Dear Winn – 21 February 2016

Dear Winn:
Thanks for your letter. To think of you and Miska and your good boys traipsing around Acadia and Prince Edward Island fills me with such happiness. I’m thankful you have the vision to set out for haunts like that. You’re etching memories into your boys’ brains, and days far into the future those memories can keep two men tethered to one another when the weight of living threatens to split them apart. “Remember when?” is a potent line.
We both wrote of power, and then woke up this morning to see Trump won South Carolina. Meredith’s pretty spooked about this stuff. I’m concerned but not spooked yet. She’d say, “Well what will it take to spook you?” That’s a good question. I guess I thought one morning we’d wake and the Don would be on a talk show explaining how this was all a candid-camera type gag, and he’d be laughing and the show host would be laughing and then we’d all be laughing too, scrambling on eBay to get a “Make America Great Again” cap for heaven’s sake before they’re all gone. But it seems we’ve passed that point, doesn’t it? I guess I am sorta spooked. Trump is spooky, but its just as spooky that a significant number of Americans put their eggs in his basket.    
We’re emerging from a couple of days of sustained fifty/sixty mph winds. We get those every once in a while here on the Front Range, not for long, but for long enough. I’ve read accounts of frontier women, abandoned by their sorry husbands, who went nuts because of the wind, and crawled out on some bare piece of land to just end it all. Winds like that make me punchy and I’m not living in a prairie dugout having to scramble for food and water and take care of children and chickens. I cannot imagine. Such accounts make me feel fragile. I like to believe I’ve got grit, but I don’t know. Some of those frontier women left notes: “The wind. I could no longer stand the wind.”
I skipped church this morning because my ox was in el ditcho, also known as my fence panels needed to be anchored to the posts that my neighbor and I set yesterday, posts that needed to settle overnight in the concrete we poured, posts and panels that blew over in those godawful winds. So Neighbor Dan and I worked this morning and got everything back in place. I’m much better at nouns and verbs than I am wood screws and a Makita, but once you show me I can usually bumble along. Neighbor Dan shook my hand when we finished and said, “That fence ain’t going nowhere now, John.” I believe him, it ain’t (I hope). 
I read an article this week by the late poet Carolyn Kizer where she was describing a class she took taught by Roethke and her classmates were the likes of Hugo (there he is), James Wright, and Jack Gilbert. Can you imagine being in that room? Holy mack! I read articles like that, or read about some of the late 50s/early60s Stegner Fellowship classes full of students with names like Berry (Wendell) and McMurtry (Larry) and McGuane (Tom) and Hall (Donald)…man, my mind spins. I, like you, believe I was born at my appointed time, but that doesn’t stop me on occasion longing for another. I guess what I’m saying is sometimes I feel like I missed something. Do you remember in It’s A Wonderful Life when George Bailey would pause (almost wince) when he heard the whistle of a train? He dearly loved his life, but there was still that pained dream of another. 
Speaking of movies, I watched the western Bone Tomahawk last night, mainly due to my brother’s recommendation. The dialogue in it was wonderful, plus any flick with Kurt Russell as sheriff is a must-see in my book. A bit gory at times, like “wow, I didn’t see that coming” gory, so not one to enjoy on date night by any means. I haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet, I think Kurt’s a bounty hunter in that one. I wish somebody’d make a good old epic western. Did you realize its been twenty-five years since Lonesome Dove premiered?
I wrote you a big, long paragraph about marriage, about how I’m beyond ready for the hashtag #marriagewins. But I erased it all. Maybe that one’s for another day, maybe not.
Meredith and I have had several scenarios lately where we’ve had just enough – money, time, whatever. We talked about that a little this weekend, how we’d so love one of these days to get ahead/feel ahead. But the faith we claim to have contradicts that as the Old Book says to pray for daily bread, in other words “just enough.” We’re very thankful for sufficient. Still, I’d love to get a little ahead.   

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1 Comment

  1. Anne Bethea on February 22, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I love this letter.

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