Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Dec 6, 2013—Out of Season
Lately, Sunshine and I have gone out every day, though the weather has been bad, to do our walk. Hunting season is almost over, except for the muzzle-loader who has saved his permit on the odd chance that he might run into a good buck when most hunters have already packed it away. Today we heard a lot of shooting in the distance. Rifles which load in the muzzle not the breech go off like a stick of dynamite. Sporting rifles have a sharp report that sounds less important. The explosion of a muzzle-loader wakes you, reminds you of the wild west of distant longings. I don't have time for hunting but then why not make time? As long as I have lived in these foothills with deer everywhere? As many times as I have sauntered through the woods and fields near my house, Sunshine and I? Would that be a distraction if I did? I am always thinking about distractions. What isn't a distraction? I'd love to build a garage to put all my tools in and then build a for real pickup that I really like, not one of these pansy things get stuck in a mud puddle. I'm not so strong on my legs any more, but I like to get out even more than I used to. I long for the solitude of the big woods on the northwestern border. But that must certainly be a distraction. So that makes essentially everything a distraction from going to work and doing the real work I get paid for. But who can live that way? The hunter whose shots I just heard might get a bite or two of deer flesh in exchange for all the energy he has expended. He also may have a job, a family, but should any resident of the woody foothills dare suggest that such sporting was a mere distraction from the real work of life, that hunter utilizing his muzzle-loader in the last of the season, one might almost say out of season, certainly might have a few sharp words to expend in his defense. What is a distraction? Suppose a man's work is the distraction and the hunting in the dark season—and it gets dark now not long after 4pm—is a man's real work, his reason for being? Well, workers of the world, why not? Some days I sit and think for hour after hour. I dare anybody to tell me I am wasting my time! I don't feel guilty about it. But my idea is that though you can think all day, one way or another you have to remove the thinking into a useful pattern that you can defend and explain clearly. The hunter has his meat, but I have my meat, too. I have been all day trying to think of a word. It has to do with people who use too many words to communicate something simple. (Lord knows, might I not be one of them! Seems to me I often have more than enough to say.) They constantly overstate the case. It is a common drawback in certain kinds of artistic(?) writing. Pretentious? I think that's a good word. I like that word. But deliberately understating the case, making it brief, succinct, is a wonder too. The jaws of speech shut tight; even common words are an anguish; you never get to the point, you hope they'll figure it out. It hurts to sing that way; forget it then, just remain silent. But the irony of the understated case makes it more vivid. It demands more art, more intense digging, heated, headachy spade work, and the possibility of silly failure is one word away. The problem is that there are lots of ways to do something but one of them may be better than the others. Do something one way, and “alternatively” do something another way, and who can say the former is better than the latter? There may be an argument about it, but that should tell you everything. What is to do in those turns of affairs? Why not save it for later, when the head is clear and the cool limit of out of season is reached? One must wait, hold his breath. Simplify! Error is likely. But error is a sort of outcome. Obviously it teaches you something. It could be a better day ahead than I think. Even if I blow it, have that big accident—a possibility that has nagged at me as I drive here and there all of my life—I'll still have to make it better. Now I hear the muzzle loader explode one last time in the distance. I think Sunshine can hear the last sounds of a dying animal, or she knows, for she has whimpered softly. I know there are white tails in that direction. They are in a stand of thick growth in an old cow field that has been permitted to brush over. The overcast is spreading a mist through the last of the daylight. The hunter got his buck in a season past the usual. He waited till the crowd had gone. That old muzzle-loader from his grandfather's arsenal? Who wouldn't expect failure? But it was simpler that way.