A Steady Hand

August 13, 2017

Nogal House

Vera Cruz, New Mexico


A Steady Hand


For those I love the most:


I might have titled this the hearth and the fire but either name is fitting. I started my day as I am like to do by building a fire in the hearth. The practice is a good one for me, meditative and filled with reverence for the effort and the blessings. What better way to find ones knees and reason for a word of thanks as the new day begins? It takes some effort and the gas stove can achieve the same results, but it lacks the spiritual return. I need that return, in as great a measure as possible. Even if my life is so full of richness it is still a necessity. If I am burning walnut and mulberry I also toss in something aromatic and the waft of juniper or rosemary is medicinal, bringing a sigh of happiness I might otherwise miss.


The fire going and my water heating on the hearth I walked down to my shed to start the generator. I always top it off so I have a full run if needed and did the same this morning. I had raised and tipped the gas can to get the dredges when a spider, one of the biting kind, ran around the base. I might have dropped it, or at least spilled some gas, but set it down quickly instead. The spider cleared I raised the can again only to have a bird fly in the open doorway and flutterer frantically against my leg before she righted herself and departed! The rare encounter and the feel of her wings against my leg elicited a laugh. Hah, I didn’t spill a drop and it was that rare morning that there was no splash to wipe clean before I finished. I started the generator and returned to my fire.


I knelt again at the hearth on the soft blanket that I leave there. I exchanged my water for my oatmeal, dropped a tea bag in the pot and stirred the coals back to life. I build but a small fire as there is no need for anything more, but must tend to it as well. The draught of smoke was a pleasure though I reflected for a moment on the same. I will carry a bit of it with me if I go to town, and it will beg for a comment if I do. That mountain woman perfume is a strong one. I will add the touch of patchouli if I go, though I am like to stay here also. If I go anywhere I will walk fence and explore little more of the wilderness it encompasses. I have only the roughest part to check though, and it will be a good hike! If my efforts give me access to firewood the reward of the mountains peacefulness would nearly be enough!


Yesterday I picked and sold my peaches at the farmers market and took some artwork also. My tree, so weakened by age and so many droughts put forth its best this year. If I have been here for fourteen years I have never had a peach, this year there were hundreds! Having pruned it faithfully until recently I was able to harvest all but a few of the highest branches. If the fruit was small and hail damaged so it was sweet and before the morn was through word of mouth and a few free fruits brought people to my tailgate. It makes me wish I had a garden as the market was lively enough to support one. I sold some art as well, making the prospect of that another viable possibility, for an income is a must. If I have no desire to return to the mainstream I will have to support myself somehow.


So it is I write an ode to simplicity this morning, as I so often herald the same. My lot is not unique but my means is a little different. There are few who would wish to trade places with me but they share my sentiments also. Though we all have our necessities mine have never been fewer, nor harder to maintain. As always what I need is far simpler than the means of attaining them, though that too is simple enough. In returning here I am learning the art of staying still, even if I am busy at doing so. I have ventured hardly anywhere and limit my travails to necessity. If I need food, water, ice and gas, only then will I go to town. My limited funds require such frugality and I gladly acquiesce as I would rather stay here. It had been years since I was focused on my basic needs before those of anything else, and I find the practice fulfilling. The lack of distraction is more precious than any gain I might find elsewhere.


I go forward today with the knowledge of a steady hand, and a deep breath of wood smoke. If I prefer the utter silence even the hum of the generator is a comfort. There will come a day there will be solar panels, as I have yet to seek that goal. There will also be some greater effort to attain that, and a few other basic niceties. I somehow lost sight of some of that, even if it remained in the forefront. One becomes distracted by the effort to earn all those dollars and in the presence of such fruition, it will also fill those voids. If I have never been extravagant I have spent my money freely. It is so easy to do when it is in plentitude only to realize in its absence how much has gone to waste. I will waste no more! Though I have always been mindful of the exchange, the hours of my life equating to dollars earned, so those hours have become as precious as they have ever been.


Hours become days, days become weeks and months and as we spend them they also become years. I have considered that often but even as three of the most important people in my life near the ends of their travails, I must consider my demise also. I may live, as they have, into my eighties or even nineties if I am so lucky, or I may not. I watch as each of them cling to what remains, and the one most like myself holds on the hardest! He still speaks of more adventure though he can barely raise his feet to be rolled across the floor. He can walk but it is painful and slow, and he falls often. He is too stubborn to get in the wheelchair as he knows, in his heart, he won’t ever get back out. He would rather struggle to walk than relinquish that belief that he might yet get well and return to the life he has lived. He still speaks of it.


Of the other two, my ‘uncle’ Len, so like LB, struggles to even live and my mother seems to be relinquishing her efforts, though she still has the strength to recover. This becomes a learning curve for us all, as it is meant to be. I want to fly to California to give dear Len one more parting hug and kiss, as he means the world to me. It pains me to be unable to justify the expense and the effort to do so considering my current circumstance. Having been there so recently I will have to make it good. We had a wonderful visit and he knows how much I love him. He is in good hands and I know he’ll be ok. I want to fly to New York to see my mother also, in case she slips away. I called her just days ago and asked her if she was ok. She said, “No.” We talked a little more but she was tired and vague and it broke my heart to hear the resignation in her voice. I might could brighten her world for a moment if I went there to visit but she would also slip back away as I left. The knowledge of this is painful, but again, I would be there and leave. It has been my choice to be where I am, and so far from those I love. It is a necessity also, as I could never thrive where she is.


I will go visit LB as often as I can, we live but an hour apart. He and Noni have been my surrogate parents for the past thirty seven years, though I never see them often enough either. I have made a promise to do that now as I have the time to do so. The sparkle in that old man’s eyes is an inspiration which will forever follow me. I can recall from years back how he would slip away on some adventure when he could, returning with precious stones and stories. He still speaks of the same, and of going once again to those wilderness havens. He is done traveling, but his mind still takes him there, and I love him for that. I will be content to listen to his stories, and share a few more of mine before he leaves us. I will take away from that what I am speaking of today, a reverence for the fire and the smoke and the beauty of this life, that that can’t be bought.


I will wield my chainsaw and my pen for as long as my hands and mind remains steady, and be thankful for the chance. From this moment forward I will make every effort to maintain the mindfulness which is required to live my life to it’s very fullest, with or without the monetary returns I have strived for. Instead I will find the means to share my skills and my knowledge in hopes of such returns while living each day as fully as I can. In the end I need so little and as always, when my feet are on the right path, my requirements are fulfilled. It is so easy to forget that, and to become frantic and to think I must go above and beyond to accomplish the same. In the stillness I remember and even as the peaches slipped so softly into my hands, I am reminded of that. All I need is a steady hand…………


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