Rude Awakenings

by Dave Hanks



        The gifted high school athlete
			is in a situation unique.
	His ego is on display
			for any recruiter to "tweak".

	They will "wine and dine" him,
			and his parents as well.
	His past and future glories
			they labor hard to tell.

	He feels so extra-ordinary,
			from all they have to say.
	But little does he know,
			that there's going to come a day -

	When that gigantic bubble,
			laid on him from the first;
	Has about run its course.
			It is just about to burst!

	'Cause when they finally "land him" 
			(when they get him there) -
	He becomes "their game"
			and anything is fair.

	Life will suddenly change.
			It will take on a different "feel".
	Coaches are now ranting, and cussing!
			"Is that now part of the deal?"

	He is no longer grandiose,
			no longer the favored "son".
	Amid all the many bodies,
			he is just another one.
	
	And in life a lesson,
			now hits him "stark and plain",
	That any inner, glowing comfort
			can quickly become a pain.
	
	Human nature is so freakish.
			animalistic to see.
	Because they will only love you:
			“For what you do for me!"

chewp

#75:Running Interference

A Special Train Ride

by Dave Hanks

I came north on the Polar Bear Express. I came upon the rails. Clicking rails that sing in rhythm to the swaying of the train – a heavy, powerful force propelling itself methodically through the scrubby, spruce-covered landscape. Trains have always fascinated me and this one is no exception. It’s sounds and motion leave me mesmerized.

The quantity of people required to run this train is surprising. There is a long-nosed conductor who jokes and makes wry comments as he checks each ticket. Brakemen, hostesses, and even girls to entertain the children pass up and down the aisles. All the kids are systematically rounded up to sit in on a story hour. They return with coloring and puzzle books, and with happy smiles. The adults are not forgotten either as a very pert, young lady plays the piano in the entertainment car and the passengers join in a sing-fest.

These Canadians strike me as an unusual lot. They are very forthright, down home, and definitely family oriented. Irish, English, French, and Cree inhabit the train. Three different languages can be seen written upon both the inside and outside of the cars. Also, the hostess periodically narrates the progress in both English and French. Cree hieroglyphics, large, bold, and Arabic-looking; plaster the sides of the coaches.

It seems that the depot ticket girl quietly segregated us all when issuing tickets. The French are on a separate car, teenagers on another, Indians on another, and I’m in a family car of very English-type people. A father across the aisle has two small boys. Both boys are very active and their Dad dotes on them – his countenance beaming with fatherly pride as he points out things along the way and supervises the consumption of treats.

A big Irishman is the station master at the jumping-off point. He reminds me of my oldest brother – big and “extrovertish”. He keeps busy chatting with the passengers, in-between dealing with drunken Indians. I am not a Canadian and he seems concerned with the impressions that I might be forming. There is a drunken Cree who is giving him problems. The Indian is ensconced on my bench and is trying to make conversation. He appears to be a permanent fixture in the depot. The Irishman asks him to leave but nothing happens. Suddenly the police arrive to take the drunk to jail to sleep it off. I get the impression that the station master and the Indian are well acquainted and that I’m seeing history repeating itself. The Cree profanes and curses at the big man as he is led away.

Curiously, there is another drunken Indian at the arrival point. I must attract drunks because this one approaches me also. He asks: “Are you from South Dakota?” “No”, I say, “I’m from Idaho.” “Idaho huh! I’ve been to Idaho. I worked in Portland, Oregon.” Off he wanders to the baggage room. I can hear his voice apprehending the workers.”Hey, anyone wanna fight? There’s a guy over there from Idaho that’ll fight you.”

Fascinating country has rushed past between the embarking and debarking points. Mile after mile of stunted trees intertwined with endless marsh. The express rattles across bridge after bridge, each spanning a big river with a quaint name: Jawbone, Moose, Succor Creek, and Abitibi River. Gigantic Beaver lodges dot the water and ripples on the water surface reveal the presence of that large rodent. Indian children wave at the train – racing to their positions as if they have the assignment to be firmly in place for each passing.

It is July and the daylight clings on and on, making the most of the brief Northern Canadian summer. In spite of the persistence of the daylight, the weather is more fickle. It can’t decide what to do: hot, bright, sun to overcast – humid mists, to intermittent rain squalls.

The Indian settlement of Moosenee finally comes into view. It’s a low-lying town nestled on the shore of Hudson Bay. Wooden buildings line extremely wide, dirt-packed boulevards. The Cree race their trucks and cars up and down each street as if they were in a great hurry to get someplace – except there are no roads that lead from the settlement. The same faces keep appearing as they come and go. The town is an old Hudson Bay Fur Company establishment. The antiquated fur warehouses are still in place, doing business as in the past. A huge Catholic Church dominates it all. Planes buzz overhead and motor boats leave the pier at periodic intervals, taking people to the other half of the city across the water. Crees man these boats. They are intent on getting a share of the tourist dollar by sending young children who keep badgering me to ride in their father’s boat.

