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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


     hillbilly sculpture by tj worthington

A very wet cloud sits on the mountain today. Earlier, when I stepped outside without putting on a jacket or sweater to walk to the mailbox, I stepped into the outdoor air anticipating getting top of head and shoulders dampened by slight sprinkles. Didn't get wet at all. The air is so damp it's just short of manifesting liquid form. I heard soft rumblings of thunder around noon. Second thunder in February. The first one was the 22nd. The country wisdom says the date of a thunder in February is the date in May of the last frost. Maybe the second one means a frost will come on the 29th, but not a damaging frost. I mark on the calendar in May to check it out. It used to be said the wooly worm predicts the winter by its color sections. One that is orange in front and back, with the black in the middle, translates into a hard winter in the middle and mild before and after.

If there were ever a time woolly worms were exactly alike, I've not been there to see it. I've paid attention to them since 1976 when I arrived in the mountains and Tom Pruitt told me his understanding of the woolly worm legend. He didn't believe there was anything to it, for the same reasons I've come to. Next question: what does it mean when no two woolly worms you see are alike? Over about the last 10 or more years I've seen more all-black woolly worms than ever before. The black ones I've seen come with the milder winters. Like snowflakes, it appears no two woolly worms are alike. I'm willing to suppose that in the olden days the woolly worms might have all been alike. Maybe the weather was more consistent in those times. If the nature of the winter does show up in the woolly worm, the only relationship I've seen is more black ones, more predominantly black as our winters are less cold every year. The old sayings about the weather don't apply anymore.

Fogs in August used to predict the snows of the winter. Think of the month of August as a 6-month winter. Each week in August would correspond to two months in the winter. If fog occurs on the 6th of August, snow could be expected around the 1st of December. If the 22nd, snow might happen on or around the beginning of March. I paid attention to fogs in August the first several years, and found them an accurate forecasting method. Gradually, we quit having fogs in August and we get little to no snow in the winter. Every winter is uniquely itself. It's difficult to hold the winters to a pattern. Looking at a span of 35 years, a general pattern does emerge, in waves, (close your eyes if you're a republican) global warming. Scientists say, scientists say. Real scientists, not the ones on corporate payroll, say global warming is obvious fact, not something to have an opinion about. It's absurd to be mentioning it. We've known it was global warming for the last 40+ years, but it's politically incorrect to admit to it. The problem I have with political correctness is you can't have a feeling or thought of your own without checking to see if it's ok. Kinda like in North Korea and China.

Just now got an image of recollection. A woman I knew in the late 1980s, not well, but well acquainted. We were friendly. A few months ago she came into the coffee shop while I was there. We sat down together to talk. The talk amounted to her talking without drawing a breath, sentences starting you needta, you gotta, you oughta, you better, you should. Sounded like a gospel song to me---you better, you better, you better, or else. I was looking at her, someone I'd not seen in a quarter century, trying to imagine how she could divine all that I, of all people, needta-gotta-oughta-better-should do or have. The nature of the list she was spelling out for me, I didn't have the heart to tell her, had nothing to do with me. Running out of needta's and gotta's, she started a sentence, You're supposed to....

I broke into her monologue and said, "I don't do s'posed-to." She jumped from her seat like a firecracker went off in it, hugging her laptop, and speed-walked out the door in a bee-line. She wasn't suffering from colony collapse disorder, either. She went straight through the door with conviction that it was not a plate glass window. I don't like to laugh at people I like, and I do like her quite a lot. But when what you have to say starts with you needta, you needta be talking to somebody else. That's not conversation, it's giving orders. Sorry, baby, I'm not a waiter. I dismissed it as unconscious white middle-class American chatter, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Another theater of the absurd in everyday life moment.

Sometimes, not very often, somebody makes me wonder if they're out of their league in a human form. Maybe they're not ready to make it without a tail. Maybe they missed a chimpanzee lifetime in a hurry to get to human. For what? Meth addiction? Just as well go back to swinging in the trees some more and try the leap to human form again after you've learned something. Maybe meth addiction is a way of learning something. Surely major cities have young evangelists that testify to Jesus helping them get off the track to self destruction. Alcoholism and drug addictions have served a large number people spiritually in the long run. A way is a way. It seems like churches would want to put rehab places in every city, conducted with the authenticity and working reality of AA. Every junkie is at his or her own bottom. The only way from there is up. Free rehab centers operated with integrity of purpose would go a long way toward bringing urban crime way down. Like everybody blazes their own trail up the mountain. This is where the Master comes in handy. He knows the way of each one's own particular path. Without the Master's help, it's like being in a sailboat at sea in a fog, or in a maze that goes this way and that without clues. We've had a serious hard drug problem in USA for almost half a century, and still, rehab as a possibility is so rare it's next to nothing toward addressing the problem.


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