A View from this Wilderness

I have written blogs on A View from this Wilderness for six full years. This week, Volume Six is complete, and in just a few days I will begin Volume Seven. It did not go where I had expected it to, though few things in my life, if anything, have gone where I thought they would.

When I started the blog in January of 2016, my father had just died a few months earlier, I was still senior faculty at a college in Virginia Beach, was still senior faculty at a university on the naval base, my mother still lived in a large condominium and my brother lived in Texas. None of those things are true anymore; or, the truths of those things are in the past, as most realities in our life tend to be, eventually.

I thought this site would be a simple escape into nature, and for a while it was. I wrote about geese, about the river and the bay, about the hawks and eagles here at Aerie, and about the wildlife we discovered here at night while looking at the stars. But as the weeks and months progressed, it became more about the nature of things, including and perhaps most significantly, human nature, particularly my own.

I left the college. I left the university (or the university left us, as it shut down because of Covid and never reopened). I lost touch with people I knew well for a very long time, and spent more time on the river, along the trails of the Chesapeake region. When I started this blog, we didn’t yet believe then candidate djt would win the election, we didn’t understand the animal-like attack on the Fourth Estate, and most certainly we didn’t yet know Covid; we didn’t anticipate quarantine, masks, distancing, and so much illness and death. And as we did, nature became more important, no longer simply a refuge, that escape, but a place to breathe without worry, a place to walk without concern.

Professionally, this blog led to a book, A Third Place: Notes in Nature. Among writers, blogs are somewhat controversial. Some believe it can distract from real writing, absorb your energy from completing more worthy works. I understand the argument. But I’ve always had several layers of writing going on at the same time. There is the serious material I know I want to send to publications, perhaps even in book form, as in the case of Siberia, Africa, and another project just underway; slivers of material from these topics sometimes end up in this blog, but rarely. Then there is the raw material—the stuff I read in bars with the likes of Tim Seibles—stuff we generally don’t expect to be published and which certainly won’t appear here; stuff we prefer you hear when you’ve been drinking and where recording is strictly prohibited.

But there is the middle work, the journaling, the reflections, the prompts, the thoughts, the spewing of anger at politicians, the rants at society for ignorance and negligence, and the confessions to those I know and those I do not know about so many of my shortcomings, failures, and misunderstandings. Many times what I thought would be a work about nature turned out to include my heart on my sleeve; yeah, I’ve exposed much in these six years and as a result some people pulled back, others gathered closer. This has certainly been a cleansing experience.

But in the end this blog is a place I simply am what I am. I do not know if I’m departing this life tomorrow or in thirty years, but when I do, I’m leaving everything I can out there, exposed. This blog has taught me, is teaching me still, to be who I must, something I wish I had learned decades ago.

It started with one reader—me. Last week the unique readership numbered almost 1100 people, averaging just around a grand every week. I’m very pleased by that. But make no mistake: I have no illusions that I am changing people’s minds about anything, including my own. I simply found a place to express myself instead of calling you and doing it. You’re welcome. In the end every single blog posting is from the start to the finish, first for me.

I have written about dear friends who I thought I’d spend my life with, confidants I counted on to be there and to be there for, but they moved on too soon, like Cole and Joe and Trish and Ed and Bobbie and Dave and too many more to count. I’ve written about artists who I’ve known and whose work made me feel like they knew me, even the ones who I was never fortunate enough to meet, like Vincent van Gogh and Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, Harry Chapin, Mozart, Chopin, Marley, Nick Drake and so many more whose music plays while I’m typing. Also, I’ve written here about Cole and Eton and Gosha and Slava and Tim and the other Tim.  

I’ve written about my son. About my dad. But still, mostly about nature both human and natural, from my perspective, never anyone else’s. The advantage of a blog is we’re like street corner preachers standing on a milk carton flapping our sentiments to the wind, and some people hang out and nod, others hang out and get pissed off, but most just walk on by. That’s fine. I’d walk by too.  

