Garden Rain, Late Harvest

October 13, 2013

BURGER TO GO

By T.W. Burger

I sat down on the remains of an old school desk in my garden and watched the rain assault the burn pile, and listened as it drummed on the hood of my slicker.

The pile has been growing for a couple of years; garden waste, scrap lumber, brush and small trees, a couple of tree stumps. I figured it would not do to allow the pile to get any larger, so it was time.

At the end of a long drought, and with the pile only about 10 feet from a whole field of drying soybeans, I needed a rainy day.

I got my wish. The forecast called for two or three days of steady rain. I figured that would do.

It did.

Getting ready to do physical work takes longer than it used to: A brace for the bad ankle, one for each knee, another one for the back, and the aforementioned bright yellow slicker.

The fire crept slyly around the wet pile at first, but eventually its hunger won out and flames reached up eight feet or more. While I kept an eye on it, I began the work of getting the garden ready for winter.

I stripped the few remaining tomatoes, most of them a bright green, and then pulled up the vines.

Thick smoke danced from the fire as it burned down. I stopped my work and hauled half a dozen wheelbarrow loads of trimmings and broken branches from a couple of other spots in the yard and heaped them onto the fire, which roared back into life.

The heat felt good, so I sat on the old desk for a bit, enjoying the warmth, soaked through everywhere the slicker did not cover and under the slicker I was soaked with sweat.

The tomato patch reduced to a rectangle of mud, I moved over to the peppers.

Orange habañeros and long red chilis glowed bright as sparks against the dark compost. I fumbled among the slender stems, careful to leave the still ripening fruit undamaged. I rinsed the dirt off the colorful harvest and laid them in a bucket, and then moved to the former broccoli patch. The groundhogs got to the broccoli before we did, but a kind of strange, hybrid gourd they left alone.

I suspect it was the result of a liaison between a zucchini or winter squash and a pumpkin. The fruits are bright yellow and knobby, but baked and mixed with butter and cinnamon, there is nothing better.

Late Harvest 10-11-2013 6-34-49 PM 2448x3264.49

The garden is almost at an end. A few peppers and squash remain, and if the frost holds off for another week or so, we may get more.

The fire had died back to a sullen glow. I took a manure fork, flipped some unburned material over onto the coals, and piled the new debris on top. The flames found new enthusiasm.

I sat again, swirled about by aromatic smoke, pummeled by rain, sore, but content, my breath condensing in the cool air.

For the most part, the garden is a corpse, to be torn apart and composted or burned, piled with manure, and put into hibernation. There is still much to do.

But not today. I am done. My knees stiff, my back bent like Quasimodo’s, I hoisted my two buckets of color and lurched through the gray and brown garden to the warm house, a hot bath, some aspirin, and a touch of scotch.

As I started the house, the rain started to fall harder, coming down in sheets. I gave one more glance at the fire. It had become a few dark, smoking heaps, no flames visible. I began to think that I should have saved the wood for an ark.

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© 2013 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

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Ghosts in the River

January 1, 2012

Ghosts on the River

Three days before the year’s end, and the weather had turned suddenly colder.

Scattered fat snowflakes darted through the scrub oaks clinging to the steep banks of the Shenango River in western Pennsylvania, a 100-mile long tributary of the Beaver that eventually flows into the Mississippi River.

Shenango means “pretty one.”

My brother, David, and I joked that if we believed in ghosts, our mother’s would be down there on the marshes along of the Shenango, gigging frogs with her dad, a rough, hard-drinking steelworker.

At our feet, on the heights above the river, were the headstones of our mother and father. Dad was buried there in 1981, Mom just a little more than a year ago.

Neither of their lives or deaths was particularly easy. But all that’s done, now.

Water, flowing water, has always held me fascinated. I grew up in northeast Georgia, along the Oconee, whose name is a corruption of the Creek word meaning “born from water.”

The Oconee’s waters tumble down over the fall line to join the Ocmulgee to become the Altamaha and finally the Atlantic.

