November 2000, The Cat Drag'd Inn, Center Conway
Friends, Correspondents, Companions:
Writing a Winter Solstice letter is a new experience for me. Many new experiences for me this past year and a few old ones over again.
My WWWeb page disappeared early in the spring; that in itself was disheartening enough, albeit expected--sooner or later--but more so was the lack of notice or response. There, I've said it. That was pent up for a long while. I've also been having an ongoing problem dealing with what Alvin Toffler called Future Shock; that plus a seemingly systemic failure--one thing after another, internal and external--after so long a period of everything going my Way. So, I'm still casting about looking for a new direction.
January in the Desert: Third Winter in AridZona. The Millennium came and went with nary a whisper. A visit to the Magic Circle in Quartzsite opened up a whole new world for me to explore. Finally after all these years I am finding a place in the scheme of things that suits me. I have long felt I had purpose; now I feel I have found place; it is the transition that still hurts. Cryptic, eh? I'll let you know when I sort it out.
Febter: Time to head east. Family affairs calling out across time and space. I wandered across the south to FLorida, searching and seeking, reading and listening, and then turned north. Lots of visits along the way but still with the goal in mind of being in New Hampster by the 1st of April for my sister's 50th birthday, and my 59th the day before. And then following that party, a week later her youngest would be married.
March: Sleepless in FLorida. A certain tension exists between those folks who wish to attract tourists and those who repel them. Everyone it seems is bent upon forcing everyone else to live according to their mores or else not here. (But now, as I write this in November, I find the same thing happening even in the land of "Live Free or Die". Conformity v.s. diversity; is there no reconciliation?)
April: I am 59 and my fourth sibling--first sister--is 50. My family is maturing and spreading out. This Christmas list once comprised more friends than relatives but now it is getting to be the other way round. I'm a Grand Uncle.
May: Weather has been typical New England--cool enough for a nice wool jumper in the morning and hot enough later in the day to go skinnydipping in the river. In between walks in the woods I am doing projects in the bus. Spring Cleaning.
June: Back to school. The School for International Training in Brattleboro VermonT for a month of learning to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages. Teaching ESL/EFL is the new direction I have settled on. In highschool I failed my first term of Freshman English. More because of a personality conflict between a stubborn teacher and an even more stubborn student but that failure engendered a passion that now is coming to fruition. This month long intensive course includes practice teaching; I have more to learn about my Self than I do about the subject. Now to find work in my new field.
July: Life has been pretty hectic. July started out with a week of work in security and traffic control at the Winston Cup races at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. By the end of that week the 400 acres of parking and camping became the 2nd or 3rd largest city in New Hampster.
August: A borrowed grandson arrived from one of the families I have
become close to in Arizona. We would spend the next five weeks together
exploring his home schooling courses in American History and Social Studies.
Another aspect of my new Way was to attend and participate in The
Naturist Society gatherings in Lenox and Morovia. Should have gone
to this event earlier but... Should have started into this whole Way of
life earlier but it has taken me this long to reach enlightenment. Isn't
that just what we all say as we get older. Perhaps it is one of those marks
of maturity that we begin to realise what we have missed along our way
of trying to do everything else.
The following week we went to Acadia National Park in Maine for a whirlwind tour of the rocks and beaches. Anemone Cave is right where I left it fifteen or so years ago but all the little animals, the sea anemones which give it its name, have gone. Picked clean by stupid tourists and National Park Service policy. The cave, the floor of which is covered with tidal pools representing an environment more like that found just off shore, is accessible only at low tide.
When I was there last it was a hazardous scramble down over slickery rocks but the beauty of the cave was sublime. Then the NPS came along. With their penchant to make everything accessible to the lowest common denominator they empowered the braindead with a protected walkway and adequate signage thus assuring that even those who couldn't read would know how much damage they could do by picking the delecate flower-like anemones. They're all gone. And now that the damage is done so too are all the signage and the walk way; all mention of the cave is gone from the map in the park brochure. Now it is once again a hazardous scramble down over the rocks but the sublime beauty of the cave has been replaced by a monument to our stupidity.
Rusty stumps of iron pipe in holes along the pink granite ledge show
where the path of destruction lay; several varieties of seaweed wave from
the tidal pools as the incoming tide washes over the rocks; a lone starfish
inhabits one pool as if a remnant of what was, or a consolation prise for
those who still know how to find the cave.
The week after that we went to play in the Saco River just north of the 3rd iron bridge west of Bartlett's upper village. Such an eden-like day and place. Bouldering barefoot and nude up and down the clear cool river under the hot sun, rubbing one another with clay and sand, playing tag in the swimming holes, laying about in the sun... It was perfect. When the Conway Scenic RR train crossed the bridge above us we stood in all our glory and waved. Like Huck Finn and Thomas Eakins come alive together.
The penultimate week of our adventure in New England included two trips
to Boston to visit the Freedom
Trail and Old
Ironsides while we waited on the tranny shop in Portland to replace
the Allison 4-speed in this old bus. It failed some time back but between
not knowing just how bad it was, nor even realising it in the first place,
and being locked in to a busy schedule of touring and working, I just let
it slide. The matter of warranty completely slipped my mind. In the end,
two months beyond the warranty expiration Allison still made good for me.
I'm really happy about that; it would have been a killing expense. Allison
Transmission thank you very much.
September: Then we went to a second week at the Winston Cup where I spent my time directing traffic again and the kid spent his time working for some of the trinket vendors. The leaves are changing colours and beginning to come down. Nights are becomming cold enough to want for heat and extra blankets.
October: My Christmas Project is underway evenings and I'm spending my days driving a rake around the grounds of the 150th Fryeburg Fair. My main project now is deciding where to go next and finding enough meaningful and gainful work to keep me in grub and mischief for the winter.
It is unfair enough that fuel prices are going up faster than anybody's salaries but worse is that the interest on my savings seem to be going down at the same rate. Social Security is still a couple of years away. There is plenty to do for volunteers and lots of jobs in the eight to five mainstream but I still seem to be looking in the wrong places for the short term temporary work I find most meaningful at this time. Edith Hamilton said: "It is not hard work which is dreary; it is superficial work."
The good news is that I received two grants to take courses at CLL/UNH. Now all I have to do is find a couple of courses I can take without actually having to be there, or that I can take somewhere else whilst living on the road.
The major project now is to get a block heater installed in this hard to start when its cold diesel pusher. It would seem easier just to drive south.
The snow is beginning to pile up on my favourite sunbathing rock.
We are being admonished to get out and vote. I remember when the Scouts use to have a door to door campaign: "Get Out The Vote!" For whom? It looks to be just another pissing contest to see who can spend the most money bad mouthing the other guy; to see who can convince the gullible American to buy a candidate like they buy a new car. Now it is a choice between the guy who would cut down all the trees to protect the children or the guy who would cut down all the children to protect the trees.
November: A return to SIT for the Foreign Service Examination. Won't know until January how well I did but mostly I wanted just to see what it was like. There is only a very small chance of my being posted since I will be over the age limit before too long.
It is like being in the limbo when a kid finds his legs long enough to reach the pedals but he's yet not old enough to get a driver's license.
December: For this month I am going to house sit for friends who are returning to India to visit the Church of South India boarding school at Erode where we sponsor several children. I went with them one year, in between contracts in Antarctica, and I often think about retiring there. One can live there like a sultan the on retirement income that here would barely provide subsistance.
I wish you all a Happy Winter or an Early Spring. Both if you can stand
Stay Gold, Love, ajo
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem
to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself
in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,
whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. --Sir Isaac
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Copyright (c) 2000 A.J.Oxton <firstname.lastname@example.org>