MAY 9 2015
Drove the truck over to Larry’s upstate place for a hole by the stream. My son, Mason, is with me. Wife, Blair, is still in L.A. on business. Not enough rain here in upstate New York lately. This is May and we need more wetness. I am concerned. I worry about these things, more and more all the time.
Out in the woods behind our house it feels too quiet. Less birds. Less sounds at night. Where are the peepers? And the bats at dusk? And the coyotes? The new normal? I miss the old normal.
Maybe I’m being too paranoid. Its like I have hypochondria for the land. If it clears its throat or coughs I swear it must have pneumonia. Who do you call when the land is sick? I can’t tell what’s natural anymore. I don’t trust the rhythm of the seasons. Maybe this is just the quiet at the end of a brutal winter and soon spring will explode with life again like it always does. The more time I spend inside these holes the more I feel the earth. But I am still an outsider. An interloper. A rank stranger.
When we arrive at 4 oclock Larry is having a beer after many hours of hard labor…I want a beer too, but I have to dig first. No drinking and digging. Too dangerous.
A potential hole spot below the bridge looks inviting, right next to the water, but a little too dark and rocky. We wander up stream to a bend with a tiny beach. This makes more sense. This is the place.
Mason asks me if he can explore in the stream with his sneakers on and I say of course. He asks for permission sometimes and I wonder how he got that way. Was I too hard on him one time when he forgot to ask? I can’t remember. Some kids seem immune to their parent’s mistakes. I fear he is taking on the dread and anxiety I experience around the state of earth. I try to make sure we laugh a lot too.
This hole comes easy. I am seated and shoveling, a simple motion with instant results, like shucking corn. Damp sand and then water gathering at the bottom. Above my head the sun beams down between bulbous dark clouds. These clouds will break their promise of rain. The evening will stay dry. Promise of rain? A cloud can’t break a promise. Can’t make one either. The sky doesn’t owe us anything. We owe the sky an explanation.
An inch of cool standing water at the bottom of the hole when I get down inside and assume the position fetal. The fatal position. The river is only a couple yards away and the steady sound of water moving over stone fills my ears. The sun and clouds rearrange shadows and light on the ground. My side is wet and the suit is soaking up water. I stay for a while in the hole, listening to the afternoon around me, letting my mind drift away downstream.