I now live in southern Pennsylvania along Marsh Creek, which joins with Rock Creek to become the Monacacy, which flows into the Potomac. The heights between Marsh and Rock creeks were the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. Bullets and other martial debris show up in the farm field behind our house.

The thing about rivers and creeks is that they seem from moment to moment to be fixtures, but in truth they are never the same. Blink and you missed something, something that will find its way to the eternal time-sink of the sea. So they are at once symbols of opportunities lost and of hope. That’s how I think of it, anyway.

David still lives a short walk from Born from Water.

We don’t get here often. It’s a long haul for me, and a longer one for him. Visits to our mother’s sister bring us back, and we always make the trek to Riverside Cemetery. I don’t know how often we would get back if not for her.

This is our first trip back since Mom’s ashes were interred over Dad’s grave.

I will not speak for David, but I usually spend an hour or so sitting on Grandpa George’s headstone, gazing over the tops of my parents’ stones, down toward the river.

I am not there for them. There’s nothing beneath the assorted Burger and Miller stones but ash and the odd discarded mechanical parts, the odd bone or set of dentures.

I go there to address memories, good, bad, indifferent, sometimes surprising, things I had forgotten. I speak, sometimes out loud, about this or that. Long ago, there was not a little anger, as I worked through things as I aged.

I’m in my sixties now. The anger is gone, dispersed by understanding, nubbed by weariness, and sometimes by no longer giving a damn. There were ordinary people, flawed, beat down and badgered by their own past. Who am I to be angry?

I leaned against the big oak above the graves. The wind was picking up, the flakes coming more heavily.

In a few weeks The Pretty One will be frozen over. In the old days, there were spots where you could drive a car over it. In recent decades, the winters have been thinner, meaner, somehow.

David and I climbed back into the car and wove our way through the steel-town blackened gothic stones and back into the end-of-the-year bustle of town, leaving The Pretty One counting down the moments to winter.

It’s always SOMETHING

November 5, 2011

Some days, I wonder why any of us bother to get up in the morning.

It’s not as though we don’t have enough to worry about, what with the economy in a shambles in just about every place that has an economy. And of course there’s politics, speaking of shambles, with a president on one side whose opinion polls put him somewhere in the neighborhood of a fart in church, and the opposition party offering up a field of candidates who come off as a bad hybrid of Keystone Cops and extras from Night of the Living Dead.

With all this in the air, I go online to read some nature news, thinking that will get me out of the mind-set that the world as we know it is coming to an end.

Big Mistake.

On one website, I learn that a piece of ice twice the size of Philadelphia is cracking off from the Antarctic ice shelf. The crack so far is about 20 miles long and up to 200 feet deep, and growing at a rate of nearly seven feet per day.

And it’s not even caused by “global warming.” I forget just now what the scientific term for the effect is, but it basically means “s**t happens.”

The whole thing is supposed to break off and start drifting around in the open sea later this year or early next year. Earth on the rocks, shaken, not stirred.

Nobody seems all that concerned. Maybe I shouldn’t be either. On the other hand, having a chunk of ice the size of a small South American nation bobbing around in the ocean just doesn’t sound like good news. Twice the size of Philly? At least it will be cleaner.

And then there’s the asteroid.

The news outlets describe it as an “aircraft carrier-sized asteroid, a little over four football fields in diameter.” It will pass by our little old home planet, closer to us than the moon.

And the moon is only about 250,000 miles away.

That sounds like a far piece, but in astronomic terms, that’s like having a bullet pass by your head close enough that you can hear it buzz.

It’s supposed to pass us by this coming Tuesday. Just so you know.

NASA, known for calling the catastrophic explosion of a Delta 2 rocket as “an anomaly,” has classified the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object.”

There was a time when if NASA said it would be a near miss, I’d relax. But not too long ago, the space agency aimed a satellite at Mars and missed the whole freaking planet, so, yeah, I’m gonna chew my nails just a little bit.

