would myth return?
The fires are lit and the animals are fed. The Creek Drank the Cradle is on the record playing, spinning lazily in the living room. With the giant television gone and no speakers in that main room with the stove: the record player is the center of high-tech entertainment. Last night while paging through seed catalogs I listened to Johnny Cash at San Quentin and closed my eyes and smiled when he and June sang together. What a story, theirs. This morning it is a favorite record I know every lyric and tempo by heart. It turns with that static and scratching I love. The record player is older than I am. It's still got it.
I woke up to a snow covered farm, just a dusting. But still, all that clean white covering up months of senescence and mud, it is purifying to the farmer's soul. It makes the fires inside warmer, the mind expand into wild and older places. Outside the morning was warmer than it has been this week. The sun rose over the barn and Gibson was by my side through chores. The gosling is doing great, almost twice its hatch size and always with mom and dad. I decided to let the lad stay. A trio of geese just sounds right, doesn't it?
About those older and wilder places: on the way home from work last night I cut through Shushan because I wanted a slower drive over the river and through the woods (literally) to the farm. As I drove through the frozen night, it felt so still and cold with the new snow it was as if it had been paused and only my gray truck was left to move past the statues of does behind birch trees and windless pines. Suddenly, a snow squall started up again and the forest became a live again. In the streetlampless roads the only lights are the ones mounted on the front of your car and just ahead a dark form raced across the road and far into the night.
I don't know what it was. A deer, probably, or a bear. It could have been a dog or coyote or any other sort of North Country critter but it was fast and silent. I imagined myself not inside a V8 pickup in 2012, but in a horse-drawn farm wagon with nothing but two torch lanterns on the front. Could you imagine moving through a winter squall in near pitch-black roads with nothing but a yellow orb around you and your trotting horse? Wrapped up in a wool blanket and coat, a knit hat tight around your head and covering your ears, with a thick leather hat on top of that to keep the weather out? A scarf around your face, thick deerskin gloves, and the only sounds the wind and hooves? Now, imagine just out of view a black blur races across the road. The horse's head and ears shoot up in alert and he blows hard, stops in his tracks. You click him forward and his ears go from pressed against his head to orbiting around, listening for the monster. There's no radio, no steel and glass terrarium to keep you from the sounds of crackling brush, banshee winds, and then the low guttural tones of something just 20 yards to your right.
Don't you think your mind would take in that racing animal totally differently? That black blur would become a tale! Another sighting of a legend, or something out of folklore like a werewolf or ghost. You would take off your hat and wool layers and set them by the fire indoors and as you sat down to your dinner of slow-booking beans and beef from the dutch oven and ladle, you would tell everyone about what you and the horse saw, just 3 miles from the farmhouse...
I sometimes wonder if we lost all the electricity, all the modern, numbing conveniences of the world that treat many of us like we are handicapped—if myth would rise again? I'm not saying I want that (I have grown fond of my plug-in cage) but I certainly think I could deal with it just fine, and that a different kind of synapse would fire driving home in the snow. The forest would become bigger, wooly, and a place where magic and mystery writhe again. A part of me loves that idea. Another part of me is still nervous about a catamount on the barn roof. I'm not sure if it's hypocrisy or just idle thought, but either way I'd still like to drive a horse cart home in the snow one day. A come home and tell a story about it.