And if I haven’t written about some people, it’s because I didn’t want to, don’t want to, and never will want to. If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s reflective of the sentiment of that Long Island philosopher William Joel, to “do what’s good for you, or you’re not good for anybody.” Something else I learned way late in life.

But a few other things I’ve learned in these now 370 posts:

Heron get frightened easily. Geese change course if they see humans. Hawks are hyper-focused on food and if you walk by one while they’re eyeing down a squirrel, they couldn’t give a rat’s ass you’re nearby.

Standing at this river and watching rockets lift from over at Wallops Island raises the hair on the back of my neck, as does standing in the yard and seeing the stars.

Bare trees in winter are as beautiful as the colors of fall and the buds of spring.

I’m stronger than I thought I was but nowhere near as smart as people think I am. My strength is creativity not intelligence, and my true abilities lie in expression, whether through writing, photography, and at one time music.

Some of my posts never made it to publication because they were too honest, too scathing, and not fair. Some never made it to publication because as soon as I finished, I thought they could do better than A View, and they have, including places like the Washington Post. Other entries just sucked so I deleted them.

I learned that people prefer to laugh hard or cry exhaustively over simple education or rants.

I’ve learned that I prefer to be hit over the head by someone about how they feel about things rather than some slow reveal of the truth. And I’ve discovered that time spent with people who make you feel better about yourself is all there is left in life. There is no legacy, there is no endowment more valuable than that—to spend time with people who you love and who love you and who aren’t afraid to be truthful about that, no matter what.

This blog will continue with its bloated pretentiousness and condescending rants, but hopefully, as well, readers will more likely notice the sun on the bottom edge of a cloud, the call of geese or the strong woosh of an egret’s wings. Too, I hope they notice the beauty in human nature, and how swift life is, and how we all know the simple truth is when we leave this world, we’re going to wish we had been more open with others, move loving, more honest with how we feel without concern of hurting or being hurt.

The view from this wilderness is fragile and fast, and beautiful, and it is the same view as those reading in Mumbai, in London, in Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Mexico City, and New South Wales. The View from this Wilderness is not dependent upon coordinates. Everyone has the same view no matter where they are; and if everyone stands in the same spot, every single view is unique. We need to help more people without them asking, and we need to let more people know we love them without worrying about their response. The old Japanese saying remains true: “Just because the message is not received doesn’t mean it is not worth sending.” And we all like to know that people hear and appreciate us, but that’s not why an artist paints or a writer writes.

We write to remind ourselves that we miss too many sunsets, sunrises. We walk by too many flowers just beginning to open, and too many quiet lakes. We pass by too many mornings without opening the curtains and too many evenings without stepping outside.

We move too swiftly through life, worrying more about grace than gratitude, more about lofty ambitions than love.

Those of us here at A View from this Wilderness (that’d be just me) wish everyone a Happy New Year.

“Love when you can

Cry when you have to

Be who you must

That’s a part of the plan.”

–Dan Fogelberg

This Night, This Day

In the east this morning a sliver of light. I stood at the bay and remembered:

More than five decades ago on Christmas morning before our parents were awake (or so we supposed), my siblings and I would gather before we headed down for the beginning of Christmas Day, usually in my sister’s room, to exchange gifts we had bought for each other. It would inevitably still be dark out, and I know the three of us would lay awake waiting to hear each other also awake in the other room. A tap on the door. A “come in.” And we’d sit on the floor and open our presents.

