Friday, December 30, 2016

Where From Here?

     Only made it on the water up in the Boundary Waters this year. Never floated a boat at the cabin. Seems people fear for my life and see me being alone on wilderness water as a straight line to death.  I don't think they fear me dying as much as my inevitable toasting on the coals. Odd thing is that thought hasn't entered my head. It's not that I'm stupid, though some'd disagree, more that I still have a sense of my limits. Not a vision in my mind at all of soloing down the rapids in the Canadian Arctic. Nope, none at all. These days my visions lean toward a couple of hours on calm water with a fly rod in hand. The intention would be catching a couple but wouldn't pass the line into burning desire. Yeah, I still desire these days but it doesn't burn anymore.
     Over Christmas I spent a few minutes with El. Dean. Good minutes. If you've read a few of my posts then you know El. and I have passed a hundred or more hours paddling the same canoe. This spring will mark three years since we've shared the water. Three years too many. While we were talking, the thought struck me that the end of a tradition is rarely a decision. More that one day you wake up and you realize half a decade has passed. Years slipped by.
     Anyhow, the upcoming year holds the possibility of another Boundary Waters trip, maybe two. In a week or two I'll put the bee in Brian's bonnet, then, when my grandson's summer schedule is fleshed out, set up the dates for his introduction to the wilderness waters.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Folk Art


     I'd like to be a better writer. Or cabin builder. Paddle carver. You name it. Yeah, I'd like to be better, maybe even a master but I'm not. My punctuation's inconsistent, ragged. Don't know if I'm lazy or efficient but I sure leave out a lot of words. Even do it on purpose. I look around the cabin and can recall structural errors here, there and everywhere. The cedar siding is board and batten but lacks the batten. Run your hand down the loom of any paddle I've carved and you can feel the inconsistencies.  It's not that I haven't tried to be perfect and drive every nail straight but I sure as heck haven't. On the upside, everything works as it should. And there's even some pretty in most everything if the light is low and you squint just right.
     What I'm angling toward is my writing. It'll never be perfect in any sense or form. Can't say I'd know what it would look like if it was. So I write my writing off as folk art. Imperfection as beauty. Or at least as not ugly.
     At the moment my butt rests up at the cabin and cozied into the red Ikea chair that was too ugly to leave at home. My coffee sits next to our thirty year old radio on the scrap-made table. Emil nicely describes the table at the end of Archie's Tale - 1965, though the lamp atop the one next to me came by way of my father-in-law. As was Emil's wounding in the Philippines. Thanks John.
     Spent my life learning a little about this, something of that but never made it close to shooting expert in anything except me, where I've been and what I've thought and done. Even then my expertise can be a little clouded and doubtful. So when I finally sat down to peck out the Little American Novel, it had to be about me. So that's what it is. Call it autobiographical fiction. 
     Years ago I rambled on a lot about writing up the details of my life so my grandchildren could have an idea of how things were back in the dark ages of my formative years. That was the original intent behind Between Thought and the Treetops. Kind of a convoluted method if you ask me. If I was a nice grandpa I'd made it a lot easier on the five of them. But I'm not. Instead I ran off four hundred pages they'll have to think about. Or maybe not give a damn one way or the other.

     S'pose I could blame it on Emil. Back when I first took a stab at writing my words left no margin for doubt. Graceless. Then around a dozen years ago along came Emil. Problem was I killed him off about the time I realized he was there. Could be the reason why the novel was such a roundabout way of saying who I am. Call it Emil's revenge. Or maybe his gift. On the other hand, a single look at one of my paddles leaves no doubt as to function. Call it balance.