If this asteroid hits, it won’t be the end of the world, but it will bust things up pretty well. It would make a 4,000 megaton blast, (nearly 20,000 times the force of the bomb that fried Nagasaki), a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. If it hits the ocean, it could cause a tsunami 70 feet high. The tsunamis that hit Japan earlier this year were no more than a third that high.

One of the wire service stories said “Encounters of objects this large this close to our planet won’t happen again until the year 2028…” That one will be a wee bit closer than this one. Wonderful.

I closed the laptop and turned on CNN, only to see some goon in a suit dodging questions on his candidacy. I flipped over to the USA Network to an NCIS re-run. Give me over-the-top violence and improbable stunts any day. It beats watching a planet on the rocks and under fire, and anyway, I’d rather see the bad guys get blown away than elected.

A REALLY GOOD DAY

June 23, 2011

By T.W. Burger

It is hard to say just what makes one day more perfect than the other.

 

One day can be sunny and clear and in every aspect fine, but only run-of-the-mill fine.

 

The great thing about being a member of a species that lives longer than a mayfly, for example, is that most of us have an opportunity to have enough days and nights that we can compare one to the other, or at least note that one particular day has something that another lacked.

 

Or, maybe I just have too much time on my hands.

 

But, there it was. You just knew, in the way the rolling fields of timothy waved in the breeze on either side of Pumping Station Road, a scenic drive I normally would not normally take except as a detour.

 

The new bridge going up on the main road pushed me to this longer route, and most days I’m glad of it, except when I’m rushed.

 

I drove slowly, waving more impatient, and presumably more important, drivers around me, and ignored their scowls. I drove with the windows down, slowly enough to hear the breeze in the grass, and the rusty-hinge song of the redwing blackbirds.

 

Nearby, a man on a riding mower buzzed his lawn, an flying circus of barn swallows dive-bombing the bugs he stirred up. He seemed oblivious to the acrobatics of the birds, intent on making each row perfectly straight. There’s a parable there, I think; sometimes we pay close attention to all the wrong things.

 

But the day was too perfect for ponderous thoughts. Let the man keep his rows geometrical while a squadron of swallows filigreed the air. His loss.

 

Back home on the deck, a half mug of single malt at hand, I sat with my journal as the trees on both sides of the creek poured out cheeps and chirps, as their populations of songbirds held forth on their thoughts about the day’s proceedings, or on seed futures, or whatever they talk about at twilight, fidgeting from branch to twig, looking for a place to alight and settle as the shadows lengthen.

 

The leafy treetops flared in the setting sun, their green growing deeper closer to the busy ground below. Deer stirred in their thickets, preparing to make their clockwork trek from here to there on ancient paths now intersected with paved roads, and the predators slipped out, stretched, sniffed the air seeking prey that is not quite fast enough.

 

The leaves of the oak, hickory and maple waved coquettishly in the breeze, and I think I may have been a little drunk, but unsure whether it was the scotch or the day. I decided it was a little of both.

 

When it became dark enough that I could no longer see to write, I put away the pen, closed the journal. The trees across the creek had been reduced to jagged outlines against the pewter dusk, the air pestered by a convention of grackles griping about this and that, as they do.

 

Good smells drifted through the screen door from the kitchen, and I gathered up my things and moved indoors. The day wass gone, like thousands of others in my sixty-odd years. A real keeper, too.

           

 

© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:

https://burger2go.wordpress.com/

http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

 

 

Lost

January 4, 2011

My brother left his home in Georgia the day after Christmas, planning to make the 600-plus-mile trip to our aunt’s house in western Pennsylvania for a belated family Christmas.

It was our first family gathering since our mother’s funeral in September.

There are not a lot of us left. Me, David, our Aunt Shirley, a few cousins scattered around. It used to be that a holiday dinner would fill Shirley’s downstairs with people.

This year, all of us who could show up fit around a regular dining room table.

Sue and I left Baltimore, figuring we would get to Shirley’s roughly the same time David did.

