The Four Seasons

How different life is now in these ole Appalachians mountains than it was many a year ago. In days gone by, a spring trickling water from the earth itself would have provided the most basic life support for the family.  Apples on the gnarly old tree would have been tumbling down from their rotchety branches.  The surreal orange maples, first firebrands of fall,  well…words cannot capture…
We don’t struggle against the elements on this mountain slope these days; it ain’t like the old days when the settlers forged out their homesteads from hostile nature with samwill lumber right off the land where they was a-livin’. No, we’re locked into the system now, not like them Scots-Irish forebears who came through here just a few years after Dan’l Boone, building barns and fences and cabins that now are old shacks that we pass by in our cars and sometimes take pictures of.
‘Specially this time of year.  There’s somethin’ special about them ole barns this time of year. A hundred and fifty year ago or more, the hard-scrabble struggle would have required a family to be domiciled down on the bottom, by a creek where we’d have a perpetual run of fresh water and a flat, fertile  land with dark loam to grow the crops on, or maybe if it weren’t a bottom it was a homestead by a spring  up on the slope a ways, where clear water is trickling out of God’s green earth, making a cool springhouse and  human household possible. Nowadays we’re up high-tech on the mountain, near the ridge. There ain’t no spring on this 1.5 acres, but there shure ’nuff is an unseen well-shaft ‘xtendin’ six hundred feet underground and a pump runnin’ on 220 that drives our water up here to where we are in the sunlight, and makes our domicile possible..
And by a miracle, on this golden, October Saturday evening,  of electrons racing through copper and silicon and God knows what other elements, I listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a recording I brought from worlds away, purchased when we were in Venice a few years back.
There’s a whole ‘nother world out there, with thousands of years of European pain and toil and tears and musical dynamicism vibrating through those trained violin, viola, violinocello strings and hands–a world of Venetian musicians, thrubbing now through a cd and a speaker and my mind as I sit here on the back porch in the 21st century beneath the poplars and the blue late-afternoon sky, three hundred and sum’n years after Antonio made the music happen. Hi-tech, y’know. What an amazing world we have wrought upon the raw materials of God. And I just finished setting flat stone in mortar and grout,  a setting-place for a propane fireplace stove that we bought.  It’s not like the old days any more,when the home folks would just keep the wood stove stokin’ through the winter.
We can do that wood-burnin’ thing if we have to, but it’s a lot of trouble for an old guy like me who’s still managing to  hold down a 40-hour. Thank God.
No, that pressurized, bottle-up hydrocarbon  gas will be trucked in from some distant place, maybe some rig out in the Gulf that BP’s a-runnin’, God forgive ’em. Maybe even from the Persian Gulf, I don’t know.
And God forgive me, too, but we gotta be warm in January. Makes me wonder how long this  highly leveraged, technified, transportified thing can go on…At some point that four-season cycle  ended for Vivaldi, and at some point in time it will end for me, but I’m loving the October late afternoon…
Thank God for another day on this golden earth.

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