Still Rocking at 80 Plus

Rocking chair on a deck in Whitefish, Montana.

Detail of a mend.

This chair is special. The woman who enjoys it’s support has asked that it go to a museum when she no longer has use for it. She’s the other side of 80 and still going strong so it will be awhile before the rocker leaves it’s place on her deck.

Special because she simply likes sitting in it? Special because it is old? Special because it was given to her mother back in the early 1900’s? Special because of it’s connection with the history of the West? All of those reasons, and more probably. See how rickety the chair has become and needing splints and screws and other fixes to keep it’s integrity?

When the ’49ers were coming out West on the Oregon Trail, and those who came after them, they would sometimes have to abandon the furniture along the way. Lighten the load perhaps or perhaps they just had to continue on foot with what they could carry. So people gleaned the abandoned and broken furniture and made, furniture. That’s the history of this rocker.

This afternoon, flying high over the Oregon Trail on my way south to the Bay Area, I paused for a moment to remember those who settled the west, the hardship and their endurance. And I also took a moment to remember with fondness the woman and her daughter on whose deck the chair rests. The chair gathered up from Oregon Trail. See! This is an old table leg.

I don’t want to go on about the good-old bad-old days, to cover them with a nostalgic glow. Those times were tough and life was probably gruesome in the extreme, and people did lots they had to do. There are people alive now who have made a huge contribution, as they did, who have given their lives in the service of others. They have know real hardship, and joy, and once again I honour them. Like the chair they may be getting a bit fragile but it does not seem to stop them rocking!

But that we can emulate the oldies pluck.

Engaged Action

Mother and daughter combo readying for a training ride.

This summer, five cyclists with a shared commitment to creating a sustainable future and extensive wilderness will bike from the southern border of the Yukon Territory in Canada 2,000 miles to Yellowstone National Park in the United States to raise awareness of the Yellowstone to Yukon project (Y2Y).
Quoted from Ride for the Wild – Bearing Witness

I’m drawing attention to this long distance bicycle ride for a number of reasons. Perhaps the main one is I know several of the riders, including the two pictured here, and many of them are practicing Buddhists within our Order. The cyclist’s route takes them through some of the most beautiful country on the planet. My correspondent would know this personally since she grew up in northern Canada where the group start out from in mid August.

While the young woman, the daughter, was here in Whitefish over the week-end we talked about the ride; about safety issues, the reasons for participating, the practicalities and the inevitable vulnerabilities. Six weeks on the road will be a test for all the participants. Several people, including the mum seen above, will join the group at various stages of the trip. I wish them well and will follow their progress.

As far as I am concerned, in terms Buddhist practice, there is just the doing that which is good and following through in a reflective and intelligent fashion. This small band have a mission and a project which they consider good to do. Go for it! Engage fully, and take every safety precaution you can.

Cat and Moose

Simon with moose in June, Montana.

Simon is the happiest cat I’ve ever encountered, and he just loves to be included in photographs. So much so that it’s practically impossible to take a photograph without him being in it! His caretaker was carefully focusing on the moose in the garden, not a common sight, when Simon insinuated himself and became the main subject.

My time is coming to an end here in Montana. It has been a joy to walk out in the early morning as the sun rises over the mountains, and to meet many old friends too.

Many thanks to Scott for the photograph.

Hard of Hearing

Out in the Chevy pick-up,
hot day, heating stuck at ON.
Visit Ann, eighty six,
watch the Angles and the Red Socks.
Clean the toilet,
and shout a lot.

Stop on 2nd
heave couch into pick-up.
Rattle back
still hot.
Bought at yard sale Saturday
bound for out-of-town daughter.
We talked about death
mostly shouted.

Do it Now!
When you’ve got a job to do
Do it now!
If it’s one you wish was through
Do it now!
If you’re sure the job’s your own
Just tackle it alone.
Don’t hem and haw and groan,
Do it now!

Ann likes ‘sayings’. She found this one in a catalog.

Smell The Information

I picked up this book at a yard sale yesterday. Found, hand written, on the inside page,
This is a good book. Read and be wise.

In 1951 the Montreal Star, the most powerful English language paper in Canada, launched its Weekend Magazine supplement The Herald and Weekly Star, with an initial circulation of 900,000. Another hand written note states, Bought Blue suit $40.00 for Easter 1953 at (maybe) Hess Store. and Bought aluminum chairs from club, May 14-53. So this book more than likely is a compilation of information gleaned from the first two years of the magazine’s life. It’s described as An Encyclopedia of Useful Information. There are recipes and instruction for; Making a Bearskin Mat, Bicycle Enamel, Carbolic Soap, To Purify Rancid Lard and my favorite, Sticking Labels on Tin which calls for isinglass dissolved in acetic acid.

I’ll remember the sad woman who sold me the book. And I’ll also remember the book’s yellowing crumbling held-together-with-masking-tape pages. Rich human history one can embrace, and smell.

A train is hooting and howling as it passes below the garden on it’s way to Chicago. I see there is an entry First Railways in America. That was a line from Boston to Quincy, Mass., opened on April 17, 1827, And on the next page:

Origin of “Canada”. The word Canada is derived from the Huron-Iroquois Indian word “Kannata,” meaning a collection of huts! (my exclamation point).

Who would have thought that the dissemination of information would travel so far so fast. From down home books like the one described, to the Internet today.

But is it going anywhere?