We got there at 9:30 p.m., ate, drank some coffee, and waited for David.

And waited.

I sat for a couple of hours in a chair where I could see the street. Finally, at 1 a.m., we all turned in. Which is not to say any of us slept well. Shirley slept hardly at all. Sue and I awoke, I think, at every passing car, or sudden noise.

We were not especially close as children, David and I. We were not estranged. That word implies a rending. For whatever reason, we never got particularly close.

Until our mother’s final illness, that is.

First, I have to say that he was always sort of a hero to me. He always did things his way, even if doing so made his life harder.

He took care of Mom for years, though sometimes you would think they hated one another, as much as they fought. As she sank into dementia and physical disabilities, he had a lot to deal with. It was hard on all of us, but him most of all. Dealt with it, god knows how.

We talked more during that time, I think, than we had in the previous several decades.

Back at Shirley’s the phone rang at 6 a.m. on Monday.

In a stupor, I tried to get the call on my cell, though it was coming in on Shirley’s land-line. By the time I figured that out, the message had gone to the machine.

“I’ve had some trouble. I should be there in a couple of hours,” David said. That was it.

More than “a couple of hours” later, close to lunchtime, I got on the phone. I looked up the phone number David had called from – he refuses to carry a cell phone – and discovered it to be in a little town in the middle of nowhere in the Pennsylvania mountains, far from any major roads.

Did some quick estimating. He really should have arrived some hours before.

I did some quick checking on the computer and called the several state police barracks between Shirley’s home and David’s last position. No wrecks reported involving any cars of the kind David drives.

That was a relief, but 25 years working as a newspaper reporter gave me plenty of mental images to fuel my worry. Out of gas on some back road, or some other car trouble. Off in a ditch or ravine in some remote area. And on and on.

I laid on the floor for awhile and tried to think about anything else but what might be wrong. Sue had been looking out of the window as often I had been.

I could hear Shirley praying quietly as she busied herself in the kitchen.

I fell asleep, but my dreams were dark.

In the early afternoon, I awoke to find my oldest cousin and his wife walking into the house. I’m afraid my welcome was a little distracted.

Maybe half an hour later, David pulled up in the driveway. He walked into the kitchen, looking a little chagrined. Just in time for our post-Christmas feast.

I didn’t know whether to hug him or hit him.

I went for the hug. Life is too short, and we’re both on the shady side of it.

But I confess that I’m a little frustrated that he won’t say what happened. On the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. I can imagine all SORTS of adventures for him.

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© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:

https://burger2go.wordpress.com/

http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Just Deal With It

December 12, 2010

Well, here we go again.

Where I live, in south-central Pennsylvania, we’ve had our first dusting of snow for the season. It was perhaps an inch and all the grocery stores took hits in the bread, milk, egg and toilet paper departments.

The snow came as a punctuation to about a week of temps hereabouts that stayed on the shady side of freezing, with daily highs averaging about 10 degrees below normal, which put a couple of inches of ice across the top of the creek, and an inch of snow across that.

You do what you have to do.

I spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage, by which I mean re-stacking junk from one place to another – I can’t remember the last time I could actually get my car in there – and moving the lawnmowers into the back of the storage shed and making a space for the snowblower. I got the machine fueled and ran it for awhile to make sure everything was kosher, then parked it in its new space, ready to carve its way out to clear things up when we get our first real snow.

A friend in Fairhope, Alabama reported on Facebook just a couple of days ago that they were having snow, which did give me pause. Snow on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is a notable event. Farmers in Florida are taking emergency steps to protect their fruit crops, and the wire services are full of photos showing fountains frozen in Atlanta and dazed Georgians staggering around in what must feel like everything they own, trying to keep warm.

You know, what we here would call our fall wardrobe.

There will be some making wisecracks like “So, where’s your Global Warming now?” and similar remarks. I wish the folks who named the phenomenon had called it Climate Change, which is what it really is. In any case, a cold spell in December is not proof that the climate is or is not changing. The fact that the polar ice caps have retreated further than they have since they formed a kabillion years ago, is.

