Wheatfield Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Photograph by Robert Clements

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This One is for Devon

  • Two goats, one hat. Photo by Robert Clements.
I've been an on-steroids hummingbird migrating back and forth between Maine and South Dakota since July 6th, and I haven't settled enough to have any deep thoughts. Okay, I seldom have deep thoughts, but I haven't had cohesive thoughts. Mainly, observations and jumbled thoughts and feelings about the craziness of life since May. And it promises to become more nuts as we move along.

July travel to Maine. Not as bad as I expected, and way too fast for a Massachusetts state trooper who waved me over from the middle of the highway (!) at the bottom of a long drop in the Berkshires wherein I came in first (I win!) down the hill. The new car with the bigger engine took some getting used to and cruise control is now my friend. We drive faster in western South Dakota, and the roads are largely deserted. I have gotten used to a clear view and don't like folks in my way. Anyway, the little dog with the mournful eyes in the back seat saved me some money on the ticket, as the trooper has a small Japanese house dog. Thanks, Rua. Songs for the road: Joe Bonamassa - Dustbowl and Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Thanks, Joe.

Maine Homecoming. Joyful, sweet, humid and hot. It's hot and dry in South Dakota. Different weather. A different palette, as a friend says. I never have craved lobster, but I did this trip back home. This tells me that I've become a bit of an ex patriot. Loved seeing the family and loved what friends I connected with. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I can't see them all. It's a Catch 22 - want to see friends, but want time on my own terms. But I've talked about that before and it's a pipe dream chasing a windmill tucked deep inside an illusion.

Wedding. my nephew got married at home, and it was a joyful, beer-laden - wine-laden in my case -  experience. Music? Rap, mostly, with a few oldies thrown in for those of us who stopped advancing musically at hip hop. Lots of fun. Bob had arrived by that time and was over his airplane sickness. It was good to have him back East. We went out to dinner a few times, saw some beloved friends, and generally got fat before traveling back home.
From my sister's garden. Cosmos, in a tizzy about the upcoming nuptials.
Back to South Dakota. Another ticket (not mine), though, this time in Maine. Cruise control and a radar detector. And a flat tire in Indiana. If you have to get a flat tire, it's nice to get one there. Good, helpful Hoosiers. Sweet little town with many hanging plants. Flat fixed, and on to Madison, Wisconsin, to paradise in the form of a gracious friend with a pool and a large house and again, more food than we should have eaten but did. Cherry butter, anyone? Cheese up the wazoo? Crazy corn? And once again, entering western South Dakota, a massive, snarling thunderstorm forced us under an overpass with several other vehicles.  Yippee. Home.

Bikers. Lots of them in early August, buzzing like pumped-up bees. We returned because we figured they'd want some art, and some did, but mostly, well, no. Many of them come from places where they are someone completely different from the persona they adopt while they git-their-motors-running in South Dakota. Nice folks, most of them. Noticed lots of 'trikes' this year. Three-wheelers for those who are, a.) getting older and less able to handle two wheels on the hard top, and b.) getting older and less able to handle two wheels on the hard top. A four-day street dance was held right in front of the gallery. Next year, I'm grabbing the feckin' mike away from whomever was trying to sing out there. Really. It's not too late to start my rock and roll career, as long as I can get into my jammies and go to bed right after the gigs.

Maine. Again. This time for five days of family and a very few friends. My beloved sister decided to have a larger party - the wedding reception was small - so she invited everyone she ever knew. I flew home this time. I definitely need a neck pillow for my next trip, to Toronto next week, because a.) I'm getting older and my next hurts and, b.) I'm getting older and my neck hurts. The party was fabulous and loving and warm. My niece scattered black and white photos amongst the tables. Some of the bittersweet images gave us all a glimpse of those no longer with us, but no less with us at all. Oh, where are they now? I hope they're all happy, and that they knew how much they were loved. Anyway, one of the fun parts of the party was that my sister invited her high-school gang of friends, women I basically modeled as the main characters of Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea. They are fun, fearless, in-life, and hardy. They've, collectively, had many things happen to them in their lives, both good and bad, but the upshot is, they keep on going, and they all shine. Fabulous women. Long may they run.

Home. Flew back and got off the plane to Bob and Rua and my car in the parking lot, very late at night. The first thing I noticed was the smell of the air. Sweet, sage and grass. Stars and stars in the big, wide sky. South Dakota is like a Crazy Horse, sweet and calm, terrible and mythical. For the first time since I've come to the prairie, I felt as if I was coming home. I could stay here for a while, I think. Besides, when I travel back to Maine, where my heart ticks for always, I can always have lobster from Gilmore's Seafood.

Gorgeous morning at the lake in Ontario.
Toronto. This happened after the home entry. Flew for five days to Toronto, to visit my dear friends the Moss Beebes and to meet my friend, Beth, there. We drove to a lake far up into the north of Ontario, where we wrote and wrote, drank wine and ate chocolate. I walked the dog and jumped into the water on the last morning there. We watched Dr. Who and I read The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning. Highly recommend it. This time, I found my own way back to Belle Fourche in the Santa Fe, in the dark of night, the prairie lapping the sides of the car, cruising under the star-studded sky. And NOW I'm home for at least three months! October coming up. It'll be weird not to help Dad with the acorns in the yard, but I need to settle. I need to write a book.

Time to settle down for a spell. First frost due tonight, September 29th.