Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

The Dreaming and the Dead

Last night a cool wave brought temperatures down to September levels--not quite truly cool, but quite unseasonably pleasant. I arose early and drove ten minutes to the public fishing access. On the way, I picked up a carton of nightcrawlers. When I arrived at the fishing access, it proved to be a parking lot by a modest bridge, with an equally modest bit of shoreline.

When I opened the worms, they proved to be chartreuse. I prefer my worms to be "worm colored".

Another fellow was on the bridge fishing, with a big surf rod which made my "kid reel" Zebco 404 look meek indeed. I never win any masculinity contests based on fishing rods, engine horsepower or gun ownership (I am, as far as gear, as much disarmed as disarming). He was throwing big hunks on meat into the deep, no doubt seeking monster catfish. But I noticed he had only caught two small bream, which, as so often in life, confirmed some deep-seated feelings and theories I had about a completely unrelated topic.

I fished from the bridge, but my tiny bobber got swept along too much. Then I went on-shore, and promptly caught eight bream. But they were not "monster bream". Think aquarium. I did see one monster fish surface, like Leviathan, and eat something. But I did not catch that fish. I threw all my fish back, even the cute ones.

At noon, nacowafer and her husband D. came by for an outing with us. We first went into nearby Mineral, Virginia, where we
at a small place called Almost Heaven BBQ. The name was false. It was not Almost Heaven. It was part of Heaven. The smoked chicken sandwich I had was excellent, but the scene stealer was 2 cartons of green beans, which were laced with mild beef, vinegar and some unidentifiable spice. Simply wonderful.

Then we hit the road to nearby Charlottesville. We were bound for the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum. We arrived some forty five minutes before it closed for the day. This museum was quite small--even smaller than the small size I had reckoned upon. It was perfect for the time we had to see it. The museum and the art was really gorgeous. It was in an old two story home, done up as a small museum. I knew and know little or nothing about the art of the Australian aboriginal peoples, and the museum provided just enough but not too much detail, to whet my desire to learn without giving me any illusion of being sated. It elaborated for me the concept of the Dreaming a bit, the view of the ancestors with which I had some acquaintance. The pictures were quite fascinating, assembled by a Kansas academic who sold them to a local in Virginia who donated them for a museum. When the guide asked me what I knew of this art, I said "nothing at all", which was largely true, and which also arose from a deep desire to start from scratch.

We all had a good time, chatting, sight-seeing and kibitzing. As both nacowafer and I have spouses who are good conversationalists, it was a different dynamic than, say, writing in a journal, in which the individual journal author must do all the work of advancing the theme. In a voluble foursome, the theme advances itself neatly, like rugby, only less muddy. I really like nacowafer and her D., and each visit is never quite long enough, and yet just right, somehow. It's good to get together with other folks in settings outside the nuance-deprived page. Context matters so much to understand who people are. My wife and I both enjoyed the outing very much. We schedule other meetings as we go, with friends and my wife's relatives, yet for each one we arrange, I think of three more folks I'd still love to meet or see. I may become less insular as I age.

They headed off to friendly climes around 4, after we all paused to agree that we could not make out the species of a huge bird in a nearby tree. I thought it might be a golden eagle. It turned out to be a buzzard. I keep seeing buzzards and hoping for eagles. But I am never surprised when they are buzzards after all.

We hopped in the car and advanced to the town of Spottsylvania Courthouse. I vaguely had the impression we were at Appomatox Courthouse, but we more appropriately, perhaps, for my own experience, were at the sight of the bloodiest hand to hand fighting of the war.
First, though, I got a haircut.

I have been looking at my hair for days and saying "far too long", so when we saw an open barber shop, we bee-lined. A charming and attractive woman with one of those Virginia accents with almost English rounded vowels did me right, for ten dollars (plus the 2 tip), and I am now a sleek dispenser of short-hair aura, less an afghan and more a Great Dane.

We saw memorials to dead soldiers and historical explanations of a non-decisive battle in a regrettable war. We could see the trenches. We could read the stories of bloody confrontation. We saw fields of wildflowers. In the distance, five sets of ears,from five deer, stood erect, watching us, before the deer began again to feed.

I am struck over and over by the asynchronies that go with life in general and life in the south I know and desperately love in particular. "Authors of liberty" who kept slaves, peaceful fields consecrating shameless massacre, and butterflies flitting over memorials to the dead. Perhaps I was meant to be in this field of the dead, which proved neither decisive nor enlightening, just a place where the lines clashed and too many died, and the lines rearranged elsewhere. No chivalry, just words of chivalry.

We stopped at Chelsea Jo's,where I had a wonderful steamed shrimp, and
my wife had pasta. Now we enjoy the simple quiet of the evening, while the History Channel blares about war.

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