At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Do So Love This

Love the song

The lyrics

The halting, plaintive voice

That catch in the throat

The sentiment

The truth of it


Had me an angel or two

Gone and died

This broken heart

Needs an angel

(And I’m not alone in this)

Someone to pull me through

The midnight rain

* * *

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wanting Memories

Friday night was rough.

A friend remarked how much he missed his dad. 

It doesn’t take much to open the floodgates on Father’s Day weekend.  The emotions had been building for weeks as promotional flyers offering Father’s Day “Specials” filled my mailbox.  There were gift suggestions, recipes especially for dad, dad this, dad that.

My father died twenty-four years ago.  Been missing him daily ever since.  Father’s Day weekend?  It’s a fearsome, searing longing.

Friday night was rough.  Emotions bubbled to the surface in waves of loud, very loud, very raw music.  Tears.  Wine glass after wine glass.  Red-rimmed eyes at dawn.

* * *

I’d begun training in earnest several weeks ago for a Century ride.  I was to cycle for three hours Saturday (40-45 miles).  As a cyclist, one begins studying weather forecasts in earnest.  Matters such as temperature, wind speed/direction and thunderstorms become more significant.  I knew that riding as early as possible Saturday morning was my only chance for something other than a hellish venture.  As matters stood, even at dawn, the temperature was climbing rapidly towards what was to be a high of 90-plus degrees.  It was humid and a steady south wind was already shaking the trees at 10+ mph.  It was to grow windier as the day progressed and powerful storms muscled into the area. 

Sleepless though I was, red-rimmed eyes notwithstanding.  I saddled up.

I suppose it was a good thing I was kinda numb at the outset.  I planned to ride some twenty miles straight south, into that stiff wind, so that the return ride on tired legs wouldn’t be as taxing.  I hadn’t yet ventured that far south this season.  I figured I’d explore new roads, given that my training program will have me travel ever greater distances over the course of the summer.

South is a good direction for me.  To my south are endless fields, few people, very few towns.  The farms grow more expansive.  Nearer the city, the rural areas are dotted with hobby farms.  The big money food factories are deeper in the hinterlands.  I rode myself into “big sky” country...vast fields undulating under wide open skies.

The sun had risen appreciably over the course of an hour, but the slanting light remained gorgeously saturated still.  Stretched before me were hay fields shorn earlier.  Rolls and bales were waiting patiently to be transported.  As they waited, they exhaled their perfume, one of my all-time favorite aromas. 

And so it came to be that I became lost in celestial light, heavenly scents, evidence of earth’s bounty and magnificence.  And I began to hear inside my head, a song that I have long loved:

Wanting Memories

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
You used to rock me in the cradle of your arms,
You said you'd hold me till the pains of life were gone.
You said you'd comfort me in times like these and now I need you,
Now I need you, and you are gone.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
Since you've gone and left me, there's been so little beauty,
But I know I saw it clearly through your eyes.
Now the world outside is such a cold and bitter place,
Here inside I have few things that will console.
And when I try to hear your voice above the storms of life,
Then I remember all the things that I was told.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when i was young.
I think on the things that made me laugh, made me dance, made me sing.
I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride.
I think on these things, for they are true.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I thought that you were gone, but now I know you're with me,
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear.
I know a please a thank you and a smile will take me far,
I know that I am you and you are me and we are one,
I know that who I am is numbered in each grain of sand,
I know that I've been blessed again, and over again.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
To see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

* * *      

Thank you, Father, for these tears of gratitude.

* * *

Monday, June 11, 2012

Entre Chien et Loup

I learned a new phrase today.  I learned several variants: “L’heure entre chien et loup” is my favorite. 

A literal translation would be: “the hour between dog and wolf.”  The common French usage?  It’s a reference to those ambiguous hours we English call dawn, dusk or twilight.  What I love about this term, this phrase, is that it carries within it so many layers of meaning. 

Ya just gotta love four words strung together that can send you on a crazy mind-bender.

The French linguist would explain that the term refers to a specific time of day, when the light is such that one can’t distinguish between a dog or wolf.  A Scot may refer to this as the “darking” hour or “the gloaming.”  It doesn’t surprise me at all that folks who tend to flocks in fog-shrouded valleys and moors would have a certain reverence for the ambiguous light that complicates the matter of distinguishing friend from foe - the dog from the wolf.

It’s the ambiguity that intrigues.

In that hour between dog and wolf, we can’t know if we’re safe or threatened.  We can't be sure if our eyes deceive, if we truly know what we think we know.  We’re caught somewhere between comfort (ignorant bliss?) and fear.  It’s good, of course, to be able to distinguish between the two, but...I’ve never mastered that.