But, despite snow on the Alabama beaches and fountains frozen in the Peach state, it is, as a climatologist said on CNN recently, only winter, meaning that we should just all get over it and deal.

So, OK, this cold snap might mean nothing, or it might mean we’re in for the worst winter since, well, whenever the last bad one you can remember was.

Button up your house; drag out the sweaters and long underwear, and stop acting like it never happened before. Give some money and clothes to your local shelters so the unlucky don’t freeze to death, and maybe have a little more to eat this winter.

As for me, I’m going to hunker down and wait for the first real sign of spring….the arrival of the seed catalogs sometime in February.
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© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:
https://burger2go.wordpress.com/
http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

Kicking Back

October 5, 2010

A new fire crackles in the Franklin stove, armor against the growing chill.

The writing-for-money stuff has been put away for the day. Time to relax.

This little working harbor with its tiny fleet of lobster boats and a few pleasure craft lie quiet under an overcast sky. The bell buoy at the harbor mouth tolls over and over, promising an unquiet night for those on the open water.

Out in the Gulf of Maine the sea tosses, never easy, and waves smash on the boney coast.

From here, it sounds like breathing.

It has been a vacation of small adventures. Nothing hair-raising. Nothing that would make the papers. Saturday night our friend and neighbor Bob brought over a blueberry pie he had made that afternoon. We dug out the vanilla ice-cream, and an evening of dietary mayhem and great conversation ensued.

Yesterday, we spent an hour or so up in Waldoboro with Nate Nickoll, an artist of endless imagination who has populated his property with dancing figures, dragons, giant ants and frogs and mermaids, even a yellow submarine, all made from scrap metal. Sometimes he sells his creations, if he can bear to part with them.

This morning, I created my first breakfast involving scallops. It was a big hit. There’s no telling what might happen next.

And, no, this column doesn’t have a point, not as it would if I was tackling economics, or man’s inhumanity to man, or my personal glee at the demise of the Hummer. It’s just me taking time to disengage, knock it into neutral, and just be.

You should try it.

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© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:
https://burger2go.wordpress.com/
http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

I’ve seen a few houses fall down in my time. Demolition, fire, that sort of thing.

Never been in one while it was happening, though. Not until that night.

It was the last night of vacation for the year. It had started out calmly enough. It had rained heavily for the previous 24 hours, so we were ahead of the game. Instead of doing a lot of running around, we had sat in The Osprey, the little cabin on the Maine coast where we have vacationed on and off for the past 14 years, and had packed up most of our belongings.

I won’t say exactly where it is, because the people in that little community have so far escaped the worst of the thronging Maine tourist trade, and want to keep it that way. It’s on a working harbor, where almost all the boats moored there belong to lobstermen, and it’s common to awaken briefly in the pre-dawn hours to hear diesel engines muttering out toward the open water.

Not a bad way to start the day. At least for us. I’m guessing lobsterpersons feel the same way about their jobs as the rest of us do about ours: Some days, it’s fine. Most days, it’s just what you do to get by.

I’ll call the owner of the place Leo. He’s a retired school teacher on the shady side of 90, but still active. He and the live-in manager at the cottages, all of which are named after sea- or shore-birds, have been clearing several acres of woods for the past few years. It’s starting to look like a park.

I have a photo of Leo building The Osprey in the spring of 1950, a month after my first birthday. It was the first of a double handful of cottages that he would build over the next decade or so, perched on a long slope from the farmhouse where he was born and still lives, down to the saltwater.

People come to Leo’s cabins like they come to family reunions. Some have been coming for decades. Some who bring their children have been coming since they themselves were kids. Every cabin has a composition book sitting on one of the plain pine shelves, and just about everybody who stays keeps a journal in them about their time at the harbor. Sometimes the entries are about things to do, where to eat, tips about this and that. But over the years, some of the entries become more personal.

