The cars lumbered up the mountain road, filled with camping equipment, provisions, toys—altogether too much stuff for a 1 night, 2 day camping trip.
If last weekend (see grown) were a testament to sober living in Drunkville, Fern Hill is my sober paradise. Mountain living, with nothing but the kids to entertain us, and grandparents to share the diaper burden—hiking, building fires, sleeping in the sounds of the wilderness.
I did break my self-imposed cell phone policy to watch the Warriors-Thunder Game 6 highlights. My son provided his own, along with some less memorable tantrums he threw when we pried a hatchet, arrow, and other dangerous play things from his hands.
His storytelling is becoming a family attraction. His transitions need work, and non-sequiturs dominate the narrative, but the kid is a natural. I wrote (here) that his viewing of the Medieval Times home webpage for 30 seconds sustained his imagination for a week. Two full days in the woods might keep him spinning tales all year.
“There was a bad guy, and his name—”
He pauses for dramatic effect, although he knows just where he’s going,
“His name is I’ma Bad Guy.”
For those now invested in the story, I’ma Bad Guy gets shot by a bunch of soldiers. The story took a surprising turn toward historical fiction, when he added with hands flaring like a symphony conductor “it was the Civil War.”
The stories take time. When he starts to lose his audience, he calls them by name like Santa does his reindeer: “No Daddy, no Mommy, no Nanna, no Granpa, listen!”
Currie and Thompson hit 7 threes in the 4th quarter. But I put up some nice stats myself: 36 hours without phone, 2 campfires, 3 cigars, and a black bear sighting.
There’s pressure on these getaways to write and read my ass off. For a brief time I get to live out my dream of mountain life, of a fortress of solitude.
What did I have to show for it? I forgot the James Welch novel I’m reading at home, and I wrote a poem. Nothing but one poem, which is to say I had everything to show for it. For me, one poem is more significant than writing a whole chapter to a book. It means that writing was so important to me that I had to shrink an experience down to its greatest impact. The singular fact that I wrote a poem tells me this weekend was a soulful and worthwhile endeavor.
Poetry is the richest return of experience.
One poem remembers the nature of the moment better than all the pictures, videos, and posts written to capture it.
Our hike took us to a ridge overrun by fern growth. The sways of green shimmered like the sea and the words came. The poem wasn’t about the ferns. In fact, it was about something that happened between me and my wife a week ago. But it was the beauty of the ferns that served as a canvas for words.
Ferns have their place in poetry. I immediately think of Dylan Thomas. He is a top five poet for me, and “Fern Hill” is a top five poem. In it, the hill serves as a reminder of all he held dear in his youth, when he ran his ‘heedless ways’ in the ‘apple towns’ and his ‘wishes ran through the house-high hay.’ It is a beautiful tribute to childhood, to the time when Thomas was young and life was easy. When:
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang my chains like the sea.”
Poetry makes me feel green again. It is the most sobering intoxicant I know. It is a rush. I can hold onto something soaring and if I let go of it, I could fall to my death.
So I just enjoy the ride.