Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 60 (Round IV) "In the trenches": Up Yonder edition

Dharmonia and I just returned from a Thanksgiving trip Up Yonder. Got back Saturday night, had one day of "vacation break", and landed hip-dip in the shit on the Monday morning.

That's OK--when you've been doing this for a while (10th year here, for me), you begin to be able to anticipate the biorhythms, the peaks & valleys, the watersheds & crises, of the bi-annual iteration of the semester--and you're thus much less thrown by them. I more or less know to expect that the kiddos will come back from the break having essentially forgotten essentially everything they're "learned" over the previous 14 weeks, and will need to be "re-trained after the coffee break" as we say up here. Fortunately, that re-training takes less time than the initial learning--and even less time if as instructor you know to anticipate it and splash some metaphorical cold water in their faces upon return.

Took a number of pleasant memories away from the high country, but here's one:

Post-hole digger in the high-mesa red clay, thinking of Gary Snyder's "Fence Posts", as I help the General lay in a few of the sixty or so needed for a friend's fence.

At age 50, using the post-hole digger is like wrestling a younger opponent, or your own younger, fitter self, driving the spade-tipped oak handles four feet down the hole and finding the hard-pan at the bottom.

Pausing, resting the wrists unused to the rhythmic jolt of impact, enjoying the silence, the absence of the usual background sub-sonic rumble of freeway traffic that is absent here at 8000 feet, the crystalline blue sky and the atypical lack of wind,

and hearing the slow chuff-chuff as three of the oversized, Taos ravens row across the sky in line-ahead above me, hearing the slow wing-beats as they bank in for a landing,

to stare down at us, cockeyed and cynical, hunch-shouldered and midnight-black.

Greetings, brothers.
Season's turning now.


Tom said...

Hi Chris
I came across your site when doing a search for Deering banjos. I was listening to the "Lou Reed" podcast and I wanted to take issue with you about something you said. You said that in Catholicism, "regret makes redemption possible, through good works". That is not true. Where did you get this view from?
The only way that redemption is possible is through faith in Jesus Christ because of his atoning death on the cross, where he bore the punishment of sin for his people.

laurinskii said...

Hello Dr. Smith! I really appreciated your blog post today. I'm in the above listed category you described (hip-dip in shit) and it was refreshing to read about your time in Taos. It makes me think about what really matters in life.

CJS said...


Says who? On what authority?

Tom said...

The Word of God

CJS said...

Sorry. That is not an authority I recognize.

Tom said...

But the Bible does say (Romans 14:11): "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."