pumpkins. My own personal housemate got to feeling so energized last weekend that he climbed out on two of our roofs to prune the limbs of trees that in actual fact didn’t need pruning at all (but that’s just me.) I watched with my heart in my mouth as he executed one deep squat after another while balancing inches from roof’s edge and then extending to its farthest reach a 12-food pole with a lethal sickle on the end and – SNAP!  pulling the trigger. Here he is first contemplating the job…

dpm contemplating the job

And beginning to execute it…

dpm up hi to prune

I sent our visiting houseguest Machias out to spot him in case he started to pitch forward and fall. (Machias is six-foot-nine with a rower’s mighty legs so I thought he could maybe execute a rescue.)

machias spots him

 

 

 

 

But “I’M FINE!” insisted  my mate –

and by some stroke of luck he turned out to BE fine as this triumphant look testifies.

smilin' Dave on the roof w machias

Myself, I attempted no such feats of strength and balance that day. I just walked a few miles, set out some seasonal decorations and reveled in all this beauty.

Here was the sun that day, glowing still strong at 5pm, behind one of our front porch columns….

the porch oct 5pm

Then at the top here was the sun only moments later in the side yard, filtered through our little dogwood…

And finally, out back, here was the sun setting our neighbors’ tree even further aflame.

the neighbor's maple.jpg

All this was on the Saturday. Then, on the Sunday, we had the privilege of attending the wedding celebration of a couple who, together with their families, threw one amazing party.

the wedding of alli & angela.jpg

It took place on a hillside farm with 180 guests on hand to enjoy popcorn and cider, adult beverages of every kind and food that never stopped coming.

in the barn

Best of all, the two brides helped make the music. Bride Alli, from all I can tell, plays every instrument on God’s green earth and her band was playing; whereas Bride Angela, by her own admission not a trained singer, took the mic and spoke of the meaning this one particular song has for them both.  Then, at first softly, and then in full and glorious voice, performed “Hallelujah,”  by the late Leonard Cohen.

Here’s my favorite recording of this wonderful song, that today seems to me to capture all the beauty and longing of earth’s seasons, and even of our own too-short lives.

Advertisements

Some Last Thoughts on the Judge

img_0408Earlier this week I heard some things on NPR that gave me a slightly altered perspective on Brett Kavanaugh: Someone who knew him at Yale said he was always the one standing by the keg hoping to get the girl. “He never got the girl,” she added.

A friend who also knew him from Yale spoke of how surprised he and his friends all were to learn at graduation that he had done quite well, a fact he attested to last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Through his whole student career, Kavanaugh said, (rather inelegantly) “I busted my butt in academics.”

And, as we now know, he also partied. Fifteen times in his testimony he spoke of beer. “I drank beer. I liked beer. I still like beer.” He wouldn’t answer when asked if he had ever had so much to drink that he blacked out. With a face contorted by anger at the presumption of this question by Senator Amy Klobuchar, he said, “I don’t know Senator, have you?”

So here’s a man about whom it can be said that he worked hard and he partied hard. Perhaps in his mind, as in many of our minds, he thought that the one thing justified the other. Many if not all prosperous Americans feel they richly deserve the fancy car, the ski vacation Aspen, the commodious house surrounded by wide green lawns, and never mind that others in this country also work hard; work at two, even three, jobs and stand at bus stops both in the dark of morning and in the dark of night. They know they can never let loose and party hard because of the silent judgment directed toward those who have less, especially if they are people of color or people otherwise judged as ‘other’. Think of the still closely-held belief that reveals itself in that old American taunt, “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” That tells you what we value all right. The accumulation of wealth is the primary measure of a person’s worth.

Still, my mind keeps returning to this image of that 19- or 20- or 21-year-old boy who stood so often by the keg hoping to get the girl and rarely got her. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was virgin in high school and “for many years after.” I’ll admit I laughed out loud on hearing that last week in my car but maybe it was true. I know that most of my classmates were virgins in high school, as I was myself. And I dare say most of us stayed that way for one or two years after but not for ‘many years’. By the age of 19 or 20 most of us had begun seeing ourselves as adults and were getting about the business of living. And I do understand that the world was different then. This was in the later mid to late part of the 1960s. But in the self-indulgent, feel-good 80s Brett Kavanaugh was still clinging to his virginity for those many years he speaks of? That strikes me as both sad and unlikely.

I know the Senate will likely have cast their vote to move the nomination forward before I get these scattered thoughts posted. Still, I had to set them down. The Judge’s notions – as well our own notions of what we are entitled to – expose dark trends in our possession-loving American hearts. We want what we want and we’re sure we deserve what we want. And that’s the best way I can state it at the moment.