We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Mountain Recluses

Written By: Charles - Oct• 12•20

Fall and the RBG Moon. Orion, Mars, Venus, and the Great Dog

Monday gratefuls: Ancient friends. Their journeys. Learning and education. Life. All those drops for my eyes. Peanut butter and Rigel. Carne asada, twice baked potato, and salad. Safeway pickup. That snow yesterday. Mom’s yahrzeit on the 17th.

A bright, sunshiny day in the high 50’s. I worked at my computer. Turned around. A gray day. Snow blizzarding down, swirling. 39 degrees. Colorado. An hour later. No snow. Blue sky. Sunny. Black Mountain absorbed it all.

My ancient friends keep talking about the Ground Hog day nature of their lives. Not so for me. Each day has its own challenges. Our meal times vary. Sure, there are equivalent actions at familiar times: feeding the dogs, a.m., coming up to the loft, writing this blog. Breakfast, change Kate’s bandages. Noon or so nap. Evening dog feeding, some television. In between these though I could be reading, painting, writing.

Our life had a cloistered feel even before the pandemic. That’s intensified, for sure. We don’t have the occasional meal out. No movies. No CBE. Zooming with family, friends, synagogue classes. Yes, not the same as in person, as we all know now.

Both of us though are introverts. Kate even more so than I. Happiness is a book, a project, a downtime hour painting or sewing, watching a movie. Of course we love our kids, our grandkids, our friends, the folks at CBE. We would like to see them more often. But, not too much more often.

Mountain recluses. That’s us. Just got a novel, A Life of Li Bai. Either at retirement or upon banishment Chinese literati took up mountain living, usually as recluses. Li Bai, a Tang dynasty poet exiled in the time of the An Lushan rebellion is a mountain poet.

Here’s one of his memorized by generations of Chinese schoolchildren:

Thoughts in the Silent Night (静夜思)

床前明月光,   Beside my bed a pool of light—
疑是地上霜,   Is it hoarfrost on the ground?
舉頭望明月,   I lift my eyes and see the moon,
低頭思故鄉。   I lower my face and think of home.

And another famous poem (in China) by Han-Shan, or Cold Mountain, Poem 302:

出生三十年, I’ve been in the world for thirty years,
當遊千萬里。 And I must have traveled a million miles.
行江青草合, Walked by rivers where the green grass grows thick,
入塞紅塵起。 And entered the frontier where the red dust rises.
鍊藥空求仙, Purified potions in vain search for immortality,
讀書兼詠史。 Read books and perused the histories.
今日歸寒山, Today I return to Cold Mountain,
枕流兼洗耳。 Pillow myself on the creek and wash out my ears.

The pandemic has changed our lives, but not that much. Li Bai or Han Shan could have lived here.

The Consolations of the Mountains. Our wild Neighbors. The dark night Sky filled with Stars and Planets and Galaxies. The Lodgepole Pine and the Aspen. The dancing, sparkling Streams. The sturdy Rock. The thinner Air. Shadow Mountain home.

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