Holloways: Well-Worn Paths

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Sunken lane in Normandy France (photo by Jean-Francois Gornet)

If you’re lucky enough to have storytellers in your family you may have experienced what I’m naming Soul Holloways. Holloways are sunken, endlessly trod-upon paths. Their histories are sometimes buried deep, but the roots are exposed in places. Some holloways date back to Roman times and some to Native American trails.

Soul Holloways are those fleeting times when you remember what you don’t remember. The past opens through an old picture of a great-grandfather with mischievous eyes and the trace of a smile under his mustache. This great grandfather was the son of the son of Charles Foster who was hung from a tree when he was 6 and whipped all day for being late. He came to Christ at age 21. His father was a drunk but strong and cut the first roads through New England.

Some holloways are overgrown by the trees that border them

SteveTallomy.com

The women of the Foster Holloway Clan were spirited but given the burden of walking with drunks or very strict and straight-laced men–the tension between insanity and stability always being great.

Holloways are mysterious and beautiful but have been used in times of war to trap men in their depths or hide them from enemies–making them sometimes famous and sometimes infamous.

It’s  easy to get trapped or saved in a Soul Holloway–exposed roots tell you where you came from, but you must not get mired in them for the holloways can be muddy in spring. Walking your Soul Holloway makes you feel you can touch every kindred spirit since even before they landed in the New World in 1630. You say, “Yes, I know that about myself now. It’s how it has always been in my family.”

holloways

Jackiemorris.co.uk.blog

Once, in the forest we found an old paved road. Within ten years of no one caring for it the forest had reclaimed much of it. We may try to cover or pave over our holloways, but holloways are more like beautiful scars than roads that cover earthy smells and allow us to rush by in fast cars.

Soul Holloways are beautiful scars, too. They ask us to linger a while.

I write about family scars all the time. Maybe you’d recognize a familiar Soul Holloway in one of my novels! BUY ONE TODAY. 🙂

 

Misanthropy and Why I’m Done with It

madame-frederic-reiset-born-augustine-modest-hortense-reiset-and-her-daughter-theres-hortense.jpg!xlMedium

Have any of you suffered through a three week flu? It’s awful, isn’t it? But there is a bright side. Everything I do is in slow motion so I’ve actually spent more time with my humans and animals–especially my animals who love sick naps.

Today I was amused to find that growing lettuce, eggplant or cucumbers is more damaging to the environment than raising pigs or cows. Getting  veggies to market and onto our plates consumes a tremendous amount of energy, it turns out (according to scientists) and I’m not surprised having worked on a few organic farms, but I know where this always leads.

charles-hayard-and-his-daughter-marguerite.jpg!xlMediumI was once a misanthrope. How could I not be? I went to public school and watched PBS. It didn’t take a genius to see that as a white  girl I was personally responsible for pollution, slavery, genocide and the deaths of baby harp seals. I stopped eating meat as many a white girl has done to distance herself from all evil. The moral high ground of starving oneself is a great thing for one’s self esteem until your body gives out and you realize you really don’t want to die. It is then that I realized that my idealized love for animals actually made me wish for the deaths of other humans. Humans I didn’t know. Humans out there who polluted.

Have you heard of the Georgia Guidestones? They are stones in the middle of nowhere calling for a mass reduction in humans. Scary.

edmond-ramel-and-his-wife-born-irma-donbernard.jpg!xlMediumI re-grouped after the doctors forced me to eat hamburgers and researched my family tree looking for Indian killers and corporate evil-doers. All I found were men and women who wanted to be free. They intermarried with Indians, fought against tyranny, worked for oppressive bosses at age six and died in the fight against slavery.

Outside the classroom of my youth and when I was hospitalized for a serious condition that wouldn’t have materialized if I hadn’t hated humanity and loved fuzzy animals, I was amazed to discover that all around me were humans with the capacity for good. Of course I always knew my family members were basically good (though misguided for eating meat), but there were others! In the world beyond! Doctors and nurses, scientists and hunters. Activists and skeptics.

madame-jean-auguste-dominique-ingres-born-madeleine-chapelle-ii.jpg!xlMediumFor a while I watched nature films. You know the ones showing a crocodile killing unsuspecting little Bambi. The I got a small farm. I’ve watched ducks brutally kill other ducks for no apparent reason. I’ve seen the aftermath of a fox killing frenzy. I’m pretty sure the fox didn’t pray over his prey.

So eating lettuce is now bad for the environment. Huh. Maybe we don’t get to live in Utopia. Yet as I sit at my laptop reading about misanthropes and cucumbers, I smile. I love western civilization even with its faults. I love its art, its music, its cinema. I like insulation in winter and an air-conditioned hospital room when I’ve eaten nothing but lettuce for weeks. I like napping with dogs (it’s what dogs do best), but I LOVE writing novels and reading blog posts and obsessing over Christmas gifts for people–yes those crazy characters who occasionally tell really good jokes (my dogs can’t do that).

I love loving people no one loves. So I can’t be a misanthrope.

FAMOUS MISANTHROPES

** DRAWINGS by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

When I Die I Want to See the Passenger Pigeons

Martha, we miss you.

Martha, we miss you

I wonder if it’s wise to tell children they’re murderers. Are important lessons learned when teachers (almost like gods) insinuate that parents and grandparents killed the passenger pigeon?

