Our Separate Ways


Another of the old Dodge. I have no idea how this photo came to be, and that’s probably for the best. 

I camped last night at a music festival with my older boy, and waking early with hours to spare before he roused, I drove to a nearby mountain for a short hike. There I trundled upward, clad in barn boots and flannel, until the heat of my exertion saw me shrugging the shirt and now shirtless and silly-looking I walked onward until I came to a minor footpath diverging from the trail. With no conscious decision reached (and, in fact, none sought), there I turned, and soon after found myself in a forest of mature hardwood, sugar maple and ash. The light just coming on, feet clammy and hot in boots. I stood there, not thinking much of anything and not wanting to, until maybe 70 yards below me a black bear lumbered into the clearing of an old skid road. He (she?) sensed me there and turned his head my way and now we both stood, one looking at the other, until I realized some time had passed. A minute? Two? I cannot say, but we held in the morning softness and the pattering of raindrops shaking themselves loose from the foliage, falling cool against the skin of my back. Then he turned his head and ambled on, and I guess I’m not ashamed to say I felt tears welling. Not of sadness, or even joy, but of something that felt as if perhaps it lay deeper, though I can’t say what that would be. Maybe just the unsettling knowledge of how little we can predict, of how little control we have, of how even the most innocuous circumstances and choices – to wake early, to decide on a hike, to unthinkingly veer from the marked trail – can impact our lives in ways we could have never imagined.

Or maybe it’s just this: I went for a walk and saw a bear in the woods and we watched one another for a while. Then we went our separate ways.

Apropos of all the car talk, a great segment from Erica. (some folks seem to have a hard time seeing the links… so here are the analog instructions: click “from Erica”) 

Been a while since we’ve had any music. How ’bout this one from the Turnpike Troubadours?



22 thoughts on “Our Separate Ways”

  1. I love it so much when I see the wild animal. Especially big ones. Predators. I feel all is right with the world.

    Hmmm, I know that picture is going to get a reaction. Is it a Power Wagon? We had one of those at The Ranch and it was beasty hard to get started. But when finally going it went!

    1. Yeah, stepping out on a limb with that pic;)

      It was a D100… not sure if that fell into the “Powerwagon” camp. Considering it was a six cylinder with three forward gears, it probably shouldn’t’ve.

  2. Surely shows your love for that car. 🙂 Great photo though, stuff laying on the grass adds to it, submit it for the coffee table book on Vermont they sell in country stores. 🙂

  3. How is it you’ve written 5 books and that photo hasn’t made it on the cover of one of them? Saving it for above the epitaph, maybe?

    Your bear sighting sounds like good medicine.

  4. My first thought when I saw the picture was why is he sitting in the truck nekkid with his foot on the gas? He just came back from swimming? What is he reading? A moment in the life of a Vermont farmer…Seeing that bear must have been wonderful, the unexpected beauty and power of it all. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. The photo: the juxtaposition of flesh and metal, vulnerability and incorrigibility; reading and rutting; nakedness in a landscape of absence. It’s like you’re reading a manual to get the thing running. Like you just came out from the house with an idea, no time for even clothes. Or maybe it’s a manual of unique positions. Or maybe it’s an idea for an early blog post. Or wedding photos. Or Ansel Adams. Or a biography of the Butthole Surfers. Or the Psalms, the 23th Psalms. Or that $10 you forgot you already spent on weed.

  6. I love the true freedom I sense when I look at the photo. Life is good when you can sit in your truck naked! I love that you spontaneously shared it 🙂 The bear story scares me esp. the part about early, and going off the path etc. I’m glad he ambled on..

  7. “even the most innocuous circumstances and choices – to wake early, to decide on a hike, to unthinkingly veer from the marked trail – can impact our lives in ways we could have never imagined.”

    Great writing and I love the analogy at the end.

    1. Seriously? That 225 six-cylinder was a marvelous engine. Reliable, and great gas mileage (for its day). As long as you kept a case of 50-weight oil in the trunk, you were golden.

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