At some point (like clockwork, as much an annual tradition as the turkey or the pies), our mother would wake our father and he would exclaim, “I thought I said no one up before nine am!” and he couldn’t hide his smile to our laughter at the ludicrous suggestion we’d be up any later than five. It was always cold out during those Long Island years, and often snowy, but we weren’t going outside so it just added to the magic. Dad would be in his robe and slippers, and he’d head to the living room as we gathered on the stairs and waited for him to plug in the multi-colored lights on the tree, and those on the rail, bringing to life the otherwise dark room. Mom had, of course, already organized whatever presents we would get into separate piles, and Dad would stand back as she directed us to the right area under the branches, though sometimes it was obvious if an unwrapped toy appeared, clearly already wished for by one of us. Dad would sit on the couch and watch in joy right through the stream of “Wow, thank you Mom!” wishes.

It wouldn’t be long before the aromas of breakfast mixed with the onions and bell seasoning already underway for the stuffing, and eventually we’d need to get dressed, if not for church since we might have attended midnight mass, certainly for the droves of family who would soon fill the rooms. It was a beautiful way to grow up. I do not know the possible stresses, fears, and sacrifices that went on behind the scenes—that’s how good they were at it. Then, much later in the day, after everyone else had left and we had all settled into the routine of looking at our gifts again, Dad would emerge from some closet with his gifts for each of us—books he had personally picked out, bought, and wrapped. It remains one of my favorite memories of all of my memories of my father.


It was in the sixties here today along the Chesapeake, and sunny, and to be honest I’m just tired. This is one of those days each year where I’ve been up so long and have done so much that it feels like it should be six hours later than it is. My mother and sister and brother and nieces and nephew and their spouses and offspring are all off in various parts of the country preparing to celebrate their Christmases, all of us with some common traditions, each of us with our individual more recent touches to the holiday. Certainly, in times of such tumultuous anxiety throughout the world, all of us remain fortunate enough to be celebrating Christmas at all, laughing and telling stories, enjoying the food, the drinks, the sounds of football or Christmas music. We are, to be sure, at peace. Anyone with family is engulfed in traditions which help balance our lives; they bring peace to our soul while providing some shared space not only with each other but with memory, the idea of ancestry, the hope for posterity.

My father used to sit to the side for most of the holiday and enjoy being surrounded by his family. He’d carve the turkey, and of course disappear toward evening to get the books to give to us, but these days I picture him most in his chair, watching a game, sipping scotch or wine or a beer, laughing with us, waiting for Mom to call him to duty in the kitchen. He has moved on, and whatever there might be to know after this life of ours, well, he now knows, and that too brings me great peace.

It’s so quiet out tonight. Absolute peace stretched out like canvas in all directions. On the water some buffleheads ease by. Still, there are moments I wish I was somewhere else; or maybe simply some “when” else. I miss the days before society took “nearby” and “not far away” and tossed them to the strong breezes of technology and zoom. In that small house around that small table when I was a child were so many relatives it is crazy to conceive how we pulled it off. But no one cared—we were together. Everyone lived close enough to “drive over,” and by the time the turkey came out of the oven, a small crowd was sitting and standing and outside and in, laughing as well as sharing serious moments, because it was Christmas and we were together, and it was going to be like that forever.

For the day anyway.

The sun is getting low and it’s getting chilly. I’m going inside again. I bought Michael a book at a local nautical shop and I need to wrap it and “surprise” him with it later in the day tomorrow after the lift of Christmas has settled down. And he will be gracious enough to act surprised, just as I did with my father when he would predictably surprise the three of us with books half a century ago.

Geez, fifty years. More.

Hold tight to those around the table tomorrow. And when you have to let go, make sure they know you didn’t want to.

Merry Christmas my friends.


I stayed outside all day. Mostly I raked, but I also moved planters around, piled empty pots behind the garden shed, and cleared off the trail in the back woods where deer bed down at night, and at dusk a fox always scurries around waiting for Michael to toss some leftovers into the brush. The oaks are nearly bare, except for a few that keep their leaves until spring. This land has mostly hardwoods, so the view above isn’t impeded anymore, but down at eye level an abundance of holly keeps the property green all year. The laurel, as well, remains, and a little higher up the thin pines stay green.