When I was seven I discovered the menace I was to the world–not just me, but my parents, my uncles and even my recently deceased grandparents. I learned this at school and never wanted to go back. Until then I watched in rapt pleasure as the house sparrows (invaders from Europe) flitted and chirped around the huge oak tree in the school yard. Before my ecological innocence was shattered I saw the canopied school yard as full of natural delights. At recess we gathered acorns like the squirrels and back inside we pressed autumn leaves under paper and colored the imprints with our crayons.

We will meet again, dear friends.

We will meet again, dear friends.

At one time not long ago Martha Pigeon and her billions of friends roamed the entire breadth of a continent. The enormity of the flocks dazzled humanity into believing the pigeon would never disappear. It is said that as the birds invaded a region even the air smelled of their odor. Tree limbs broke under the weight of the nesting birds sometimes 100 to a tree. Wild pigs fed off the fallen eggs and squab. The noise was terrific.

“From half-past one to four o’clock in the afternoon, while he was traveling to Frankfort, the same living torrent rolled overhead, seemingly as extensive as ever. He estimated the flock that passed him to be two hundred and forty miles long and a mile wide — probably much wider — and to contain two billion two hundred and thirty million, two hundred and seventy-two thousand pigeons. On the supposition that each bird consumed only half a pint of nuts and acorns daily, he reckoned that this column of birds would eat seventeen million, four hundred and twenty-four thousand bushels each day.” http://www.wildbirds.org/apidesay.htm

passWith no real market for the birds, Indian tribes killed and dried what they needed, using baby pigeon oil as a sort of butter. It’s hard to imagine rats, for instance, disappearing– and would most people care if they did? The markets came and everyone got in on the action. People ate pigeons. Hunters stuffed barrels full of the birds that would live forever and sent them to the cities. Our great-grandparents ate them as the great flocks diminished.

Congress acted, but too late. Martha was the last passenger pigeon and sterile.

Did I need to know this in grade school? Would I be able to understand why God let it happen? Would I turn from God and people only to turn back as an adult with jaundiced eyes and hate?

In fifth grade I wore a big pin on my coat after watching a horrifying segment on Good Morning America (while eating Captain Crunch cereal). “SAVE the BABY SEALS” it said and every morning when I shoved my arms through the sleeves a wave of self-loathing and despair came over me as I looked into the eyes of the baby seal on the pin.

This generation’s  wide-eyed innocence is stolen by the “Save the Polar Bear” campaigns. Imagine sitting in class with your just-sharpened crayons coloring a picture of a cute polar cub floating to sea on the last ice in existence. Imagine a child who only just learned to sharpen the damned crayons having to take responsibility for extinction.

We can debate the nature of God and the nature of man. We can admit that animals disappear–sometimes for reasons beyond the scope of man’s foolishness and greed, but must we throw it on children?

There are many well-meaning and decent school teachers but the system is (as all systems are) corrupt. It is an abuse of power to drug active boys and destroy the hope of sensitive little girls.

Scientists are working diligently to bring back the passenger pigeon. Maybe great flocks with roost and make messes on your apartment building. Maybe they’ll bring back the mammoth as well, but what about the innocence of children?

Let them run at recess and collect acorns. Let them discover what is beautiful first and then they may fight for it later.

pigeon-3-Martha

Last of the Mohicans

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Is private property a good thing? I happen to think it is. Have you ever noticed how public beaches are always disgusting? No one takes pride of ownership. I’ve heard people say after throwing some trash around, “that’s why we pay taxes.”

Since at least Biblical times there’s been a tension in history between communitarian-ism and private ownership. People have written songs and novels about this tension. People have gotten into university debates and great wars over this tension.

NC Wyeth

NC Wyeth

We bemoan the loss of Indian hunting grounds even as we sit in our comfortable highrises or suburban ranches. We feel vaguely guilty because that’s what we’re told to do. Yet a study of the Iroquois nation quickly reveals that their dominance of a vast territory of the US and Canada came at the expense of other weaker tribes. They didn’t just sit around being peaceful. They were into conquest. It didn’t matter if some tribes were all about sharing.

We can say it’s primitive not to share, but the tragic thing about history is that, search as we may for a progressive walk towards enlightenment, it’s always just out of reach. I’m not celebrating “might makes right,” just pointing out that despite lofty ideals everywhere in the world the human tendency is towards this behavior. No matter the style of government or organization or friendship, might often makes right.

I lived with American communists for a while. They worked their “interns” (indentured servants) like dogs for the good of the community and the ecology. They had the land and the power to make our lives miserable. They made sure they had a voice on the local radio station and in the town council. They preached peace and love, but might makes right pushed their interns and neighbors.

hnhnhnOnce we see  this tendency to push each other around we then can see that it’s not them over there or us over here. We can stop expecting our governments to present us with good new schemes to cover our moral failures. The reason why private property is important is because without it we’re at the whim of people who could care less about us and use their might to do whatever they want. Private property gives us a stake in the game. (This doesn’t for a second mean there are perfect systems on Earth)

We can be charitable or not based on the knowledge that what Jesus said about the poor always being with us is true and no amount of second-rate political thought is going to change that. Some people are always going to be stronger, smarter and more evil than others no matter how well we institute Common Core or apologize for winning wars.

Private property means I get to keep my mind as well as my responsibility. With that I must answer to a higher power.