Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sacred Sights 1/31/09

Come with me and let us see what we can see.


Good day interesting one.

I have fallen in love with American names,
The sharp names that never get fat,
The snakeskin-titles of mining-claims,
The plumed war-bonnet of Medicine Hat,
Tucson and Deadwood and Lost Mule Flat.

Steven Vincent Benet

I have always been and wanderer, a wayfaring man, the stranger in town, a vagabond. It all began in 1945 when the family was slowly plunged into poverty. Between then and 1959 we moved 26 times, always because we couldn't afford the rent, until we were finally in a shack with no central heating and sometimes no electricity. I learned to do my homework by the light of a kerosene lamp, my mother learned to cook on a Sterno can (I'll bet you don't know what that is).

So wandering got into my system at an early age. I learned to hold on to the essentials and let the luxuries go. I also learned the among the essentials imagination, fortitude, patience, determination, acceptance and adventure are among the most valuable. A few books have always traveled with me along with my talent, ingenuity, interest in human beings and appreciation of the vision of great artists.

In November of 1960 I hitchhiked from Boston to Los Angeles. Along the way I met all kinds of people and saw some amazing sights. I have often thought of writing about that trip but I suppose I won't. Being almost 50 years ago it has become more of a metaphor for my life than a travelogue. It's also a spotty but far ranging memory of the country I live in. I've touched on certain things about it in this journal, in the past. I guess that's enough.

The one great opportunity of being a vagabond is to discover things. To be alert and open to where I am and what and who are around me makes everyday an adventure, a big one or a small one. A friend of mine and I went for a short hike in the woods one day. There was a brook, some interesting rocks, wildlife. I kept stopping to look at things. My friend got frustrated with me. I finally realized that a hike in the woods to him meant exercise, period.

Another friend and I were sitting on the boardwalk in Brooklyn. The ocean tide was coming in and the waves were smashing and smacking on the beach, I was delighted. He was bored.

My career took me all over the east coast and out to the Midwest. I usually didn't go to the big tourist areas when I had time off. But I enjoyed finding the tiny museums about the lives and works of some almost forgotten personage and signing the book. Those are treasures in my memory. Now in my senior years my wayfaring and explorations are more literary and cerebral, but they are just as interesting.

DB - The Vagabond

May angels drop blessings on your head.


Leigh said...

Aha! I do know what a sterno can is! Does that make me Old? Never mind, I don't really care.
Some people are too busy getting from one moment to the next to do what you like best-being observant. Think of all they miss!
Just for the record, there might be some interesting tales in that "travelogue", I wouldn't write it off just yet!

:) Leigh

a corgi said...

I know what sterno is and we have some here too (as part of an emergency kit)

you have led an interesting life DB, I bet if you put it in book form as a memoir, people would be interested in reading it(I know I would)

26 moves!!! wow!!!! and I know they were hard moves with the circumstances behind them


Linda's World said...

I too know what a sterno can is. In the 1950's my grandmother had a lakeside cabin and that's waht she cooked on at the cabin. I've moved alot during my years too but still have not moved more that 10-12 miles from my childhood home. Right now I live just under 3 miles from the first home my folks bought in 1946 after my dad returned from WWII and then in 1952we moved from there to the 10 acres where I spent the rest of my childhood and I'm now just under 8 miles from that home. Such an exciting life I've had.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Yup, I know what a sterno can is :o)

How wonderful to have been able to hitch across the country. Those carefree days, alas, are behind us. Not to many hitchers these days, and even fewer who will pick them up.

Beth said...

Yep, looks like we all know what Sterno is!

I wonder how many guestbooks are out there with your signature in them?


Arlene (AJ) said...

DB, in reading your blog today,from the time you were a young man to the presant you've never lost the zest for life which in my book mades you one exceptional man. So many people are in such a hurry they don't stop and appreciate the little things that can add so much joy to our hearts. Have a good weekend, dear.

Trees said...

As always I thoroughly enjoy your blog. I too know what a sterno can is. We made a few during our camping days. To sit on a bench and watch the waves rolling in and seeing the magic in the spray washing over the rocks to me is one of life's greatest gifts along with walking through the woods amongst nature and seeing babbling brooks, I too love doing that still till this day. I would so very much love for you to write your travelogue, I definitely would read it. You have had an interesting life, to me a vagabond is so very rich in spirit as you have seen so many things, all too many think of as mundane and boring and they miss the very essence of life itself, the simple things. You have enjoyed all of these, God bless.