Seasons (a poem)

Fresh Spring toward Summer ripens soon
Its greens will now begin to brown
The browning yields the seeds of Fall
And then a final sigh and rest

In Winter’s dormance gather we
Our thoughts and lessons for the year
And add our own tree rings of age
In hope that wisdom will result

And with such wisdom greet the Spring
Of yet another year to come
Perforce to yield a better crop
Of thoughts and deeds to sow and reap

And thus to earn our just reward
Of satisfaction and of rest
To contemplate the work we’ve done
Our spirit then can be released

Advertisements

Curmudgeon

“Dear, will you take care of the hotel reservation? I’m trying to deal with my hair right now.”

“Oh, all right Jane, but I hate talking with anonymous people I can’t see, especially nowadays. I can’t understand the dialect these younger people seem to have developed, from God knows what influence.”

“It’s MTV and Southern California, Fred. You’re just going to have to get used to it.”

“Umphh.”

(pause while dialing)

“How, mmyool, nry sping, myelhyoo?”

“Is this the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco?”

“Yer, nry sping, myelhoo?”

“I’d like a reservation for tomorrow night, a double room, no smoking, please”

“Serny sir. Naympeez?

“Did you want my name?’

“Yerm”

“Fred Pape, Pee Ay Peee Eee.”

“Thyoo Mr. Pace …”

“No, that’s P as in Peter, A as in Apple, P as in Peter, E as in easy.”

“Willoopay wa credcurd?

“Yes, it’s a ServeCard: 123 -456-7890”

“Wenotooferfisennonoo?”

“Look, Nuri, or whatever your name is, I am old, I don’t hear well, you speak very fast and I don’t understand most of what you say. Please speak slower and more distinctly”

“Ok, sir, whad yoo wan now?”

“I want to know that you have my credit card number correctly. Please repeat what you recorded.”

“OK, sir, Wan, doo, dree, fi, sits …”

“No, no, you left out the four, after the three.”

“Dree? Four?”

“Yes, Three, four.”

“OK sir.”

“Do you have the rest of the numbers?

‘Yeah.”

“What are they?”

“Fi, sits, sem, nine, oh.”

“No, No, No. You left out the eight after nine. It’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, zero.”

“OK, sir.”

“Would you please confirm this reservation by email?”

“Ok, sir.”

“My email address is ‘fredpape@stuff.us.’ Please repeat that.”

“Fredpace at dufus”

“I give up!” (hangs up).

“Dear, you were so rude!”

“Jane, dammit, you take care of it. Maybe you can understand people with marbles in their mouths and iPods in their ears.”

“You’re turning into an old curmudgeon.”

“Get used to it.”

A Superannuated Gent “Howls”

(From the Archives, August 20, 2017)

I’ve gotta get it off my chest. Things are going to hell in a hand-basket.

Popular entertainments do not inspire.

There is no rigor in what used to be an intellectual argument.

Robots have replaced honest labor so people fiddle with their computers.

Elected leaders cannot lead, so young people join local and international mobs.

Feelings are now more important than thoughts, so everyone is upset with everyone else.

Local traditions fall away in the face of mass marketing.

International organizations are more powerful than nations.

Religions fail to inspire the transcendent in the people, so they seek prophets of the mundane and violent.

It becomes ever more difficult to find sufficient water for the people.

Our food is manufactured.

We are fouling our own nest.

And this Howl is all I can generate for a scheduled submission to my writing group.

 

Leaving the Cocoon of Childhood

I am currently in California to participate in celebrations for the birth of a new family member. Some of my family are in their ‘teen years, reminding me of my own youth with its uncertainties and terrors.

I am so reminded, constantly, in observing youths in the public places of Stockholm who dress, preen, pose, and behave to attract others of their age. But to be in the same house with a relative of this age brings forth echoes of my own youth more forcefully. My heart suffers for them, but to a much smaller degree than they suffer, to be sure.

I have no doubt–I can say that I know–what Nature intends for these young people, the same as she intends for the newly fecund members of all Her living species: “be fruitful and multiply.”

But such an imperative is more complicated for those humans who no longer live in circumstances where the newly fecund can successfully procreate at the youngest possible age, with the expectation that their issue will also successfully survive for the long term. We are “civilized.” We need to get an education; we need to gain the knowledge and skills to support oneself economically, and to garner sufficient assets to provide a home for oneself, one’s mate and one’s children.

