Monday, July 23, 2018

Legacy

Just because I haven’t posted a blog entry for a long, long time doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.  I have been, but in various ways.  I must admit, most of my writing has been mostly emails, but there has been much else accomplished as well.  Enough, in fact, to bring the idea of personal legacy to mind. 

As a retired public school teacher, I trust one element of my legacy on this plane of existence has been the students I have impacted in one way or another.  There is one kid who wished me un-well on Facebook, but most of the former students I’ve heard from are in the midst of raising families and feeling pretty good about being in touch with an ‘old teacher.’  I do enjoy seeing photos of their kids and reports on job successes and vacation expeditions.  I haven’t done the math, but many of my Facebook friends are, in fact, former students.  I’ve had lunch with a few of ‘em in the last few years, too.  It is good to hear how they are getting along. 

Aside from the human contact, though, a couple very dynamic things are coming together at the moment that brings the idea of personal legacy to mind.  You know:  what products of my existence may or will live on in their own rite long after I’m gone?    

First thing I would think about, as you might guess, is some of my writing.  I am pleased to report my book has reached the milestone of ‘completed first draft.’  Such is an accomplishment, for sure, having borne fruit over the last five winters.  

Initial work on Nature’s People: The Hog Island story from Mabel Loomis Todd to Audubon began back in the early 1980s when I was completing my humanities masters at Wright State.  The Emily Dickinson graduate workshop with Jim Hughes got me started, with the MHum culminating with a long paper and a slide show about that first trek to Emily’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts, closely followed by two weeks at the Audubon Ecology Camp in Maine on Hog Island.  

By the time I retired in 2002, I was aware that basically nobody would ever read my humanities project filed amid all the graduate projects in the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at WSU.  I had been thinking about it for a while, but upon being on island that summer for a Friends of Hog Island annual meeting, I stood in front of that cohort of Nature lovers and committed to writing a book that expanded on the original and would be a good history of Hog Island, which, by the way, has never been written.  I thought way back then that my book should be dedicated to Bart & Ginny Cadbury, early island stalwarts and FOHI founders.  Material gathering started right away, but actual text didn’t start to form until winter 2014.  Five years and a whole bunch of interviews later, a first draft exists.  

While the book is moving along at it’s own pace, the rector at our church, Rev. John Paddock, hooked me up into facilitating a construction project at venerable old Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Dayton.  

Back in the 1960s when the Great Lady of First Street, the parish’s affectionate name for our current building, received it’s first real upgrade since it opened in 1870, a lovely little chapel was added to the building’s footprint.  It became known as The Reconciliation Chapel in honor of our parish’s affiliation with groups in the United Kingdom and Germany who hoped to heal wounds caused in war.  

Unfortunately for our chapel, walls were engineered in error somehow and when it was discovered the wall facing First Street was in danger of coming down, the painful decision was made to raze the cozy little structure.  

The plan was to find some meaningful public use for this newly open space.  One thought was to install a canopy over a paver floor to create an outdoor sacred space.  Another thought was to install art depicting a variety of believers at the Last Supper.  The best usable idea that coalesced over time was to install a meditative labyrinth.  


And so over the last fifteen months I have facilitated what we like to think of ourselves as The Labyrinth Guild.  We started by inviting John Ridder of Paxworks, an experienced labyrinth designer and installer from Indianapolis, to talk with us about how to proceed.  We started with asking a parishioner, Pete Price, who was also owner Stillwater Builders at the time, what our project would take.  With Pete’s help, a construction summary was assembled and distributed to whichever contractor wanted to make a bid. 

We hoped to generate at least three bids, and when all was said and done six months or so later, that’s what we got.  The bid was awarded to Castor Construction while a separate bid for a paver walkway given to Groundskeeper Landscaping Group.  

As I write this, paver orders/labyrinth construction donations have been coming in for the last few weeks and if all goes well, concrete will be poured yet this week.  John Ridder is confident he can have our ‘eagle crest’ pattern etched into the concrete and stained this fall.  We’re thinking a grand opening next spring. 

