I said hello to my friend the mountain yesterday. Hadn’t seen my friend in a long time.
As you can tell from my posts, trucking was and still is in my blood, competing with so many other passions, woodwork, art, music and writing. Some days I feel like I’m going to burst, keeping up with all these things. How does one make all of this work together in harmony. Well, I did drop the trucking, for almost six years. I’ll keep on trying to create outlets for the rest of these fine gifts I’ve been given.
Unfortunately my business grant comes to an end in two weeks. I called my former employer who has a transport and crating operation to see if I could do some part time or contract crating, peparing goods for shipping to the arctic by boat. I explained that I want to keep my woodworking business going and was only looking for fill-in work as another tentative crating contract hadn’t materialised.
He called me the next day with a solution, a dedicated night run which would start at four in the afternoon and finish by midnight. I live fifty miles from the shop which takes up so much driving time, although its through nice country and is peaceful. He informed me that in June the contract would switch to another city and the route would take me right past my house, so I could take the rig home and get two more hours in the shop. My soft drink run that I mentioned in “presents for my friends” was a similar situation. I was able to bring the semi home and have quality time with my family. My wife waited up till 1:30 this morning when I got home, then finally was able to sleep while I wound down with LumberJocks.
About the mountain – my friend the mountain. When you’re a creative person you have to find ways to make neccessary things become more than a test of endurance, or perseverance, and not perform your duties grudgingly. I made the best out of repetitive routes a creative thing, looking for scenes to paint, watching for circling hawks in the sky, looking for deer, moose and other wildlife in the wooded areas, listening to talk radio about relevant subjects, studying some of the old homesteads along the way wondering about their histories – their “stories” that could be told, all the while consciously looking for ways to improve the efficiency of my driving, and handling of traffic patterns and road conditions, trying to put creative energy into everything that I had to do to bring about a better outcome.
Even the landscape has a story. There’s a place along the highway where you come around a sweeping corner out of the forest along the river, and look down a straight stretch of about two miles ending in another sweeping corner. At the end of the straightaway a mountain with an awsome presence looms over the scene ahead, although its quite a distance away, across the river. Its outline is distinct from the other topography, and over the literally thousands of trips I’ve made past this landmark, I’ve learned its moods.
Grey and sullen in the misty fog drenching its summit. Standoffish on a bright, sunny day when I was all smiles and it wouldn’t say hello. Melancholy on a spring day with bright new foliage bursting forth from its lower levels. Proud in its soft brilliance on a fall evening, surveying its domain over the river valley. Pensive on a hot summer evening as the heat lightning threatens its cloak with the possibility of a brewing storm. Cold and stark in the throes of winter, silent under its snowy evergreens and leafless hardwoods. Gruff, impenetrable stares from its bald, rocky places pushing up through its thick forested cover.
I have seen my friend in the morning, at noon night and every hour of the day and season of the year. It has a story to tell from the dawn of creation, new in its formation, fresh with life teeming on its slopes – flora, fauna and new civilizations that probably gave it many a name as they lived and died in its presence. I dont look on the topographical map to know its present name because it has had many names.
How many trees have lived and died on this craggy promontory, crashing to their demise one hundred – two hundred – three hundred years after they pushed up through the thin soil covering its ancient rocky exterior.
It was in a dull mood yesterday in the late afternoon, grey-brown and unresponsive as I passed by for the first time in almost six years. Maybe it didn’t recognize me. Or maybe it has a new friend and I just can’t barge in and get reaquainted too quickly. I studied it hard as I watched it get closer, keeping it in my side view as the road swept around the outline of the river. No response. It faded from view then reappeared later as I crossed the big river into the city, looking across the expanse of cold, muddy water at my friends back, hazy and brown amongst its subjects.
By the time I came back to my friend the night was far along and the western star was big and bright, accompanied by a quarter moon, hanging out with the other twinkling orbs in the starry sky, hazy with silver white light cast by the lights of the two cities one hundred miles apart.
I cant be sure but I think I saw something. Its hard to tell. I thought I saw a response, a flicker of emotion for me, but maybe my friend was just enjoying a warm spring evening, feeling the new growth sprouting from its woody mantle.
I have to finish my painting, for a Ducks Unlimited auction this weekend, and then get into the city for my run . We’ll see how my friend the mountain is doing today.
-- Phil Brown, Ontario