It might snow this year. It seems every year snow falls more regularly. Three years ago it snowed so much I don’t remember it clearing out enough to see the grass until well into February or March, which for this part of Virginia out on the Chesapeake is unusual. I’ll take it, or the heat, doesn’t matter. Ice cold hands from doing work without gloves or a back covered in sweat in August are equally satisfying. I like being in nature, wearing it, letting it penetrate beyond the visual so that all of my senses come to life.

From my perspective in these woods, whether the view be unobstructed across fields and waterways, or blocked, able to see only the nearby thicket like shadows on the wall of a cave, it is a beautiful world; yes, despite the news today, we live in a beautiful world. While humanity gets hung up on every metaphoric syllable, the natural world bends and turns and spins and thrusts itself forward in endless revolutions of perpetual next. This country is still an infant, despite what we call history as well as histrionics. It teethes on change and feeds on self-indulgence. It always has.

But this country, where the river has ebbed and flowed for tens of thousands of years, and the watermen still cross the reach each day before dawn like their great-grandfathers did, is infinite. Here in the early morning a channel marker rings, and the oyster boats return to their docks by the time the morning news anchors have poured their first cup of coffee and sign on to keep us informed about what is “important.”

I have no argument in nature. I have no sense of conflict. The paths are not compromised by a lack of decorum, the deer are not prone to an absence of character, and the osprey and eagles which frequent these skies do not suffer from questionable integrity. Nature is neither crass nor belittling; it does not lie. The trees remain firm in their convictions, the birds—with one exception—do not mock other birds, and the skies, whether cloudy or clear, have no ulterior motives.

Next month I’ll head to Utah, so now I think of the mountains, or Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake; and then Florida, where I can stare for hours looking for manatee, watching the gulf, bothered by and bothering no one. But here, always here along the river, the extremes which occupy my mind level off and remind me of the complicated gift of simplicity.


During high school I spent a good deal of my time hiking and biking, often with my dog, Sandy, through Seashore State Park. It’s a beautiful wilderness stretching between the Chesapeake and Broad Bay in Virginia Beach. Even today I have friends who bike or run the trails under Spanish Moss and across bridges through marshlands. But it’s not called Seashore State Park anymore, it’s First Landing State Park because John Smith first landed there on the Atlantic beach. A cross marks that spot.

Talk about arrogant and, well, wrong. It was not the first landing, and not only because of the Icelandic peoples up north or the Spanish in Florida (San Marco Fort in St Augustine was built before John Smith was born), but also not even the first Brits, with some vicious colleague of Smith’s arriving several years earlier.

So when tourists arrive from Pennsylvania or Quebec they marvel at standing on the first spot in the New World. The name needs to be changed back, either to Seashore State Park again, or something historically apropos, like “Seventh Landing State Park” or “Greedy Bastard’s Landing State Park,” (my personal favorite).

This rebranding isn’t unusual in human history. Before the Romans were in Italy it was the Etruscans; before England it was Engla Land, “Land of the Angles,” a Germanic tribe; and before Virginia was even the Old Dominion, it was Tsenacomoco; and this region of the Chesapeake known today as the Middle Peninsula had been Powhatan land, ruled by Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, who grew up not far from here.

My point is names change. I don’t tell anyone, “Oh, I live in the former Powhatan Lands on the once-hunting grounds of the Rappahannock Indians, long before John Smith was stung by a Stingray at the mouth of the river in the Chesapeake, but the Greedy Bastard survived.” No, I just say Deltaville. It’s easier to find on a map.