I realize my blog entries have started to sound like an old guy reflecting on life.  Well, I suppose it is.  This next weekend I participate in Carroll High School class of 1968’s fifty year reunion.  Trust me, I’ve always thought folks who celebrate fifty years out of high school were old fogies.  Turns out most of us in the class turn 70 in two years.  I’ll let you decide what a fogey is.  :-) 

But when The Reconciliation Labyrinth is finished and open for our parish and friends to use, and Nature’s People makes it through the inevitable gauntlet it faces, I will have two concrete contributions that should go on ‘giving’ in my stead for some time to come.  

And that feels both humbling and damn fine. 

Today’s elder idea:   ‘All in God’s time.’ 
John Ridder
Paxworks

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An American rebel

Back in the early 1980s, I had been teaching junior high English for a decade when I finally got started working on my master’s degree.  I must admit, I look back on that time as some of my most fertile years.  I was in my 30s with a couple of cute little girls at home and a wife who was finishing her undergrad work.  We were buying a house, drove a pretty decent car, and were living the American dream.  Life was good.  

By spring 1982, I had fallen in love with Emily Dickinson and was taking a second course with my Wright State guru, Jim Hughes, who this time around was teaching a graduate workshop focusing on rebellion as a hallmark of American character.  We talked about lots of folks from Walt Whitman to James Dean, all very different American rebels, but individuals worthy of study.  

One of our assignments was to interview a contemporary American rebel, as far as I could figure, then create a one page handout to share with the class.  A quandary, indeed.  Who did I know that qualified as a rebel?  

Thinking it over these days, I don’t recall knowing many professed gay individuals back then.  One gentleman I knew well at Rike’s, where I worked part time, told the story of losing his teaching job because a colleague of his found out about him being homosexual, reported him to the high school principal, and after a brief call to the office, was told to pack up his gear that day and remove himself from the premises.  No hearing.  No due process.  Just out because he was working with kids and had admitted to being gay.  

It became clear to me that ‘coming out of the closet’ was a dangerous life changer.  Which got me to thinking that, perhaps, men and women who admitted a homosexual identity in a culture that denigrated such practice were revolutionaries.  Which lead me to consider a neighbor of mine as my American rebel.  

I met Bill Coulter, oddly enough, at the junior high school where I taught.  As advisor to the photo club, I had agreed to assist helping with the yearbook since the kids could print black & white pics in the darkroom and get ‘em published in the yearbook.  Good opportunity for them to find their work in print.  Turned out Bill was not just the Josten’s yearbook representative, but a neighbor of mine who lived just two blocks away.  We ended up socializing some, and our wives enjoyed each other’s company, so all was good.  

But then the day came when Bill announced he was gay.  His wife was stunned, as you might imagine, and came over one day to help Chris and me with some painting.  What we got that day was a cathartic soul cleanse of disbelief and betrayal.  Shortly thereafter, she moved back home to Akron and we never heard from her again. 

Bill stayed in Dayton for a time.  I remember sitting with him in his living room talking about these new developments.  I remember best his challenge for me to come up with ten of the most beautiful people I could think of that I could generate a healthy sexual fantasy about.  He assumed some of my ten would be male.  I didn’t see it that way, because all of my ten were women.  Still, the exercise got me to thinking.  

Some time later Bill went to work for the Dayton Daily News as a writer.  Because of him, I was asked to join the newspaper photo team as a stringer to help record the newspaper’s annual River Run event.  Some time after that he pulled up stakes in Dayton for Miami, Florida, where he intended to really get his writing career into gear.  Not long after we lost touch.  

But it was while Bill was working for the DDN that the American rebel assignment came up.  The one pager I created for class resurfaced this week as I was clearing clutter — and boxes of old books — out of my office here at home.  Thinking about a gay friend as a ‘rebel’ strikes me as odd today, but it got me to thinking about the pre-AIDS 1980s and how much as changed since then.  

For what it’s worth, here is bit of time capsule from a more innocent time.  

