Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time to Start Blogging Again

This is a post about posting, about intent more than content. 

When I began this blog almost three years ago it followed on the heels of the death of Bus Companion, and much of it was written in the months that followed. Living in the bus was an experience I had enjoyed and wanted to share. 

The last year-and-a-half has seen very little travel. I tried my hand at living a more stationary life in a house back east for a while but was drawn back to the bus. I returned last fall to the Southwest.   

Yet I almost stopped traveling. I rooted myself this past winter in an RV park in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Except for living in a bus my life became more and more every day like that of other lives around me -- house dwellers and RVers alike. There  was little reason then to write about so mundane an existence. Life in a Volkswagen Bus  wasn't much different than any other life, it seemed

That is changing and will I think continue to change. The world is changing. The U.S. is changing. And if my travels on rolling Michelins are fewer, the travels of my mind are greater.

It seems we are headed if not into a great abyss at least toward a critical change point in history. 

Mankind in the last one hundred years has created a great and complex system that houses, feeds and clothes 7 billion+ people. Only a small fraction of that population today can sustain itself outside of the system.

If and when it falters as it surely must -- for no system built on growth on a planet with finite resources can indefinitely sustain itself -- all chaos will ensue. Some must be prepared and ready for what will follow.

I came across a writer a few days ago puzzled by the failure of so many to think critically about the complex issues facing us. Why, he ponders, at a time when critical thinking is most needed do we barricade ourselves behind closed minds? 

He calls such obstinate non-think  Arrogant Ignorance -- holding to beliefs and opinions without questioning them and reinforcing our ignorance by repeating the arguments that support our views. 

One of the reasons for arrogant ignorance, he suggests, is our comfort. We defend where we stand when we have achieved a place in the system. We stop thinking. We become like horses wearing blinders so as not to be spooked by what is going on around us.

There is a price to pay for such near-sightedness. The unexamined life, as Socrates observed, is not worth living. It is not fulfilling. The dreams of youth are locked away, and we live soon forgotten lives.

We seek comfort. We seek security -- from want, fear, sickness, loneliness and death. Real life offers no security. Only joy.

Seeking such security makes cowards of  all.

Life is and should be its own reward. But one has to wake to enjoy it. And that's where the examined life comes in, waking to the  power and beauty, before we fall into our final sleep.

These blog pages will now be renewed with stories along life's mental as well as as concrete highway. The bus is where I wake up mornings to see the sun rising over Turtleback mountain, to the cooing of hundreds of doves -- palomas -- to the flowing of the Rio Grande, to strange characters, men and women, who come and go in my life carrying their thoughts and dreams and puzzling in wonder.

The examined life only gets richer day by day by day.

Welcome to Part 2:  Life Beyond the Volkswagen Bus

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bosque del Apache

I went to Bosque del Apache yesterday, the 57,000-acre wildlife bird sanctuary near Socorro, NM, to watch the migratory birds roosting there lift off from the water at sunrise to feed.  They are there in large numbers from November to December. More than 40,000 birds including as many as 17,000 sandhill cranes, ducks, geese and more stop here in the flood planes of the Rio Grande in autumn to rest and feed on their southward migration. They come from as far as Alaska and travel as far south as Mexico. On a frosty November morning with the sun taking its veiled time to rise from behind mountains and clouds they are a sight to behold. More later.  For now, photos.  (Click to enlarge.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunscapes, Sanity, and Migratory Birds

I've been lazy lately. The sunsets have been magnificent.  Here are a few scenes at a truck stop, as I entered New Mexico last month. (click to expand.)

Ah, but not just on the highways that the sun plays its tricks with the sky.

In Truth or Consequences it rises over Turtleback Mountain, lighting the morning, and painting the dawn clouds platinum white and charcoal gray.

By evening, the sky is red again, as the westering sun ducks behind the Gila Mountains, painting the sky a fiery orange.

And paints the turtle on Turtleback Mountain gold.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * 
It is good to be home. Much has been happening in TorC. hTremayne, almost my next door neighbor, published a book in June — The Good Life Lab, about her and her husband's decision to leave the high-powered, high moneyed life of Manhattan and find a saner and more satisfying way to life.

They found it here. The book details what and how they worked to learn new skills and make —  not buy — a life of plenty.  And the philosophies they developed as they lived their dream.

"I discovered there are two kinds of poverty," said, during a book signing at the Black Cat Bookstore and Cafe here in Truth or Consequences. "There is the poverty of really not having enough, and the poverty of thinking you don't have enough."
Wendy gets a hug during a book signing.

There is, says Wendy, organic living in which we are one with our instincts that tell us what this world, the natural world, is all about.  And there is the artificial world that civilization has created out of the natural world.  Wendy believes we are not never really at home in that world and never can be.

Meanwhile, I've settled in to do some  writing here.  I've added a small addition to my bus to make things cozy yet  more spacious.

A canopy awning and front panel — a marvel of modern engineering.

It is getting cold at night, but my bed is warm, and my ancient German Eberspacher gasoline heater still works to warm things up in the morning.  When the sun comes out it is marvelous.