I was out on the former hunting grounds (my backyard) and walked to the river (still called the Rappahannock, I’m glad to say, as opposed to the freaking James River (the Powhatan River), and the York River (The Pamunkey River). Even the Chesapeake has had some identity issues. Before the English called it The Chesapeake (two versions exist: Great Shellfish Bay and Mother of All Waters), the Spanish called it Bahia de Santa Marie, or Bay of St Mary, but the Powhatan, who certainly had first naming rights, called it, “Chesepian,” which is an Algonquin word meaning “Village at a Big River,”

This brings me back to me. When I was in high school not far from Greedy Bastard Landing State Park, we lived in a beautiful neighborhood, Chesopian Colony. We had just moved from New York where growing up I was Robert to everyone. Everyone. My family, my friends, teachers, strangers, and had I been able to have run into any Native Americans—and there were many on the Island—I’m sure they would have also called me Robert.

When we moved I decided to call myself Bob. Only my Uncle Bob ever called me Bob (he knew), but at the high school, everyone called me Bob because that was how I introduced myself. This started my struggles with multiple personalities. You see, when I got home I had to slip back into Robert mode. I tried telling my parents I was now Bob and Robert decided to stay in Great River on the Island, but it didn’t take. Once, a girl I knew well and had a serious crush on called my house looking for me. My mother answered the phone and said, “Oh no, I’m sorry, there is no Bob here,” and hung up. “MA!!!! NO!!!” Damn. My father was good about introducing me to his co-workers or golf buddies as Bob, but he always said it was a small sneer, like I was adopted or something.

Very few people call me Bobby. A friend in Albany, a priest in western New York, and another friend who floats around the eastern United States. No, I’m solidly Bob now. In fact if you Google me, Robert comes up mostly in reference to collegiate issues, like Rate My Professor, but if you Google Bob, I’m the only one, making it easy to find most of what I’ve written. That’s good. I’d hate to be a writer with a common name like Tom Williams or Robert Frost.

I suppose nothing is what it once was, and even our memory only goes back so far. What were these lands twenty-thousand years ago, before the Algonquins, before the other peoples crossed land-bridges or built reed boats? Do we have to return to Pangea to understand? Is it possible that the “original peoples” were themselves Greedy Bastards? Probably not since the population was so much smaller. I like knowing that these lands above the Rappahannock River were only previously occupied by animals. I like animals way better than nearly all people I’ve met.

When I sit out near the river at night and look across the Bay, I forget that people everywhere are not only replacing people everywhere, but we’re also simply passing through, guests, temporary settlers in a land that was green for millennia before us and will return to her natural state pretty much as soon as we’re gone. Somehow this brings me peace. I still don’t understand why people everywhere don’t understand this—that we must remain connected, learn each other’s names and ways, histories and hopes. It is so much harder to invade a place when you know their names.

My roots are not Native American; they’re, in descending order of percentage, Irish, English, German/Italian, French, and Neanderthal. I have felt equally connected to the people of Connemara as I have those in Brooklyn. The Celts of the Wild Atlantic Way are there now and go back a long time, much longer than the four hundred years of the people on Long Island’s western tip. Those names have been changed so many times it would be difficult to keep track.

My son’s middle name is Frederick, after my father, who was named after his grandfather, whose father came from Germany. My brother, too, is named for my father.

I’m not named after anyone. I suppose that’s good; it’s like I’m the first visitor creating my own identity without previous inhabitants of my name setting some sort of expectation. I’m the original Bob in the paternal line of my family.

Hmmm. I think I’ll go with it for now.

People of the River: Powhatan Indians" Henricus Historical Park Educational  film - YouTube

In Dreams Awake

Tonight a fox wandered along the edge of the driveway for a while, and when I went out about half an hour later, an opossum was foraging in the leaves and ran up a tree and played dead on a branch. It was kind of cute, actually, the way he just sat there probably thinking, “He can’t see me. I’m not going to move, and he can’t see me.”

Above him was a three-quarter moon, and Saturn, and Jupiter, and stars whose names I’ll never know. It’s a clear night here, upper thirties, and still, perfectly still. I sat at a table on the porch, cold, yes, but okay, and heard an owl out toward the river, and a dog somewhere. I always loved how sound travels at night, especially near water. Probably more so in an area like here where neighbors are few and far between and horse farms and plowed corn and soybean fields carpet the county from here to the Chesapeake.

