FROM A WINDOW

May 30th 2016 Memorial Day Wal along the Highlands Beach Winthro 026.JPGLooking out my window on a cold damp day in March, I’m watching a family of squirrels chase each other up and around the trees that soon will be in full bloom, cocooning my little place on the edge of the woods.  The branches are close enough that if I could jump like the squirrels, I would leap from my window to a branch. Until the trees become full, I can see across the large field that leads into the salt marsh and wildlife preserve, which in the summer is all but hidden. I like both views.

I have been reading about Connie Picciotto, an activist who led a 24-hour vigil against nuclear proliferation from a makeshift camp in Lafayette Square next to the White House for 32 years, thought to be the longest-running protest in Washington. In a 2013 profile in The Washington Post, Ms. Picciotto said she spent more than 30 years of her life outside the White House “to stop the world from being destroyed.” Connie pledged to continue the vigil after her tents had been removed from the park, but she will not be keeping that watch any longer. Connie died January 25, 2016, at a housing facility operated by N Street Village, a nonprofit that supports homeless women in Washington. She was believed to be 80.

I remember being in Lafayette Square on a cold damp December day in 1972, listening to Joan Baez and Holly Near speak and sing. Those of you who know those names might think, wow, what a crowd, but it was a pretty small gathering, and all of us sat around and talked. Across the street, President Richard Nixon was looking out his window after he had just authorized Operation Linebacker as the U.S. dropped at least 20,000 tons of explosives on North Vietnam, mostly Hanoi, and more than 1,000 Vietnamese civilians died. At least 30 U.S. airmen were killed and more than 20 went missing in action, while others were captured after ejecting over North Vietnam. So a group of us stood in this small square on a cold, damp December in Washington, D.C., in 1972, keeping a vigil of peace. By the heat of August 1973, the war was over for America, and after all the killing we left Vietnam.

When I was in prison (my reason for being there can be found here starting with the page Mountaintop Days) ,I remember looking out a cell window past a barbed wire fence into a wooded area and saw a deer way out there, and at that moment I promised myself I would never forget what it felt like not to be free. When I was released from prison, a dog ran up to me in the parking lot, and we ran together in a straight line (I had been doing circle walking in the compound for almost two years), and it felt so good that I promised myself I would never forget how it feels to be free.

I really don’t like cold, damp December days in Washington,I’m not a fan of prison windows, and I’ve seen enough of Lafayette Square to last me the rest of my life, but if Donald Trump becomes president I fear I’ll be visiting again.

 

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Seagulls, Cormorants, and Dan

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were considered to be transcendentalists. Transcendentalism is a $50 word for a life philosophy that says people and nature are inherently good and that self-reliance and intuition are the most important attributes. Once upon a time, I lived that life in the mountains of West Virginia, a story I tell on this website under the title Mountaintop Days.

first pictures Nahant Jenny Ari and me 041 Breakers CROPED.JPGI have just passed through another decade of life like a freight train passing up a hobo. At this writing, I am moving head first through another Memorial Day weekend, one that would have been my 27th wedding anniversary except that heaven had other plans for my wife. The weather that both my wife and I loved has finally arrived on the shores of Rambling Harbor. In other words, it’s a hot one!

I seem to thrive when it’s hot, hot, hot, perhaps a product of spending the first years of my life in the south, or maybe not, but whatever the reasons, I like it hot. It’s not that I don’t feel the heat. Sophie Tucker said that she had been rich and poor and rich was better. To paraphrase, I’ve been hot and cold and hot is better. I become more reflective in the summer.

