After the Gold Rush… Black Friday?

We spent Thanksgiving up in 49er country and it was more than lovely, gathering together as families do from time to time, mingling love, dysfunction, football, excellent food, laughter and poker.

The setting— a town that once boomed with gold strikes, saloons and brothels, a stone’s throw from the Empire Mine and its motherlode, now radiates quaint, small and quiet—a town without a single traffic light.

I walked in the old cemetery on Thanksgiving morning, tombstones softly whispering of Irish lives that came from the old country, clear across the new country to live and die in days roaring with grit and gold.  Crumbling headstones with fading dates, some lay strewn about the shifting, verdant wet-smelling leafy earth, remind of the passing glimmer of flashing days like sunlight quivering through summer leaves that no sooner give way to tumbling red and orange sheaves of oak, birch and maple.

Being a forty-niner myself (as in my age), I’m prone lately to savor the sweetness and ache of a day lived in its fullness—frolicking dogs, kids jocular around their X-Box, the taste of pies, port and coffee—plans for movies, picnics and Christmas.  Later, with day folded into night, rhythms of sleeping dog, boys and wife settle like dust onto old carpets as I tap-tap on a glowing laptop, one eye on the dwindling battery bar, thinking of my fellow-parents, perhaps like me, striving for the sweet, gnashing teeth at the bitter, the family infused tempers, the adolescent rudeness, the melancholy of falling short, the need to be more honest about the darker moments…  I think of all my fellow beings, wondering sometimes why we’re here, what it’s all about, long car-rides and short decades… I think of my father in rehab, of my mother alone in her bed, worried heart beating on toward 80; I think of my ever broadening sense of family, of my own good fortune to have struck spirit gold in my wife’s family who took me in just because she liked me… me now a quasi fixture in a family that keeps taking in new ones, like waves that lap upon our loving twisted shore.

Sometimes we feel utterly alone, but we are not.  Sometimes we are thronged with others but feel alone… but still we are not.  Sometimes we see the sun softly illuminating moss on a granite tombstone, or hear the wind in the fast-baring branches or feel the earth-streaked fingers of a four-year-old encircling our own, his furrowed brow struggling to express a bounty of a heart and soul that currently exceeds the palate and the tongue, and for a flashing moment we stop asking, “Why?”  We let tears come if they want, easy like laughter, no longer bothering to ask, “Why?”  Words sent flying skyward, like so many leaves tossed exuberantly by child-hands… in love and gratitude for all our collective spirits, infinitely spiraling like cut-glass tears, mingling the living and the dead, passing fluidly through the veil of our child-minds, as through the doors of old west saloons, the latching gate of the ancient Catholic cemetery and the chain-link of the old school yard.

Namaste, Bruce

 

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4 Responses to “After the Gold Rush… Black Friday?”

  1. Eva Says:

    Eloquently written.
    Makes me feel good.
    love to the family from family,
    Eva

  2. Sue Says:

    Bruce, you are a wonderful writer. What a beautiful picture you paint! Thanks for all you do.

  3. Lizinator Says:

    Lovely posting. It put me in mind of a William Carlos Williams poem:

    If I when my wife is sleeping
    and the baby and Kathleen
    are sleeping
    and the sun is a flame-white disc
    in silken mists
    above shining trees,–
    if I in my north room
    dance naked, grotesquely
    before my mirror
    waving my shirt round my head
    and singing softly to myself:
    “I am lonely, lonely,
    I was born to be lonely,
    I am best so!”
    If I admire my arms, my face
    my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
    against the yellow drawn shades,–

    Who shall say I am not
    the happy genius of my household?

  4. krk Says:

    Lovely. Your writing and your discovery of a muse in a beautiful town.
    krk

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