***
Interview with an American rebel
March 1982

It occurs to me that rebellion is an intensely personal expression.  Though much rebellion we’ve talked about this quarter emanated from national issues and social phenomenon, the ultimate expression of the rebel is personal. 

Bill has been a friend of mine for the last couple of years.  He drifted into my life and has since drifted out again, though I think of him often.  His expressions of rebellion made me question myself more critically.  The whole relationship has been somewhat mysterious to me, but I thank him for his influence. 

Before I met him, Bill set out to do what was best for himself.  Like Robert Frost, he tried to unite his ‘avocation and vocation / As my two eyes make one in sight.’  He began by leaving his nest in Akron to take a position here that forced him out of his academic womb.  He sold yearbooks. 

He’s still flying.  Today, that flight has led him to Miami, Florida.  On his journey he has discovered that he must write.  And that he is gay.  My questions come from my wanting to understand his ‘coming out,’ both as a writer and as a homosexual.  

Q. How do you react now to the changes in lifestyle the you had to deal with a few years ago? 
A. With relief.  I’m utterly relieved that it’s over.  When I look back now, I see a kind of depthless overcast, clouding over the good times and the bad.  Little specific remains.  Emotionally, what I recall is an unrelenting loneliness, a loneliness I couldn't even understand at the time but which, nevertheless, pervaded everything I did and thought and felt. 

Q. Do you classify yourself as a ‘rebel’ regarding your sexuality? 
A. That’s a relative term.  I suppose within the world I knew several years ago, yes, I was kind of a rebel….  I was a rebel, I imagine — not because I was gay, but because I admitted it. 

Q. Do you classify yourself as a ‘rebel’ regarding your work and lifestyle?  
A. Again, it’s relative.  Because I write, some people believe I’m quite extraordinary, bucking convention, etc., etc.  Because I am gay and live with another man, some people might call me a rebel.  Still, I know other writers who seem more rebellious than I.  The only thing that I would say might be rebellious about my attitude toward things is that I believe one must be and do what one feels is right for oneself, not what one sees everybody else being and doing.  I do not do things because they are rebellious; rather, because I have to. 

Q. A lot of changes accompanied your ‘coming out.’  How related were they?  
A. Sexuality involves more than what you do in bed.  It involves a sensibility — a way of experiencing life and thinking about things.  This is true for heterosexuals as much as for homosexuals.  But my particular decision to leave a steady job, for example, and write for a living is not a characteristic homosexual act.  Rather, it was my act, part of me, part of the me I had never acknowledged yet yearned to be.  Once I faced up to being gay, acknowledged it to my wife and my family and went through the divorce, being me the rest of the way was easy.  

Q. How do you feel about your courage? 
A. Ironically, it occurred to me that I was a coward — because I had never confronted these issues before.  But there was courage, lots of it….  No one else has to die with my conscience.  And like many bitter old men and women I’ve met, had I failed to live my life as I saw fit, I would have gone through life regretting rather than living.  

Today’s elder idea:   ‘When I was 14, I came very close to becoming a gay teen “statistic,” but I then turned to music, my piano, my loved ones, and discovered that it does, in fact, get better.’

Blake McIver Ewing

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

from Kentucky


So much water has passed under the bridge since my last blog entry.  I hope you haven’t missed The Back Porch too much.  Truth is, I have found other audiences, mostly in person-to-person emails.  Don’t know if that’s a natural progression, but it has been for me. 

I have been at Lake Cumberland, near Monticello, Kentucky since early January working on the last chapters of Nature’s People: The Hog Island story from Mabel Loomis Todd to Audubon.  2017 should be a big year in getting Nature’s People in front of other Nature’s People.  

***
I am a real fan of Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac podcast poetry postings.  I must say I don’t pay much attention to the rest of the almanac, but I read the poem out loud to myself every day.  Many days I find the verse appropriate for forwarding to a friend or family member I think the poem might speak to.  Perhaps you have been target for one or more of them.  