One of my favorite movie scenes—in that I can relate to it I suppose—is in Thelma and Louise when they’re driving out west and a variety of shots shows Geena Davis looking at the desert, at the road, at the sun in the distance, and she turns to Susan Sarandon and says, “I’m really awake. Do you feel awake? You know, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so awake in my life.” Of course they just blew up an oil tanker, so there’s that.

But I’ve been fortunate enough to feel that way more than a few times in my life. Awake. It happens here pretty often.

From my porch I really can’t see more than trees until later in winter, but when I look north on a clear night, I can imagine the vast ocean silence stretching from here to Long Island where I picture childhood friends sitting in their living rooms watching television or just talking. Some are gone now, but some still live there, just a few miles from our old neighborhood. I’ll look south and see just over the curve of the earth, in some sort of simultaneous now, friends having drinks in Florida, and others in Georgia at their computers, writing, another near the gulf sitting on his back porch listening to a ballgame.

Mom’s asleep two hours away, my brother’s playing golf just fifty miles southwest of here, my sister five hours north is perhaps babysitting her grandson, all in their pulsating lives, right now.

Brian’s (the PA one) is having wine. Sean (the NY one) is at a movie shoot of some sort. Another Brian (FL) is doing an online reading talking about writing and dealing with loss; Sean (the Syracuse one) is somewhere in the world walking his dog; KL is trying to figure out why she’s not more German than she thought. My son is taking photos of water. The lives in my life are all present, and thinking of them reminds me I am present as well, as if they are proof, just as the geese gliding over right now are proof, or the tightness of my skin from the cool is also proof.

Someone is being born, others are dying, some are getting drunk and about to make a bad decision, someone else in some corner café drinking caffeine is about to have a great idea. Right now.


We spend so much of our lives on autopilot. I won’t flood this folly with carpe diem quotes, except to say too many of us learn too late that life is swift, and that there is a difference between “a life” and “alive.”   We drift downstream with the current, caught up in conversations with others about the minutia, the meaningless. This isn’t to imply we shouldn’t have those interactions and focuses; it is simply a matter of balance, and there is no proof that this world is anywhere near in balance.

I’m not daft. I know I’m not pointing out anything anyone hasn’t thought of or doesn’t know. But step outside. Seriously, step away from the phone, the laptop, the television, the kids, the parents, the rest of everything that is and step outside and see what else is, and be present, be quiet.

I stood tonight and thought about where I was standing and how I got there; those times—and there have been more than a few—I thought I’d not make it through the night. Other times I didn’t want the night to end—and, thankfully, there were more than a few of those, too.

This is it. This is what keeps me going. Searching for moments of clarity, that awakeness. It can come on a mountain hike, sculling the river, or sitting quietly on the patio near the firepit on a cold night, sipping red wine, talking about the, well, the minutia, like the stars, the distant sounds, some light from a plane high above headed north, headed somewhere else. Being awake is spending time with someone with whom you don’t have to think about anything. Being awake is spending time alone and you don’t have to worry and anticipate or regret or second-guess. Being awake is akin to air; it is akin to water.

An owl just hooted here at Aerie somewhere behind me. And I can hear the diesel engine on a workboat, this late. On nights like this I swear I can hear clear across to Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore, and up toward Tangier, and up toward Montauk.

Colder weather is coming. It’s clear tonight, but clouds are moving in. Changes, constant turns and spins of expectations and wonder. Whenever I am in this state of mind, I remind myself it will inevitably change; as will the frequent moments of self-doubt. It gives me something to look forward to in moments of weakness, and, moreover, it reminds me to hold tight to the moments of such sharp clarity when I can almost feel like I understand my place among things.

In the Still of the Night

At the river again.

