Wednesday, September 12, 2012


If you've kept up with my recent three essays on the Birdhouse, it has attempted to describe, sometimes with redundancy (cohesion comes strange), what has been happening around here, of late, with our back road and one troubling spot with one troubling family. There are a few outer satellites of people who have contributed by way of their private animosity and contempt, which has perked up and burped up and flubbed as they try to make something out of nothing, while a small but determined police force takes a look around. If you've got nothing to hide, you got nothing to worry about. The law says they are looking for the truth. So give them some. A police force in the woods is only as good as its leadership and assistance.

For ourselves, the police's presence has forced some of our neighbors to wake up, finally, to how they have been manipulated and duped, by a desperate individual (and perhaps associates?), and to maybe see what damage and heartache it has done to others, which may soon include themselves.

Speaking for myself, as a neighbor, and husband to the victim (Susan), I don't take any of this lightly. One wise old friend of ours, from far off, advises, "Hold your cards close." Nope, not this time. I mention no names, and won't, ever, it isn't my place, and I respect everyone's privacy, but I will zero in and nail down and sleep with you, if I have to, without touching, just to show what injustice and cruelness won't be allowed, to get to the bottom of this because, no one hurts the one I love. Woman, or earth.

When there were "19 witnesses", all bogus — because there were no "19 witnesses" within miles or ear shot of the altercation of this woman onto Susan on the day it happened — I watched Susan spiral and sadden into a deepness, which isn't good, at what had happened to this woodlands and river she loves. Her home. Nothing was making sense.

So it was time to make sense, real sense, not by simply watching lawmakers set up for their catch, but to enlist true spirits and doers and activists and workers and writers and educators and so many of them beautiful friends, to say a word or two as a character testimonial, at whatever their chosen length, for Susan. For fellowship. Believe me, everyone who has contributed: you are beautiful, and I know you have a very good idea what your contribution and precise timing has made for us right now.

It isn't enough to watch the lawmakers excel at their duties and diligence, often fitted into play by strict authority, intimidation, and shocking and obliging good manners. It's everything and blueberry pancakes to see people — the you's and me's — stop a moment and draw up from our pockets a skill at showing such enduring brotherhood. Thank you, every one of you. I hope this road I live on will one day wake up and see and feel and show they could be made of the same moxie as all of you.

And before these words were out of my mouth, some neighbors showed us this very thing. Just the other day, and this is how —

you know the folks I have often described as those using "fireworks"? Well, this morning they called us up and asked for a meeting. . .as soon as possible. They, of course, are not the troublemakers, but folks who seem confused and caught in the crossfire of bad acts and worse results. They wanted to come clean. Good friends had just left after a lovely day and overnight visit with us, and this visit was a blessing since it had been a long time in the making, and allowed a certain dark passage of time (the trouble here) to get shook and poked at and maybe broke open. I can't tell you how, I can only tell you I felt something. It was the start of maybe something better and better, maybe even a buckling to the crap, and a re-awakening for many involved.

We walked over to our neighbors, by sunshine, then into our woodlot, on a narrow path, out of the trees and onto their driveway and up to their kitchen door where we were welcomed inside into an immediate apology of profuse and genuine explanations. Followed by their questions and a vigorous conversation, minted by deep mugs of tea. This meant they wished for us to stay. Wished to get things off their chests and likewise take on some solid facts. We gave them the facts. Then we were shown all the home, upstairs and down, many of the rooms were private, and we were being welcomed. It was a thorough and remarkable repentance, with a generosity as if they were doing it from themselves, plus a world incapable. We could only feel calm and calmer.

Little did they know, and why should they? when they showed us one room, it was the very room I held a dying friend with cancer twenty-five years ago, as I helped move him down the hallway from there to the bathroom. I hadn't been in the bedroom or on these blond varnished floors since. Little did they know, or did I, when we returned to our home from this house would we find a phone message from his widow saying today was the anniversary of his passing. And my wife and I haven't heard from her since the cow jumped over the moon. While a half hour before, I was standing in the room where my friend expired. I don't need anyone to tell me it was my dying friend who brought us back to his house today via these lovely new neighbors, his calling widow, his guiding hand. My old friend doesn't like seeing what he is seeing. My old dying friend, as when alive, is trying to help us where he can. Help the new neighbors where he can. My old dying friend would never be called a ghost, but more a guardian angel. I could never call him dead.

Sometime, in the afternoon, looking at one another, it made Susan realize and start to cry.

No one should be trapped in a greater hopelessness.

We feel there is a break through — amongst all our friends, the pursuit of some neighbors, the living and dying who will assist. "Often I am permitted to return to a meadow."


Yes indeed.

Robert Duncan

photo © susan arnold
"green river early 70s"