The first poem below ran on the podcast one day last week and drew my attention because it was about a bird stuck inside a church.  Two weeks ago on a still-dark rainy morning here, I opened the door to the deck to check the weather — and a wren flew right inside the house.  I felt panicked immediately as I quickly shut bedroom doors and opened every outside door I could.  I so hoped the little critter wouldn’t do something horrible like fly into a window full speed.  

I armed myself with the only broom in the house and proceeded to herd the wren back into a more natural space.  It took maybe five minutes, but the sweet little singer finally left by the same door she came in.  She sat on the deck railing for a few minutes, cocking her head, perhaps wondering what the heck that was all about.  

I was glad to get her back outside, and at the same time felt blessed by her unexpected visit.  A buddy did some research for me and found that wrens in our lives encourage us to believe in ourselves and sing strong. I have been grateful for the visit ever since I closed the door with Miss Carolina safely back out in the rain.   

And then there is that other ‘bird in a church’ poem by Pattiann Rogers that I like so much. It is because of poems like ‘For the wren trapped in a cathedral’ that I became an authentic Pattiann fan.  Got to talk to her briefly in Denver once.  I find her work inspirational.   

Neither poem appears here with any kind of permission from the publisher.  I hope I’m not in violation of any copyrights, it’s just that I wanted to share their work with you.  

Think of this as a little pre-Lent meditation.  

***


Holy Ghost 

The congregation sang off key.
The priest was rambling.
The paint was peeling in the Sacristy.

A wayward pigeon, trapped in the church,
flew wildly around for a while and then
flew toward a stained glass window,

but it didn’t look like reality.

The ushers yawned, the dollar bills
drifted lazily out of the collection baskets
and a child in the front row began to cry.

Suddenly, the pigeon flew down low,
swooping over the heads of the faithful
like the Holy Ghost descending at Pentecost

Everyone took it to be a sign,
Everyone wants so badly to believe.
You can survive anything if you know
that someone is looking out for you,

but the sky outside the stained glass window,
doesn’t it look like home ?

from Fatherless Women
(Cape Cod Literary Press  2004) 





For the Wren Trapped in a Cathedral   
by Pattiann Rogers

She can never remember how she entered--
What door, what invisible gate, what mistaken 
Passage.  But in this place every day, 
The day shines as a muted mosaic of impenetrable 
Colors, and during the black moonless nights, 
Every flickering star lifts smoke, drips wax. 
She flies, back and forth through the nave, small, 
Bewildered among the forest of branchless trees, 
Their straight stone trunks disappearing majestically
Into the high arches of the seasonless stone sky. 
No weather here, except the predictable weather 
Of chant and procession; no storm, except the storm 
Of the watchdogs let loose inside at night. 

Now when she perches on the bishop’s throne 
Her song naturally imitates the pattern 
Of frills and flutes found in the carvings there, 
The hanging fruit, profuse foliage, ripened 
Curves.  Her trills have adapted themselves 
To fit perfectly the detailed abundance 
Of that wooden Paradise. 

And she has come to believe in gods, swerving close 
To the brightness of the apse, attempting to match 
Her spread wings, her attitude, to that of the shining 
Dove caught there in poised flight above the Ark. 
Near the window of the upper chapel, she imagines 
She is that other bird, emanating golden rays 
To the Christ in the river below. 

Resting on a colonnade opposite the south wall
Of stained glass, she watches how the lines 
Of her wings become scarlet and purple 
With Mary’s Grief.  And when she flies the entire 
Length of the side aisle, she passes 
Through the brown-orange swath of light 
From the Journey into Egypt, the green and azure 
Of the Miracle of the Five Thousand Fed. 
Occasionally she finds that particular moment 
And place where she is magnificently transformed, 
The dull brown of her breast becoming violet
And magenta with the Adoration of the Magi. 

What is it that happens to her body, to bone 
And feather and eye, when, on some dark evenings, 
She actually sees herself covered, bathed, suffused
In the red blood of the Crucifixion?

Among the statues at night, she finds it a peace, 
A serenity, to pause, to murmur in sleep
Next to the ear of a saint, to waken 
Nested on the outstretched hand
Of the Savior’s unchanging blessing. 

