Monday, February 05, 2007

More Of The Same

What do you write when the days are interminable and there is really nothing to say? You don't. Instead you copy other people's words in hopes that that will amuse or entertain anyone who stops by. Preferably about someone who is the opposite of you.

The Mysterious and Magical Lives of KC (from The Way of the Wanderer by David Yeadon)

Maine's lovely, lonely, pine-clad islands attract many offbeat characters. Some are the flotsam and jetsam of war traumas or of a world gone slightly wacko. They wash up on the shores at random intervals. Most stay only a short while, make a few bucks or live off scraps of welfare, and then move on in search of other places, other answers. A few stay and reinvent their lives and become, eventually, accepted "comers-in".

But then there are the "loners", the "hermits", the "gurus", who quickly vanish into the thick pine forests of these small, wild places, set up reclusive homes of sorts and appear only once in a while to buy supplies before burrowing back again into the dark, silent interiors of these islands.

Totally by chance I found one such "hermit home" on a hike I took across the southern tip of a lovely island. I strolled through the thick, resin-scented forests and along the edges of small coves carved from the pink granite bedrock which gleamed and twinkled, its surf-scoured forms polished into shapes resembling soft, downy pillows.

The house was one of those places hopeful hermits dream about - a tiny, obviously self-built A-frame sheltered by pines and placed on a rocky ledge on the curve of a small cove with windows overlooking the ocean and a boat ramp of natural rock linking it to the tiny beach.

The yard was neatly organized: three piles of cleanly chopped wood - kindling to the left, fast burning in the centre and slow, all-night logs to the right; a stack of lobster traps surrounded by neatly coiled ropes, buoys, and a large blue plastic barrel for the catch; a generator and an outside refrigerator stocked with cold beer and basics; a small outbuilding used as a toilet. Everywhere a sense of perfect harmony and order.

I knocked on the door. There was no reply but a note pinned to the wall was one of the most welcoming I've ever seen:

Welcome - come on in -
there's no dog to bite
only water, food and beer
to keep you here
til I return
before the night. KC

So - I let myself in and entered KC's little world.

The inside was similar to the outside, neatly organized, and consisted of a single room, around 20` by 20`, equipped with all the basics of KC's life - wood burning stove and oven, battery-powered stereo and CB radio, sofa covered in an old quilt, scattered rugs, a well-stocked library with a distinct bias toward ecology, hand-built homes, carpentry and small-scale farming. On the low table by the sofa was a manual for constructing a solar greenhouse, and in the corner by the stereo, a meticulous balsa-wood model of the house itself, obviously a feature of pride. What was not present was a TV, family photographs (at least not on display), dishwasher, microwave, washer-dryer, freezer, huge racks of pots and pans and dishes and dinner sets, bread-maker, pasta-maker, toaster, or any of the other stuff we seem to clutter our homes with.

Around the cooking/washing area was a raised platform reached by a rough-cut ladder, which contained a mattress covered by another colourful old quilt, a lamp, and more shelves of books. Sunlight trickled through segments of stained glass into the room, illuminating the floors and walls.

And that basically was it. A totally self-sufficient home - economical, extremely cozy and full of the owner's - KC's - presence.

Or rather - presences.

For it was then, after I'd taken this initial inventory (in preparation for a spate of hermitting myself?) that the richness and variety of KC's lives - the remarkable range of interests and talents - began to open up in front of me. For a start I'd underestimated the scope of the library. Now I spotted organized groupings of books on nonfiction writing, screenplay writing, movie-making, interior design, gardening (yes, I later found an equally well-organized garden-in-miniature behind the house brimming with herbs, tomatoes, beans, and squash), hunting, boat maintenance, lobstering, gourmet cooking (primarily vegetarian), philosophy, invention-patenting, art (more than twenty manuals on watercolour and oil techniques alone), scuplture, herbal medicines, poetry, and a host of self-improvement and mystic works. And then there were some real oddities on hologram design and manufacturing, hot-air-balloon designs, logo-creation and strangest of all, an untitled book containing reproductions of ornate mirrors from countries all over the world, with, in each case, a silver mirrored surface which gave back faint reflections of the reader.

Then I looked at the walls. They were packed with oil canvases and framed watercolors - mainly island landscapes and all bursting with the energy and confidence of an artist who understands his subject and knows what he wants to say and how to say it. And on a long shelf below the stained glass window was a series of black files - some crammed with KC's poems, a nonfiction book on island living, a novel, two screenplays, a cookbook-in-progress with the working title Nature's Bounty, and a score of other KC projects.

I sat on the floor exhausted and exhilarated. I felt I had walked directly into a stranger's head and been treated to a whirlwind guided tour of dozens of selves all gloriously rampaging and roiling around this tiny A-frame shack on a little-known islet in Maine, two miles from the nearest paved road (actually the island had only one paved road) and a million miles from what passes as normal life in the world beyond this tiny cove.

I wanted to meet him (or her). And yet in a way, I didn't. It was enough to feel the energy, the presence, the range of talents, the incredible array of selves so generously displayed and accessible to anyone who happened to be lucky enough to come across this hidden nirvana.

A little handwritten note tacked above the stove read:

Ideas are as abundant as the stars in the universe...reach deep into your own universe and take them. Your creativity will bounce on the breath of the Creator's laughter and joy. KC.

I waited for an hour and then decided to leave. But not before scribbling a brief note:

To KC - whoever and wherever you are...
I could easily have missed this place
lost in the constant race
of my own thoughts and mental din
but I came, and have come on in
as you suggest
- and have been truly blessed.
Thank You.

And I walked back through the deep woods, singing and tingling.


A thinker said...

That's beautiful. What a lovely story! I'd love to stumble upon KC's dwelling...

Jackie said...

Jenn, I always like what you write (obviously, as I keep coming back). I like your stories of family, your thoughts, the way your moods come through - all of it. And I like this too, when you write someone elses words. It made me read about KC, something I normally wouldn't have read, and I like it.

Jenn said...

Thinker: Hey! I went over to your new place and am not allowed to comment anymore!

Jackie: Thanks Jackie, that means a lot.