Friday, August 24, 2012


Ansel Adams at work

[ Letter to Richard ]

We’re now in that string of three months that Sweetheart and I love the most — August September October. Part harvest time, part getting in those last lovely days of summer which often can leak into early November, and part moving and grooving toward serious preparation for winter. This means firewood. Even though this year’s wood and even next year’s wood is all taken care of, the mighty squirrel nature of the true New Englander is all the time moving at and thinking about fuel. Food from the garden and the orchard, firewood from the woodlot. All paths must head that way.

Yesterday I painted the front of the house and tied in and have now finished all the house over the summer. I let things wait on the front because the sun blazes there all June and July and by late August what paint I put on earlier, even if it is high quality Benjamin Moore, would be bleached down from a true brightness. If the nutty Global Warming gods wish to do as they wish (and they have been) we could have August weather until December. So be it then, never argue with the gods. Complain to them, but argue they don’t know.

I painted the front of the house in a few strokes less than a gallon of paint. The china bristle brush I have maneuvered and maintained and babied for ten years. I’ve done many house paintings with this one brush. The ladder I got free once as an exchange for something entirely different. The clean-up water was free. The soap probably cost 5-cents at most. My paint clothes are easily ten years old. So the cost, minus labor in the sun and joy and breeze of the day, to keep up the front of a house appearance, comes to around $35.05. I wait until the paint goes on sale in the spring at 30% discount and buy it then. Five gallons at once. Put it away for execution day(s). The house is all painted now for another year. May it bleed blood red through the winter snows.

I love your favorite writers lists. Never any arguments or complaints from me. We never have to agree about anything, and we are always fluent and agreeing! This, I believe, is one more secret in life. I won’t name names but I was friends with some fine American poets in my time — thinkers, doers, creators, philosophers, and almost every one seemed ruined by their opinions. As if their opinions mattered! They do, and they don’t. What matters is what you actually do and perform and make and create with your opinions, and how best they dovetail with existence. Life, relationships, love and balancing. It’s all about existence. Always has been.

I read David Brooks this morning in the Times. I always think the man, by his looks, should be more thoughtful and balanced in his outlook on life. But somehow he comes across almost berserk, while remaining thoughtful in appearance. Are our media minds being paid by the banks? How in the world can such a good mind even begin to justify the likes of a Willard Romney and his skinny sidekick a la 6th “son” Paul Ryan? Both are destructive snake oil salesmen. They know nothing about balance, nor anything about this existence I’ve been speaking to.

America is filled with bewilderment. It can’t be played with by strict laws. It has to be understood and guided, along with laws. It has to be thoughtful, even when a great deal of the problem is thoughtlessness. For some reason this has become lost in the mind of a great many Americans. You look at the lay of the land, the rivers, streams, National Parks and some of the mightiest highways and bends in the road at Big Sur and you know what we are capable of. Ever been to Chicago on a train? Standing on the ground underground in the city once upon a time and it hummed. Where has it gone? I believe up in smoke with a wired human body. The beauty of the landscape has to have at one time been handmade, preserved, struggled upon and even maligned by all of the same constituency. Where has that gone? Same place, same way. For decades we have seesawed with a political Right-wing, even up to Dick Cheney; but this new crew of hedge funders, businessmen only, sad sacks, soggy teabaggers is showing forth a threat to the social order and landscape and infrastructure of our individual living place, and this is extremely threatening and dangerous.

"Barack Obama didn't come through with all his campaign promises". Get over it. He's one man pushing a twenty-ton boulder up hill for four years. His biggest mistake was not slamming more politician and business creeps into prison, while taking some others out. He's just reaching his stride. If he were a white male and had eliminated Osama Bin Laden, there'd be a statue of his heroic self in every red state in the union.
There is something to be said about getting into the ring and fighting fair.

We have to get ourselves to New York State to see an old friend, then pack up and return home and do the same at my father and sister’s graves in the Berkshires. See that the graves are kept clean, indeed. Along the way, hunt and search and down on hands-and-knees the ever glorious new stock to keep our bookshop light on 24 hours a day. Do you know we keep this shop “on” almost twenty-four hours? I usually retire after midnight, and Sweetheart is up by 3:30, so the great Samuel Clemmons water wheel on the mighty Miss-is-sippi keeps turning.

Fall arrives on the back of the bluejay and its been calling along the woods edge for at least a week.

photos "Latch" and "Tailgate" © bob arnold