Certainly she dreams often of escape, of reversing 
That process by which she came to be here, leaving 
As an ordinary emissary carrying her own story, 
Sacred news from the reality of artifice, 
Out into the brilliant white mystery
Of the truthful world. 
from Firekeeper:  New and Selected Poems
(Milkweed  1994)

***

images:  Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, East Anglia, U.K.

Tom Schaefer / fall 2013

Friday, September 30, 2016

Colorado, redux




He was born in the summer of his 27th year
coming home to a place he’d never been before…
John Denver

It was, indeed, the summer of 1977, my twenty-seventh year on the planet, that I first visited Colorado.  Back then all focus was on Rocky Mountain National Park and a backpack trip with my wife and little Jennifer, age four.  Up Roaring River trail to a couple high country backpack camp sites took us away from park traffic and into the quiet, sublime world of pine and aspen.  Such a good time it was. 

And, if the truth be told, my idea of Colorado for many years had been that ‘north of I-70’ variety: green, lovely, and full of magic mountain peaks.  Then about ten years later my buddy Mark Maley invited me to collaborate on his Geology Field Study summer high school trips to the American Southwest to show kids a broad collection of some of the most spectacular exposed rock anywhere in the world.  The high point of those expeditions were long, strenuous hikes down into and out of the Grand Canyon, though Colorado sites played a role in our travels, primarily Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verdi, and Rocky Mountain National Parks.  

But it wasn’t until I heard the Paul Winter Consort’s ‘Crestone’ album that a new personal vision of Colorado replaced the first.  I suppose my affection for Paul & his musical crew solidified with his ‘Canyon’ album, recorded just about the time of the first GFS three week expedition.  I used cuts from that album for two-projector slideshows to both remind those young ‘uns who went of their adventure and interest other potential trekkers of what awaited them.  But what really got in my head was that Winter & his consort of fine musicians recorded many of their albums away from the studio and out in wild locations where the ambience of side canyons and natural amphitheaters combined with instruments to capture the essence of truly magnificent places.

Their ‘Crestone’ album won a Grammy back in 2007 and caught my attention soon thereafter.  As with all of Winter’s recorded-on-location albums, I wanted to know more about the venue.  Turned out Crestone is an old mining town on the western skirt of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, not in northern Colorado where much is green, but in the dry, sandy southern San Luis valley, a chunk of real estate locals like to say is ‘the size of Connecticut.’  The recording actually took place at Crestone Lake, high in elevation in the presence of a handful of 14,000 foot peaks.  It didn’t take me long to conjure up the need for a new family trip into that mountain state to see just what Crestone and environs were about.  

If you are a regular reader of The Back Porch blog, all of this might sound familiar.  It was summer 2009, a couple years after the release of the ‘Crestone’ album, that wife Cindy and I headed cross country to hang out in Crestone at the Nada Hermitage there for two weeks to soak up what was offered.  I’m pretty sure I wrote an entry in my newly minted blog every day then, reflecting on what felt important. 

Much life and travel have happened since then.  This week marks my fourth venture into the San Luis, my third with Cindy.  One trip included grandson Noah, family friend Adel, and another good buddy and former student, Bruce.  For that trip we stayed in a rental home, but all other visits have been at Nada.  

Since that time, too, I discovered a former high school teacher I was very fond of and husband had retired about a hour north of Crestone just below the Collegiate Peaks.  Needless to say, visits up that way to the Arkansas valley near Buena Vista were in order.  In fact, Cindy & I fixed dinner for Phyllis just the other evening before we sat and witnessed the first Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and He Who Must Not Be Named.  Lovely visit it was, too.  

Still, if we learn anything as an aging adult, nothing is so sure as change.  Early this year Phyllis lost her husband to a nasty condition, leaving her and their good dog buddy, Libby, holding down their fort in the mountains.  And just this week we heard that the good people of Nada — the completely overworked three of them — have decided they cannot continue their ministry.  They’ve been in touch with attorneys to figure out the best way to make their exit.  One more year, for sure, but after that only the Lord knows.