The beach I live near is not on a map. As a truck-driving friend (who knows New England like the back of his hand) once said, “Rambling Harbor! Rambling Harbor!! You can’t find Rambling Harbor if you don’t know where it is.” I like it that way. On the hottest weekend days, the main part of the beach, which has sand for castle building and where families and individuals gather for the day, is never crowded. There is also an isolated place that’s about a half-hour’s climb over rocks of varying sizes where you can be totally alone, and it feels like the edge of the earth. This area is under at least 20 feet water at high tide, so it is necessary to plan one’s trip accordingly or be ready to swim to shore. I have made friends with a few favorite boulders, seagulls, and cormorants. One large rock even has the feel of a reclining chair. But I’m not a sitter, I’m a roamer and a climber-over-rocks, dodging waves and looking for little life forms hidden in the shallow pools left by the ebbing tide.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were considered to be transcendentalists. Transcendentalism is a $50 word for a life philosophy that says people and nature are inherently good and that self-reliance and intuition are the most important attributes. Once upon a time, I lived that life in the mountains of West Virginia, a story I tell on this website on the page Mountaintop Days. I have to admit, though, that as more and more decades have passed through this body, my mountaintop days will likely never come again. With a bad back and bad knees that some days rebel against even getting out of bed much less climbing over rocks, it’s not always an easy trip up and down the smooth part of my beach, never mind the boulders.

In a world that seems to be excelling in the loss of all rational thought, as we plunder the earth, rape the mountains, and pollute the sea, as more and more inhabitants of this earth disappear that were here long before humans and more and more humans seem to care less and less, my slow pilgrimage across the rocks and boulders to spend a few hours at the edge of the earth visited only by gulls and cormorants becomes even more important to me.

There will be more thoughts about this as well as some rock and roll history on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.This way to the shores of Rambling Harbor podcast

 

 

The Poet, Not the Politician. Please Pass the Idiom.

I have also decided that you cannot make a political essayist out of a poet, at least not a happy poet. I have spent the last few months primarily writing about politics and particularly

Connors and Brooksby farms S3ptember 2015 020 goatMy mother regularly used the expression you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, an expression I’m sure most of us have heard in one form or another. Its general meaning is that you can’t make something good out of something bad.

I’ve been thinking about idioms lately and where that particular one originated and discovered there’s a lot of conjecturing as to just where it did begin. The range is someplace between the devil and the deep blue sea, from the dying words of Hamlet to the Reverend Jonathan Swift in 1801, but an English satirist named Stephen Gosson seems to have made a like statement centuries earlier in The Ephemerides of Phialo in 1579. But one thing I do know for certain is that my mother used it time and time again. Usually, when I wanted something better than what I had.

I have also decided that you cannot make a political essayist out of a poet, at least not a happy poet. I have spent the last few months primarily writing about politics and particularly about my disdain for and fear of Donald Trump who might possibly become president of our country. To be perfectly clear about this, I have in no way tried to make a silk purse out of him and would never insult a pig by any comparison.

In my attempt to convey how I feel about this demon who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, I have all but lost track of who I am. I am a person with a proclivity for poetry, prose, poems, promulgation, and apparently alliteration, and that seems to make me happy as a clam. (If you’re wondering why clams are happy, this may shed some light on that. The original version is “as happy as a clam at high water.” Hide tide is when clams are free from predators.)

My politics are similar to my religion. I consider myself a spiritual person but almost never go to church, but I pay attention and I do pray. I consider myself a political person but never campaign for anyone, but I pay attention and I do vote.

In last week’s podcast, I had a meltdown. As I said then, I was sick of self-obsessing about Donald Trump, and it was true then and it rings truer now. I also realize that mostly I am preaching to the choir because most of my readers already agree with me and the ones who don’t have left me high and dry. (The phrase “preaching to the choir” probably had its origin as “preaching to the converted,” first cited in the works of John Stuart Mill. He used the phrase in An Examination of Sir W. Hamilton’s Philosophy, 1867.)

Now as we approach the eleventh hour of the political process, I have decided to let sleeping dogs lie and return to the poetry, prose, music-loving, storytelling person I am and have my blogs and podcast be what I have always intended them to be, informative and fun. I hope and pray and will vote that Donald Trump is here today and gone tomorrow.

On the shores of Rambling Harbor, there will be a few more idle thoughts on one thing or another and some rock and roll history, but of course, that’s not carved in stone. I hope you’ll join me there.This way to the shores of Rambling Harbor

Copyright © 2016 Daniel (Dan) Sanders. All rights