The writers are from New York, Maryland, Florida, England, New Mexico, and Texas. The entries were as varied as the people who wrote them, in penmanship neat and tidy or fat and loopy. Kathy A. and her dog Simon spent a month at The Tern every year from 1981 until June of 1987, when Simon, she noted, turned 12 years old. Then she disappeared from the record.

A family from Hartford, Ct., bring their cats Signe and Moussey, and spend their vacation time seeking landmarks familiar to their ancestors: “Traveled to Acadia – 3 hrs. – and got seats on the mail boat from Northeast Harbor out to Baker island….to visit the lighthouse that was manned in the 1800s by our great grandfather. It was a thrill to be the first relatives in all that time to return to the remote island.”

In September of 1987, a New Jersey woman named Nora stayed four days at The Tern with her 14-month-old son: “We are here because we have just suffered an intense personal loss and I, at least, am seeking restoration in Maine. My son is oblivious to the unfairness of life.”

So, coming to The Osprey every year is a respite, but something that is a part of other lives, indirectly, yes, but a dance, of sorts, a shared ballet with strangers and the ragged coast of Maine. I once researched the address and phone number for several families who stayed in The Osprey and, before that, The Tern. But I never contacted any of them. It would be out of step, a break in the dance.

So, there we sat, the last Friday night of the trip. Everything but what we would need for the trip home was packed, zipped, tied, rubber-banded or otherwise tucked away. I would have already loaded the car, but the night was very dark and the grass slippery from the rain. I thought to wait until first thing in the morning.

The stereo was packed, so there was no music but the soughing of the wind ‘round the corners of the cabin, and the faint slap of waves on the rocks below. Just about every light was on, because the night somehow wanted brightness.

In a bit, I thought, I would light a fire, read a bit before taking a shower, and then go to bed.

About 15 minutes later, the front door popped open. I started to get up to close it, and the house fell down.

No, really.

The Osprey dropped about three feet on the harbor side and started sliding. I sat down – hard – in my chair, and clutched my bowl of ice cream tightly to my chest and waited, wondering if we would hit the water. All the furniture and luggage in the room slid toward us. Sue sat in her chair, eyes the size of saucers. Lamps fell, flared, and went dark. Vases leapt from shelves, books and touristy gee-gaws followed. Then, everything was still except for Sue’s alarmed “Eek!”

I finished my ice cream, waiting to see if The Osprey was done fidgeting. I got up, and said: “Damn.”

The power was still on, though we could hear that a water pipe somewhere had broken. I was very happy that I had decided not to build a fire in the Franklin stove after all

I stepped to the front door. The porch lay at a crazy angle, and had come to rest several feet from the steps.

“Damn,” I said again, figuring if I couldn’t be useful, I would at least be consistent.

I climbed over the porch, and looked around.

The rain had so soaked the ground that the front piers had slipped out from under the cabin. The Osprey had dropped, and then slid toward the harbor bank about three feet. This was a matter of great interest to me, because the edge of the bank was only about five feet away to begin with. It was quite a ride.

It took a couple of hours to get us set up in another cabin for the night, and about as long the next morning to get the rest of our things out over the tilted, linoleum floor and busted porch.

Melinda, Leo’s daughter, told us the next day that the family was considering their options for what to do. The Osprey was actually in good shape….not even a window broken or a wall awry. But it was old, and at the bottom of a steep slope. One of the options, she said, was simply to do away with it.

That hit me later, halfway home, when I realized I still had the key to The Osprey. I emailed Melinda and told her I’d get it back to her. But inside, I knew there might not be any real reason to do that.

Whatever they do, I hope they remember the little stack of composition books somewhere on the floor of the old cabin. It would be a real shame to lose all those stories, all those steps in the long dance.

(Note: This column first appeared in late Oct. of 2007. I am happy to report that the Osprey is settled sturdily on a fresh concrete foundation, and in a few weeks I will be back in it for two weeks.)

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© 2010 Marsh Creek Media,

Gettysburg, Pa.