Nobody ever said change was easy, even if it opens up new ventures not anticipated.  Such is true for Suzie, Connie, and Eric, our Nada friends.  Same for Phyllis.  Same for Cindy & me.  

But one thing is true:  Colorado’s geological peaks and rivers will remain the same during our brief lifetimes.  We’ll be back to the Sangres, that I truly hope.  When we do, though, we’ll be looking for new adventures.  I trust we’ll find them. 

Today’s elder idea:   A daily practice of listening, watching, and waiting blesses us and the world we live in. 

Anne Silver
from ‘Playing and Praying Our Way to the Stars’
in Nada’s Desert Call, fall 2016

images:  top:  Fall panorama at Ohaver (O’Haver?) Lake (National Forest campground), accessible via Poncha Pass

lower:  Tom & Cindy at Nada with our ‘little house’ in the background.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Red 'n me

When I was a kid old enough to get a driver’s license, I didn’t worry about it too much.  My folks had one car and with all the comings & goings of a family with seven kids, the odds of my getting the Mercury Comet for a football game or an evening to drive across town with my girlfriend to see a movie were slight to none.  Thanks to good-buddy classmate Bob Kesler for providing dependable wheels back then.  

Truth is I’ve never been too jazzed on cars.  A couple friends had to have high performance Chrysler products, but when I acquired my first car the sole decision was if I could afford to run it and pay for insurance.  Fast and beautiful cars seemed like a world away for me.  Maybe it was being one in a big family that did it:  there was never much to go around, and what did go around was enough.  We all had decent clothes and nobody ever went to bed hungry, but my fixating on an expensive car for me was something beyond my comprehension.  

I finally got my license the summer after senior year.  Or was it junior year?  Can’t recall exactly, but it didn’t make any real difference until I started taking the bus every day to Wright State.  From the time the bus pulled out of the Fauver Avenue bus loop and dropped me off downtown for a transfer out East Third Street to the WSU connection, at least 45 minutes had passed.  Waiting for that last bus and actually getting to campus took another 20 minutes minimum.  As much as I celebrate public transit, the time spent in making all those connections twice a day took its toll on my impatient self.  By October of that year I was in negotiation with a disabled neighbor I had helped over the years who had a car I knew she would never drive again.  She eventually agreed to sell it to me for $375. 

And, I don’t mind saying, that car was damned cool:  a 1956 Chevy Bellaire.  Sweet and classic, not that I was all that aware in 1968.  Acquiring the car was a real personal challenge, that’s for sure.  My mother was not in favor and my dad reluctantly agreed, I had the sense, because he figured I had come of age.  Truth was, I was making the biggest investment in my life to date under the watchful eyes of parents who questioned if it was the right decision.  Nah, no pressure.  :-/

And, as you might have guessed, the car drove me to the poorhouse.  The twelve year old Chevy had only 24k miles on it, spending much time parked in a garage.  That meant, of course, that gaskets, belts, and other expensive systems had run their life’s course and were ready for replacement.  Just about then my bank assigned me a brand new product — a bank credit card — not a credit card from Rike’s or Elder-Beerman or Sears.  I could use my Master Card anywhere, most frequently at Parson’s Gulf at the corner of Smithville and Wayne.  You getting the picture?  

In any case, I had a great deal of fun in that old Bellaire.  My girlfriend back then still remembers how cool it was that you had to lower the back taillight to access the gasoline tank.  The car had bench seats, too, and I have to tell those of you who have only driven in bucket seats, bench is far better on a date.  Trust me on that one.  

There’s an Infinity commercial out now that professes the only way to judge is car is by how it makes the driver feel.  Again, I’m not sure I agree with that completely, but it does get me to thinking about how cars I’ve owned have somehow helped shape how I feel about myself.  I don’t know how far I’ve driven in my life, but my guess it’s been about half a million miles.  That’s a lot of time, my friend, for developing a relationship with a constructed device that has the task of protecting you and family and getting all safely to your destination.  One doesn’t forget flat tires changed on interstates and cars on garage lifts changing stripped out oil plugs or toasted alternators.

