Where did I put that thing? It has to be in here somewhere. I’ve never brought it back into the house. Maybe I threw it behind the seat? Or maybe the kids were playing with it, even though I’ve asked them to stop. Perhaps I stashed it in the console, along with the sunglasses, the pens, the motion sickness tabs, and this notebook. Or maybe it’s hanging on the rearview mirror, hidden in plain sight, like a rabbit’s foot, a pair of dice, or an air freshener that wore out many moons ago.
Things that are crumpled: bedspread, sauteed greens, the economy, mask on the ground, the hours of last night in my memory, recyclables once tipped into the collection truck, an old friendship, the silence, a grounded butterfly’s wing, used latex-free gloves, plastic bag in my pocket that once held oatmeal raisin cookies, my stash of reusable cloth bags now outlawed from use at the grocery, deleted email, used coffee filters, my previous laptop after an unfortunate run-in with the suddenly vital videoconferencing app known as Zoom, various articles of clothing that are now just laundry...
The full essay is here
Left Tucumcari, New Mexico at 8:40. The woman at the Best Western when I checked out says, "You look like you could use more sleep." Oh, thanks! What a nice thing for you to say. Yeah, I could have used some more sleep. But other guests stirring early, doors clanging, and then someone freaking out when a cat jumped out of the hallway trash can meant it was time for me to get out of bed. That and needing to drive another eight hours today.
I'm on U.S. Highway 54 headed east. This highway takes me all the way to Wichita. Land is mostly flat. Ranch land. Cattle grazing. Mesas in the distance, to the west. Lots of Aermotors. I've realized that's a trademarked name for the old-style windmills.
Lots of empty buildings here. There were lots of them in Tucumcari, too. That town is hollowed out. Abandoned homes. I suppose Tucumcari had its day. Post World War II. Car culture. Route 66. Before passenger air travel proliferated...
The second and final part of the travelogue continues here...
In eastern Butler County the fields opened up, took on the wispy gold of uncut hay. Not long after that hills appeared. I could see the outcome of geological events, the hint of a rock facade where the road cut through. But the grass didn't mind the hills and it ran long and uncut up and down the slopes still. A valley appeared, a vantage, a vista. I thought of some of that scene from Dances With Wolves where they creep up to a crest and look down to see a herd of buffalo grazing in peace.
It would've been a good place to stop but I was going 75 and I was only an hour into the drive. It's a spot to think about, for another. A spot worth reaching over into the glove compartment and pulling out this notebook for, an emergency notebook, never been written in before, the two notebooks I did bring secure in my bag.
I'm east of Wichita, KS on U.S. Highway 54, where Butler County ends and Greenwood County begins. Hay, cow ponds, the cattle so dark against the golden light of the field, dark against the blue of the sky, against the shapely hills.
FDR had some sort of windbreak tree-planting program. A shelterbelt. I never gave much thought to windbreaks, to trees as a line against the wind. This tree I keep seeing, that is so prevalent, must have been one of the trees of choice for the shelterbelt planting. It's often got a lopsided crown and most of the time its trunk splits into two not far from the ground, a couple of feet, maybe less. This tree, whatever it is, is not at Farm. It's a Dust Bowl thing. Kansas, Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, northeastern New Mexico.
Continue with Part One of this travelogue...
I wanted to get through the first section of this notebook on this trip. The pages in this section are edged in blue. I've got a ways to go, sorry to say. I did not do enough describing of areas. I was reluctant to write in the car and thereby pissed a lot of decent words down the drain. I would have said more about how the plains looked once we were on the eastern side of the park, looking out toward the east. It was what I called Custer's view. East of the park, on the fat part of the divide, the land begins the process of flattening out and it's as though you can see for miles and miles and miles. Maybe you can. The colors were a range of maize yellows and sun-bleached wheat whites and dull greens and then of course the blue of the sky—that dumbstruck, blue-lipped blue. The sky was free of clouds as we drove north to Canada on Wednesday but it was accentuated and supported by fairly high altostratus on the way back down. It was mackerel sky in spots, probably my favorite day sky.
There was champagne—well, prosecco—in our room at the Belton yesterday. It sat in a little ice bucket on a tray along with a card of congratulations and two up-ended champagne flutes. B had told them it was our 10-year anniversary trip, which was true. It was the same brand of prosecco as was waiting in the fridge at our cabin (Reclusive Moose), for Patrick and Anne-Marie in recognition of their tenth. This was not coincidence. One of the co-owners of the cabin is the general manager at the Belton. The other co-owner was waiting tables at the restaurant there last night. Small town in a small world, I guess.
Continue reading about this trip to Montana and Canada...
a. A city like Rotterdam bombed, rebuilt The Nazis said submit or we’ll bomb you into the ocean The ‘Dammers submitted but got bombed anyway What’s the point in that? Now, taller buildings Europe’s busiest port A few coffeeshops tucked away. In a café, cream of mushroom soup, the best bread and a little butter in … Continue reading Landscape: Benelux into Germany
My uncle, a climatologist,
suggests that global warming
could cause the melting of the
Northern Passages once impassable
to the likes of Henry Hudson
or John Cabot or his son Sebastian searching
for a route to the spices & silks
of the East Indies at the behest
of royalty, their county’s or not.
Imagine: the northern passage is a convenient
shipping route from, say, Shanghai
to NYC forget the skinny Panama Canal
or slow trains or coffeed truckers.
I fell asleep this
the Senate on C-SPAN2.
When I woke up
was talking about
trains & Illinois
and about how lately
the trains have
been passing on through
without even stopping
Up the grain elevator
one hundred and eighty degrees
(but no proof)
an aspen chopped in two
makes a fence holding
asses in funny-coat blankets.
When the rail rusts, what's left behind?
Full poem here...
Down the track electric: a bottle
cast off to house earthworms;
an impatientist painting
bequeathed in night to the sound
of apple pie vapors wrapped in waxen mem'ry.