Jan and I are getting ready to leave for Carmel, California to attend our only child’s wedding. Finn is marrying Emily Basham on September 14. She is a smart, strong and beautiful woman and they seem to be wonderfully happy together. This makes everything more beautiful in our lives.
Fall creeps slowly upon us as we pack. Our fucia plants seem to be the only things left blooming, yet the afternoon wind had knocked one blossom down onto the ground. When we came back from Seattle two weeks ago a storm had knocked down most of the fireweed in our wild patch of garden and they had gone to seed, so now the wind blows their fluff around in the dazzling light like fairy dust. Our cherry tree shows a few red leaves but there are still a lot of bright red huckleberries fat on the branches next to my office.
For those of you keeping up with the ongoing story of depression and the treatment I have been seeking, so far I am unequivocally positive about the results of the ketamine treatment. I have far more energy and I do not have the compulsive thoughts of self harm that I once had right up to the moment I started to the treatments. While I feel appropriate sadness, when I look back on sad events I don’t have the narcissistic impulses or the self loathing to take on more than my share of suffering. Yet I do have insight into mistakes I have made and how to handle things better in the future. It’s as if my ego has shrunken down to some much more appropriate size than the swollen gout-like leg that everyone always had a knack for bumping into, especially when I kept thrusting it in their way. I have dreams I’ve never had before. I think new thoughts. I have new energy but I am the same person. It is a strange phenomenon that I am still processing.
I have been writing another Cecil book and am very close to the end of the first draft. I hope to show something to my editor before Christmas. My next book, What Is Time To A Pig is due to come out on February 4, of 2020. I have just been asked to recommend writers for cover blurbs. Do any of you readers out there have recommendations for writers to do a blurb? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What Is Time To A Pig? is set in the near future seven years after President Trump’s re-election war with North Korea after the Koreans fired a long range missile that fizzles out over Alaska dropping undetonated warheads over Cold Storage. There is a radical group of Islamic Native Americans of the Second Ghost Dance Movement whose leader is named Ali Wild Horses and he wants to get his hands on one, he unfortunately enlists a helpless white guy named Gloomy Knob to help him and they both end up in nearby Ted Stevens Federal Penitentiary, when authorities discover there is one last bomb still out there wired to blow up any second. Now everyone either wants to get it back or wants it to blow up and poor Gloomy Knob is being tortured for answers he doesn’t have.
So, who should I ask to blurb a book like this? Names? Names? Come on people!
Recently I have been reading a book on the American gun culture called Unintended Consequences which was given to a friend of mine who I based the character of Boomer in Baby’s First Felony. He is a very smart and kind man but he is a very “from my cold dead hands” kind of guy. I like him and I have been talking with him about what gun enthusiasts and non-violence guys like me, could do together to address senseless mass shootings. It’s a work in progress so far. I believe he sees gun ownership as a foundation of individual liberty, and without that there is no sense in talking about cooperative social justice. He sees that as a sham. But we keep talking and I insist there is something we both can do to keep innocent people from being “bullied and slaughtered” (is how I put it to him) and he agrees with me, so we keep talking.
His book is really long. I’m also reading Make Prayers To The Raven by Richard Nelson. He was intending to come down to the wedding but he is very sick and he is down in San Francisco seeing a host of specialists. I have all of his books and have read them all, but he has never signed a book for “Little Finny” as he thinks of our boy, so he signed a copy of Make Prayers for Finn and Emily as a wedding gift. I couldn’t help myself and started reading it again.
I love Richard Nelson, he is like a brother to me. Going out in the woods with him is like being with a Las Vegas comic and a holy man all in one. He is so full of energy and enthusiasm he nearly bursts at the seams. He cannot contain himself at the discovery of something new. Yet he is reverential to the slightest, and smallest turns of beauty. He can restrain himself when restraint is called for, by the decorum of the other beings, where I would just blunder along in my lack of awareness. I have learned so much from his writing and from his example. No, he is not perfect, and of course we are completely different kinds of writers and thinkers, we have differing opinions about a lot of things, but knowing him is one of the great privileges of my life and my admiration for him brims out of my heart and my brain.
You may know him from his Encounters radio programs, but if you want to know him for his more serious and scholarly work go back to the beginning. I happen to love Hunters of the Northern Ice for it’s exquisite attention to detail. You don’t have to take it all in but go back to it in pieces, as an investigator I have to marvel at how he saw things and recorded them with mostly his eye and his pencil. He writes about movement and action brilliantly. You can literally put together how people hunted before snow machines and before the outboard motor became ubiquitous in the Arctic from the descriptions in this one book.
Some people criticize him for not showing the effects of colonialism on the cultures he was documenting. But that was not his brief. He went there as a guest to understand their cultures before they became inundated by the outside forces, which I think he did beautifully and honestly. To blame him for not noting the ravages of colonialism is like blaming the firefighter who goes into a burning building to rescue precious religious artifacts for not stopping to admire the flames.
But don’t take my word for it, go to the library and pick up all of his books. They are carefully and lovingly written and they are classics. Hunters Of The Northern Ice, Hunters of the Northern Forest, Make Prayers to the Raven, Shadow of the Hunter, The Island Within, and Heart And Blood.
Here is one of his quotes, and there are many that I love:
“As time went by, I realized that the particular place I'd chose was less important than the fact that I'd chosen a place and focused my life around it. Although the island has taken on great significance for me, it's no more inherently beautiful or meaningful than any other place on earth. What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it's flat or rugged, rich or austere. wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame. Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love and respect shown toward it, and by the way in which its bounty is received.” The Island Within
This book may be his most widely read and celebrated, but all of his books are worth going back to. His voice is more than his radio show’s enthusiastic call to participate in wonder, he is our true scholar and man of wisdom. These books should not be overlooked or easily categorized in favor of the easy or the popular. They are essential. Now more than ever.
More to come for all my friends soon.
Fireweed fluff blows
on the sunlit wind like snow:
summer is leaving.