In a letter to his brother:
You write about your walk to Ville-d’Avray that Sunday, at the same time on that same day I was also walking alone, and I want to tell you something about that walk, since then our thoughts probably crossed again in some degree.
You know the landscape there, superb trees full of majesty and serenity beside green, dreadful, toy-box summer-houses, and every absurdity the lumbering imagination of Hollanders with private incomes can come up with in the way of flower-beds, arbours, verandas. Most of the houses very ugly, but some old and elegant. Well, at that moment, high above the meadows as endless as the desert, came one driven mass of cloud after the other, and the wind first struck the row of country houses with their trees on the opposite side of the waterway, where the black cinder road runs. Those trees, they were superb, there was a drama in each figure I’m tempted to say, but I mean in each tree.
Then, the whole was almost finer than those windblown trees seen on their own, because the moment was such that even those absurd summer houses took on a singular character, rain-soaked and disheveled. In it I saw an image of how even a person of absurd forms and conventions, or another full of eccentricity and caprice, can become a dramatic figure of special character if he’s gripped by true sorrow, moved by a calamity. It made me think for a moment of society today, how as it founders it now often appears like a large, sombre silhouette viewed against the light of reform.
Yes, for me the drama of a storm in nature, the drama of sorrow in life, is the best… Oh, there must be a little bit of air, a little bit of happiness, but chiefly to let the form be felt, to make the lines of the silhouette speak. But let the whole be sombre.
Vincent Van Gogh
I much prefer ninety degrees Fahrenheit to ten. Or twenty. Or thirty. Or even forty. And snow. Well, snow is the X-factor. As a kid, snow served the useful purpose of closing schools. As an adult—it shuts down any activity a decent, suntanned person over the age of thirty-five enjoys. I don’t do snow forts, snowballs, snow angels, snowmen, snowmobiles, or snowshoes. I don’t like to walk in it, drive in it, ski on it, or sled on it. Other than that, snow is just ducky.
And then, I got off the plane in St. Louis.
Today, snow was not on my mind. Today required gloves, not the kind for snowball fights. The kind used to avoid blisters when you touch the steering wheel. A day so hot you couldn’t wear shorts because you’d fry the back of your thighs climbing into your car. But I hadn’t worn shorts on the plane, so I was sweaty hot, not scalding hot in the rental.
The weather, especially when you are not accustomed to it, chains you with oppression. An unjust smothering, sticky weight between teasing, gasping breezes. Sweltering, entrenched among the horizon-leaning rows of Midwest farm corn. Today, I am dripping and tugging at my tee, yearning for stiff wind and a baby-bathwater warm rain. It is hot, hot, hot. The kind of hot that when night falls, brown recluse spiders just weakly nod and tell you to poison yourself.
And then there are bugs. Gnats? Fleas? Corn chiggers? I’m not up on my entomology. I do know they stick to sweat like gravel dust to a damp windshield. Mosquitoes—and they raise ‘em big here—are my real nemesis. We maintain a rocky, turbulent, yet intimate relationship. If they aren’t trying to kill me, I am trying to kill them.
I have since learned to identify wasps, hornets, and other nasty flying kamikaze critters. If mosquitoes are infantry, hornets and wasps are where the insect military really invests. Those little bastards are unmistakable and maintain a take-no-prisoners approach to farm and field warfare. Kill or be killed. I often wonder if the survivors sit around in little wasp bars, chugging wasp beers, and talking about that time they nearly got knocked out of the sky by a broom.
Excerpt from Sublimity’s Treasure available in paperback or eBook.
A collection of thoughts, observations, and book excerpts. Every now and again I have a guest blogger chime in as well. Enjoy!