An eagle rises from a branch and lifts toward the far side of the marsh, and a heron methodically moves from the reeds on my right deeper into the duck pond searching for minnows and other small fish floundering near the surface where the water is warmer. Out on the water a workboat chugs back toward the docks at Locklies upriver a mile or so, and Mike is out in his PT banking out across the Norris Bridge and moving in for a quiet landing at Hummel Field.

A new moon tomorrow means spectacular stargazing this weekend, and a few hours ago both Jupiter and Saturn sat above the trees in the west. Tomorrow night earlier than this we’ll check out the moons, the rings. I am always taken aback by this same site seen by astronomers hundreds of years ago, same celestial location, and I am certain with the same terrestrial wonder.

The river is quiet this evening, like a mirror, glass. Some lights on the far shore reflect in a perfect motionless line pointing toward me, and the cars crossing the bridge appear inverted just below themselves. There’s something about standing at the river at night that makes me forget the sun is still out over the Pacific and just rising in the Urals. It’s breakfast time in Irkutsk and lunchtime in Vladivostok.

But here it is dark save the cars and lights across the water, and nighttime on the river can be engulfing. Worries and concerns, anxiety and stress drift west with the night, as if that’s Beryl Markham herself flying up there, gathering the problems of those of us along the shore, and lifting off toward the mountains to let them disperse in the dark. I’m not daft; I know this is a temporal relief to the daytime deluge of discouraging news and worries about tomorrow, about today, and even about things that were, but tonight, in this blackness, nothing is more worrisome than accidently startling the heron or the buffleheads on the water, which not even the workboat bothered as it went by.

And it reminds me of something it took me some time to pinpoint. But I did.

I lived across the street from a reservoir in Massachusetts in a yellow house in a quaint village at the corner of two roads which wound around the water, the Wachusett Reservoir. Across a small bridge and up the road about half a mile, a small strip of land reached into the water to a round piece of land on which is an old stone church, abandoned when I lived there, with thick walls and windows so wide you could sleep on the sills, fresh air blowing through the open spaces.

It was common for me to walk out in December along the road to the skinny stretch to the church, walk into its blackness and climb into a sill and sit for an hour or two, watching the occasional cars go by from West Boylston past my house and up toward the mountain, or up on the road heading north into Sterling, through that village and on up toward Leominster and New Hampshire. It could be cold, and geese often settled there for the night, letting out the occasional honk, not minding me, noticing me just the same.

It is an odd mixture of absolute peace of mind, of space, of being, wanting to stay there for a long time, but stirring my soul enough to make me want to do something, to get my guitar and play quietly, or to find a pub and talk to people, to come to life in the dead of night, but I always knew that as soon as I did something like that, very quickly I’d long for the safety of the old church sill where I could still see the lights inside my yellow house, and I could walk home, close the door, turn off the lights and lay in bed thinking about somewhere else.

I was always thinking about somewhere else back then. It wasn’t dissatisfaction with the here and now; it was—is—a restless spirit that I’ve finally recognized has the dubious role of only being truly at peace if it keeps moving.

Like in Spain. Or Siberia. Or Mexico. Or…

I sometimes think about places I’ve been more in terms of time than location, as if I really were to drive to that reservoir, the old stone church would still be overgrown and abandoned, and my house would still have a light on waiting for me to come home and turn in for the night. When one leaves a place and doesn’t return for many, many years, it leaves the last visit hanging there in the air between back then and now, as a mirage, like water on a desert highway, and the closer you come the more you realize there’s nothing there anymore.

A can hear a truck crossing the bridge tonight, heading north toward Maryland perhaps. Further. By the time I walk home and get ready for bed it will be crossing the Potomac, heading up 301 toward Baltimore. The world is small at night, more navigable. I can stand here at the river and believe I can almost see that desert highway reaching across the Sonoran toward Tucson, and at this hour when the world has no sound at all, I can hear two young friends sitting along another river, talking about other dreams in other times.

I love the night for its limitlessness, its clarity despite the darkness, perhaps even the result of the darkness.