I seem to be perpetually lost in “L’heure entre chien et loup.” 

* * *

* * *

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Another Spill

Just a coupla weeks ago, I noted that the harder I pedal, the more perilous the ride.

Well, I had me another spill two days ago.

I wish I could claim it was just another heroic episode in a series of epic, death-defying adventures as told by bronze, immortal Adonis, me.

Yeah.  I wish.

The bald truth is that I came to a bad end whilst trying to stop for a rest break after two+ hours of continuous cycling.  I was far more spent than I realized.  Far clumsier than I wish to admit.  My pedal cleats worked exactly the way they were engineered to work.  My synapses and reflexes?  They function erratically.

It was kinda a slow-motion fall.  I knew I was gonna fall before I fell.  Funny thing, I didn’t suffer that much personal damage, as in skin lost and blood spilled.  Elbow blood mostly.  Of course, at the rate I’m going, these county roads will have extracted a pound of flesh by harvest time...but that’s still a long ways off.  I wasn’t so much physically hurt as decidedly upset with myself.  Sure, I lost a bit o’ skin.  Lost a drop o’ blood or two.  But I looked at my bicycle and noted I bent the brake lever.  Tore the handlebar tape to shreds.  Ripped the saddle.  Rolled the tire right off the rim.  Tore my jersey at the shoulder and tore my shorts at the hip.    Oh, Sweet Jeebus, now I gotta pay for my mishaps with coin of the realm!  That’s just salt in the wounds, brothers and sisters.  Salt in the wounds.

As I sat by the side of the road, remounting the tire on the rim and reflecting upon my doofusness/doofosity, I realized that what I needed most in life was a cycling buddy.

Someone who’d extend a hand to help me back on my feet.  Someone to objectively survey the damage and offer reassurance (or call for an ambulance).  Someone to sit next to me, swatting at flies, while I fixed a flat.

Someone who’ll be glad I’m all right, while noting how hysterically funny /stupid I looked whilst crashing.

Yeah, I need me one of those.

Meanwhile, I went to my local drugstore and bought me an industrial-size bottle of “Pain Relieving Antiseptic Spray.

Methinks I’m gonna need it.

I've got a 20-mile “tempo ride” planned for tomorrow morning.

Pray for me.

* * *

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Reckoning With Reality

Smiler asked me a simple question:  “Why the past tense Jonas? Do you not paint anymore?”

The question was simple enough.  The answer?  Rather complicated.

I pondered the question as I pedaled for hours against a gusty west wind.  I pondered the question as I cooked my dinner.  I pondered this question all day long.

The answer?  There’s more than one.

I think back on my youth and all my creative endeavors.  I taught myself how to paint with oils, dedicating long hours to brushes and palette knives, turpentine, tinctures and linseed oil.  I hungered to learn the craft, to learn if I, too, could be a painter.  I mastered the techniques.

And discovered I was no artist.

I wrote “poetry” in great volume.  Discovered I was no poet.

I beat on drums, but realized I was never destined to be a drummer.

I devoted myself to a great many undertakings.  In so doing, I discovered my limitations and true talents.

It wasn’t my destiny to be an artist, a poet or a musician.

What I did well was marshal resources to clean up hazardous waste sites.

I discovered I could manage people and budgets to achieve goals that differed greatly from those I had once envisioned for myself.  Despite my cherished, youthful dreams, there is something to be said for cleaner water and less-toxic soils (for others, mostly).

I discovered my true talents and, in so doing, suffered a great deal of personal regret...while enjoying a significant measure of satisfaction.

* * *

Then there is the matter of Time.

There was a time when my energy was boundless.  There was a time when I was young, when crackled within me more energy than that of a nuclear reactor.

I faintly recall those days.  I marvel they ever existed.

I’m a seventh-decade denizen.  My body?  As stalwart as it has been, it’s now held together by baling wire and bubble gum.  The fires that once burned so fiercely and so bright have morphed to embers.

That’s simply the way Life is.  I thought myself immortal...once.  I know better now.

* * *

And, finally, there’s this:

I no longer seek fame or fortune, conquest or glory.

I content myself with simple meals, simple pleasures and modest explorations of the world around me. 

Nowadays, I seek to appreciate more than I hunger to achieve.

And so it is that I have come full circle.  While I once aspired to be all and do all, I’ve come to deeply appreciate those who have truly achieved mastery within my diverse fields of dreams.  I’ve dabbled enough in so many things to understand just how difficult it is to master...anything.

Our lives are what they are.  Too short, too constrained, too demanding, too tiring,

Even so...

It’s been an amazing experience.

* * *

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