“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:

https://burger2go.wordpress.com/

http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

It was September in Key West, well past midnight and quite warm.

The pier on which we sat stretched out pale and luminescent under a clear sky and a full moon, far out into pale jade water. The lounge chairs creaked now and then as one or the other of us shifted our weight.

We rarely spoke, there at the southernmost tip of our country, while hell raked Cuba, 90 miles away.

The sky glittered cloudless overhead. The southern horizon, however, glowered an inky, impenetrable black, laced throughout with lightning. From east to west, as far as vision could follow, a constant curtain of lightning, a steady growl of thunder filled the air, a continuo under the quiet lapping of the water and sighing of the wind. We sat, transfixed, for hours.

I never hear thunder that I don’t think of that storm, and the eerie, jeweled spot from which I watched it.

This week has been one of storms where I live now. Some pretty good ones, too; lots of wind and rain, lightning and thunder. A little flooding here and there, branches and wires down.

Not the biggest we’ll get, mind you. Those will come mid-summer, real Old Testament howlers that come down from the Appalachians and stomp around like God in a royal snit.

I love storms. I don’t like the damage they do, but that sort of comes with the territory. I’ve been lucky over the years and avoided being injured or having a lot of property damage. Well, there was the time when parts of a mobile home I was living in wandered away during a big winter gale about 25 years ago. To tell you the truth, the morning after that storm, I was a little bit surprised when I looked outside that my home hadn’t changed ZIP codes.

As I said, I love storms. As a kid I used to climb a pine tree in our back yard and ride the wind-bursts. Obviously, my parents knew nothing about this. Just as obviously, the tree wasn’t in a place that attracted lightning, or this column would be a lot shorter.

I think I like being reminded that humans are really not as in charge as we’d like to think we are. Few things do that as well as extravagant weather. Simple-minded evangelicals like to use bad weather as proof of our iniquity, that God is punishing us for our sins. But they miss the point entirely. So much preaching comes down to ego, when you come down to it. The universe, in that world view, was created as a stage for us to conduct our little morality plays. It’s all about us.

We really need to get rid of that whole idea. Storms are random. Nature itself has its own purpose, its own dance to perform. And we’re caught up in it, an integral part, to be sure, but only a part. I am an atheist, but I sometimes like to imagine God up there, rolling storms down off the east slope of South Mountain like so many atmospheric bowling balls, just to see what happens.

© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:
https://burger2go.wordpress.com/
http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/

The Bear

January 10, 2010

Inside this old farmhouse, the wood-burning stove roared like a jet, the heavy glass window casting a warm orange glow into the room. Monty the Springer spaniel laid in a snoring crescent not too far from the fire.

Good smells wafted from the kitchen.

It was Sunday night, the end of a visit to the farm from Sue’s kids who hail from, variously, Baltimore and Brussels.

The old house, well over two centuries old, rollicked with laughter, good food, good times. The kids and Monty explored the outdoors, skated, with assorted success, on the pond, and generally kept the rabbits and the family of red foxes on edge.

A couple of days ago, Sue’s youngest son discovered a bear track on the far side of the pond. He captured an image of it on his digital camera.

Last night I walked Monty along the lane gawking at the blazing stars, and kept telling myself that if the bear were nearby, the dog would surely bring it to my attention.

Monty was noncommittal.

Despite the cracking low temps, I kept Monty out for awhile after his errand was finished, just taking it all in.

It was cold, the coldest winter, so far, in a number of years. Hence the farm pond that will hold the weight of several rambunctious teens and a rollicking dog. And no, I didn’t try, though on last night’s walk, Monty was ready for another scramble on the ice.

Back inside, sexy Caribbean music rocked the old stones, and the smells from the kitchen intensified. It was almost time for supper, and leave-taking.

In the starry dark outside, I thought of the bear, an older citizen of these woods by far than this old farm, pacing the fields, the re-frozen snow crunching underfoot.
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© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:
https://burger2go.wordpress.com/
http://burger2goclassics.wordpress.com/