Thus, the mating and procreating are delayed well beyond the time Nature prepares us, physically, for it.

But, the hardest part of being this age is not in contemplating the future, but in how to deal with the newly arrived emotions of the present. I think any parent will attest to the metamorphosis that takes place in their offspring upon the onset of puberty. Each young person is learning about her- or himself without a built-in instruction manual. Advice from older people is usually unwelcome, or not sufficient to the need. One learns about oneself from one’s own experiences. So, the loving parent will do her and his best to protect and guide the youth through self-discovery, which will often include dangerous experimentation and impulsive behavior.

Sigh—Oh Parenthood!

While pondering in this realm, I remembered a favorite “Star Trek” episode of many years ago, “Amok Time,” written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, first aired September 15, 1967

The First Officer of the Starship “Enterprise,” Commander Spock, had been exhibiting unusual behavior and requested that he be granted leave to go to his home planet, Vulcan. Captain James T. Kirk orders Spock to Sick Bay, where Medical Officer McCoy finds evidence of extreme physical and emotional stress, a condition that will kill him within eight days if not treated. Spock explains that he is undergoing pon farr, a condition male Vulcans experience periodically throughout their adult life, and that he must mate or die.

At Vulcan, Spock invites Kirk and McCoy to accompany him to the wedding ceremony. He explains that Vulcans are bonded as children so as to fulfill the pon farr commitment, and that T’Pring is to be his mate. T’Pring arrives with Stonn, a pureblood Vulcan, whom she prefers to Spock [who is half-human]. T’Pau, a matriarch…, prepares to conduct the ceremony. However, T’Pring demands the kal-if-fee, a physical challenge between Spock and a champion she selects. To everyone’s surprise, she chooses Kirk instead of Stonn. Spock begs T’Pau to forbid it as Kirk is unaware of the implications, but T’Pau leaves the decision to Kirk; another champion will be selected if he refuses. Kirk accepts the challenge, only to learn that it is “to the death.”

(Of course, none of our heroes dies, but I’ll leave it to the reader to pursue the plot in the source for this information.)

Spock, his pon farr ended, returns to the Enterprise, but not before warning Stonn, T’Pring’s mate to be, that “having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.”

Yes, we are full of wanting, but never so intensely as when having newly emerged from the cocoon of childhood.

 

Gone is the child ( a poem)

Gone is the child
That young man
I remember so well

Eighty years of living
Some of it hard
Some of dangerous

Much loving
Much heartbreak
Much fear

Music
Marriage
Children

Schools
Jobs
Betrayals

Successes
Failures
Recoveries

Years fall into the abyss
Friends, family disappear
Leaving tearful memories

But new friends, family appear
I cherish them and every moment
Even as the memories travel with me

The Pill Box

It holds three weeks of daily doses of Losartan, for mild hypertension, and tiny vitamin B-12 pills. There’s no connection between the two—it’s just that both are small enough to fit together in the twenty-one spaces, measuring around three cubic centimeters each. The multi-vitamin/mineral and Omega-3 capsules are too large to fit with the others.

This morning I emptied the last of the small pills into my hand, thus marking another three weeks of life having past, seemingly, very quickly. After conducting my after-breakfast pill-swallowing, I brought the empty box into the room where I store the refills.

Shortly before my friend Fred died last year, I wrote to him that my life seems to pass in three-week increments, measured by the re-filling the little pill box. He acknowledged in his responding letter that he, too, had certain recurring events in his life which mark the inevitable, ineluctable passage from fertilization to stasis (or, ‘room temperature,’ as Fred preferred to say.)

When not in a hurry to get somewhere else in the morning, as I reach for the pill box in my bed stand I pause to reflect on the three weeks just past. Usually, no particular event comes to mind, but I do a mental body-and-spirit scan to see if I can discern being three weeks older than three weeks ago.  I can’t. It is a mystery. It is inescapably true that I have aged three weeks since I last refilled this little box. Yet, I feel no different from the last time I conducted this review.

Now, gazing out the window of my home-office, where I do my writing and pillbox filling, I see the quiet lake welcoming the return of birds who nest and feed and breed here. They have an annual rhythm to guide them, but I cannot imagine they have the capacity to dwell on having aged another year. They are just living their lives as Nature and experience have inculcated in them.

a sunny morning
the birds and I are aging
alive together