There are many friends in this unique little town of poets, writers, painters, musicians and hippies; where you can soak in 108 degree artesian water, and at night watch Orion climb straight overhead into a jet black, star-spangled autumn New Mexico sky.

And much to do. On Thursday I am off to Bosque del Apache at dawn to watch the migratory birds  — ducks and geese and cranes — already there. When these birds lift off in to he morning sun, I am told, it is a sight to behold.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tumbleweeds, Sunsets

It was a peaceful and an uneventful 350-mile trip yesterday, south from Topeka to Oklahoma City, where I picked up I-40 and headed west, stopping at the Cherokee KOA Kamp Grounds last night, about 50 miles west of the state capital that rises above the plains. Evening came and so did rain.

Driving through the open, rolling Kansas countryside I saw tumbleweeds — ghost-like balls of fluff — rolling across open corn fields and darting across the interstate.
Photo taken from the southern ridge of Monticello Canyon
 looking toward Mount Caballo and Turtleback Mountain.

The Oklahoma rains continued overnight and made for good sleeping.

I am about 600 miles  from Truth or Consequences—two easy days.

Birds are singing in the soft morning. It is pleasant to take things easy.

This is not my photograph but one published in the local Truth or Consequences Herald newspaper. It is worth sharing.

Somehow the skies are taller, clouds catch play in the light in ways unimaginable elsewhere, as if God has a unique pallet on display in the southwest heavens.

Special thanks and welcome to MonaLisa Acuna, the latest member to join this blog!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On The Road Again

Topeka Kansas — After a year back east in North Carolina I am on the road again. The days are sunny and warm, the nights cool. It is heartland America. On Sunday There was a fall pumpkin festival here with hay rides, a corn stalk maze, food, and pumpkins and squash for sale. Dark clouds loomed but it did not rain.

I've been visiting a friend. The bus ran well after some exhaust repairs in Gettysburg where I visited family. Now with colder weather only weeks away or maybe closer it is time to head southward. Next stop, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

I've picked up a few friends along the way. One was a butterfly that visited every day and explored my living quarters and often would perch on my hand.

Plus many more two-legged friends.

Leaving my brother and sister behind in Pennsylvania was the hardest sacrifice. I have a feeling that it will be long before I see them again. Leaving my friend Patricia and her son Richard in North Carolina was another loss. Yet that is the way of the world — there are constant losses and constant gains. All under a constant sky. And on a open road.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wake Up Or You Will Miss the Revolution !!

Millions — perhaps the largest political demonstration in the history of mankind — are gathering in Egypt. Size matters !  As in Brazil, once a political uprising gains critical mass it becomes too large to stop, even with police, tear gas, tanks and water canons, it cannot be put down.

Millions gather in Egypt
We have never seen this before!  And we have no idea where it is going !  But it can — and probably will — spread like wild fires.

The world is a beautiful and marvelous place too long controlled by tyrants, kings, governments, businesses that do not represent the true beauty and potential of humankind.  We do not know what is coming next.  Some will be fearful.  Yet this kind of movement like burgeoning grass cannot be stopped.

We are living in genuinely exciting times with genuinely unprecedented opportunities for this planet and its inhabitants.

We didn't — and never did — need the systems that controlled and separated us one from the other. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Garden In June

Now that it's June, the garden plot that in April that was a desolate patch brown dirt and red clay is now a teeming sea of green!

Potatoes in sunshine
Potato plants three feet tall, tomato plants taller still, and laden with fruit, thrive. There are beans and peppers. Squash and asparagus. It is all very rewarding.

But the reward comes only partially comes from the success of growing things.

Perhaps a deeper reward derives from a mystical sense of being one with the garden.

Jerry Garcia remarked after  concert that it was not the band that played the music but the music  that played the band.

And so I think it is  with gardening. The garden works its own magic. I know almost nothing about gardening but somehow when I am working in it it is the garden that tells me what to do. For a few hours I am at one not only with the plants and soil but with the universe.


Potatoes fresh from the earth
I dug up a few potatoes yesterday. It's early, and the plants still have a way to go, but the results are promising. To the right, my harvest from two plants.

We've been lucky. There has been abundant rain and enough sunshine to make things happen. Still it seems a miracle. The magic of nature bestowing gifts,

We fool ourselves if we think we play any  more than a handyman's roll. Water from the sky falls to the earth, goes into the ground, and magic happens. Beautiful things that did exist — hundred of pounds of them — are miraculously created while we stand on the sidelines in awe. It is truly amazing. And how beautiful. Tiny tomato seeds become huge plants five feet tall and more weighted with ripening fruit. Again it is not our doing.

Tomatoes on the vine 
Sure, we help things along.

But that's what we are here for. And not just for gardens but to help each other.

What the garden teaches with its dirt and soil and microbes and worms, nutrients and moisture, minerals and compost, weeds and bugs, is interdependence.

For a while, working and weeding, digging and planting, I am not the gardener. I become the garden.