I’ve kept the last few cars assigned to me successfully on the road for ten years each.  They probably could have gone farther, but ten years seemed okay with me.  By that time in the family financial cycle Cindy’s car would be paid for and it would be my turn.  

First off I have to say I feel more connected to cars now than I used to.  It has been a personal progression.  Now the vehicle doesn’t just cover one of the prime loves in my life — travel & seeing places — but also the entire music genre I own.  If you know me well at all, you know how important by music collection is.  I still have four cases of vinyl sequestered in boxes in the closet across the hall.  Can’t get rid of ‘em. 

 Now, however, with all of my music available on a mobile device, one of the prime selling features I was looking for in a new car was very friendly iPhone compatibility.  I needed a moonroof, too.  Never had one except in Cindy’s old Accord, and oh, what fun that was.  I narrowed my focus to the Ford Escape (since mine had treated me pretty well), the Nissan Rogue, the Honda CR-V, and the Subaru Outback. 

I liked the Rogue because my niece’s husband works for Nissan in Tennessee.  I liked the CR-V because it ranked well with Consumer Reports and like Cindy’s Cruze, is assembled here in Ohio.  But I was most interested in the Subaru.  Years ago when my buddy Mark and I took kids to see the American West from a geological and humanities perspective, we joked about how Subaru must be the state car of Colorado.  It seemed every other car on the road was a Suby.  And loving visiting Colorado as I do, Subaru had risen to the top of my buying hierarchy. 

So upon that first test drive at Wagner Subaru in Fairborn, a company I preferred dealing with due to it’s commitment to public radio & tv & the local park district, I was hooked.  If they didn’t have a car on the lot that suited me, I am confident I could have walked away.  But there on the lot was just what I was looking for — radio and moonroof and all — in a Venetian red Subaru Outback.  A very nice sales guy took care of me and I drove it home that afternoon.


Just last Sunday I got back home from my first solo trip in the Suby:  all the way to Hog Island in Maine; then a week in Amherst, Mass., Emily Dickinson’s hometown; followed up by attending an important memorial service in New York.  Over 2.5k round trip.  Along the way everything worked as specified.  The radio was great, able to play anything on the phone still in my pocket, along with offering a zillion channels on SiriusXM satellite radio.  The ride was the smoothest I recall in any car I’ve owned.  All good. 

So I was thinking maybe I ought to give this car a name.  I mean, if we are going to have a long-term relationship, it’s best to make it personal.  I had been thinking of a few names, but nothing was sticking.  Then I got a call from my LA buddy, Will, who asked how I survived the trip with my new 4 wheeled pal ‘Red.’  

Red?  Why, sure!  Perfect name.  Thanks for that, Will.  

Next trek up in Red is with Cindy Lou to Colorado for a couple weeks at the Nada Hermitage in Crestone in late September/early October.  As the Wagner sales guy said, ‘Taking good long trips are the way you are supposed to treat an Outback.’  That’s a damned good thing.  

And so it continues in this latest chapter of my life:  I suppose it will be new adventures with Red ’n me.  
***

For the record:  Car’s I’ve owned:  ’56 Chevy Bellaire, early 60s VW bug (yellow convertible), ’72 Ford Pinto sedan (new), ’72 Chevy Nova (used), late 70s Ford Fairlane wagon, a couple new Nissan kid mobiles, Basil Fett’s old Honda Accord with killer sound system, then my SUVs:  First was a used GMC Jimmy, then the Ford Explorer, then the smaller Ford Escape (all used).  Now, the brand new 2017 Subaru Outback.  

Today’s elder idea:   Love — it’s what makes Subaru a Subaru. 

advertising slogan


imagesabove:  The Chevy shot on my old Kodak Instamatic.  Note the date on the frame.  below:  Red at the Poetry Walk trailhead at Edna St. Vincent Millay’s place, Steepletop, in Austerlitz NY.