Indian culture is the epitome of social bonding. I’m struck by the fact that they act more like tourists than the tourists do. Groups of them are clumped all over main street, happily gabbing and eating ice cream – getting the most out of their short northern summer. They enjoy the brief glimpses of sunlight during what is otherwise a somewhat rainy day.

I came north on the Polar Bear Express. This Northland train is the pride of Ontario. I came all the way from Cochrane to Moosenee – one hundred and eighty six miles to the James Bay Wilderness. Curiosity made me come. The only way to get here is either by train or by plane. There are no roads, only miles of Black Spruce, Birch, and Tamarack. It’s Taiga: “Land of the little sticks”. Tiger Lilies, White Field Daisies, Yarrow, Buttercup, and Heather dot the way, adding color to the landscape. Ravens, Gulls, Swallows, and Robins flit through shrubbery and sky. Cree Indians flow freely back and forth upon the train. I wonder what is their purpose.

This country adds a different flavor to life. It’s a different world in a different time – a time that has become somewhat stationary. The whole experience enriches my life. Yes – I came north to taste it, and I’m glad of it!

hudsonp

The Polar Bear Express

OUT AND ABOUT

by Dave Hanks



 The snow is fluffily,
			“sifting” down.
		It leaves a thick “carpet-like” covering
				upon the ground.
			 

		Its mystical magic
			that floats on the air.
		And it’s an invigorating joy
				to be out where –
			


		The wonders of life
			move to and fro.
		And lucky we are,
			that much I know,
			


		To have natural treasures
			so close at hand
		And everywhere present
			across sky and land
			


   Winter can be a good time to observe large mammals.
   Heavy snow makes movement inefficient for conserving 
   energy. Energy that is so important for winter survival, 
   when one must compete for the scarcity of available 
   food, and the energy to maintain body temperature under 
   cold conditions. The beasts are reluctant to move
   much, and if you are careful not to stress them, 
   you can get close up and personal.
    

Targee snow and moose

Dream World

Isak Dinesen, author of “Out of Africa”, in her short story “Echoes from the Hills”, talks about Juma, a former house boy grown old. “An old man by the name of Juma from time to time would come up to the old house and ask permission to walk the grounds, to think, there, of the time that had once been, and for an afternoon would walk on the paths beneath the tall trees and then again would disappear. It was believed that he had come along a rough grass-track winding into the Masai Reserve – a long way for an old man to walk in order to meditate on the past.”

A past that had now become a part of a “Dream World”. A world where conscience is subverted to imagination and memories. Recollections that become shaded and hard to determine which was really real and which was nothing more than perception of that time, memories that make an event or place “bigger than life”. A thing I have learned is that one can never go back to a place from the past and regain the splendor that one recalls that place to have had. That particular past is like a dream, gone and hard to remember in total accuracy.

So the question arises: What is reality? Could it be just imaginings of the mind? Is history real, or has fantasy played a cruel trick upon the recorder’s psyche? Especially events of centuries ago, have, perhaps, been embellished beyond actuality. I know how present day occurrences are mis-reported and how legends spring forth – one who has personal knowledge of an event, cannot recall things happening in the way the event was reported.

We cannot own or control anything for long. We seem to be mere transients upon this world’s stage. That which we do, when we are gone, will be just a figment of other’s imaginations. At one time I existed. Was my life and the lives of past family members real or just a dream long past?

I live in an old, intriguing brick house on a small farm. The yard consists of about 4 acres. My parents, now deceased, planted the original yard and since those days my wife and I have greatly enlarged upon the trees, lawns, and shrubbery. It is now difficult to remember how it used to be – real, or is it remembered with a grandeur that wasn’t true? All the work and care expended can be erased so quickly, after some new proprietor takes hold of the reins. Because it was my parents, I have never felt like I completely owned it. The burden of what will become of it weighs heavily upon my conscience. It will all be a dream, hard to recall in detail.

My college athletic past and notoriety shrunk from view so fast that it makes me think of the song that says: “The things we did last summer, I’ll remember all winter long”. Gone in the “twinkling of a calendar year”! Years of school teaching and coaching are fading more slowly, but I now have a hard time recollecting any but a few special students and athletes. I was the driving force, so how would others, less committed, remember those days?

An obsession of my elderly years is wildlife photography. But what will all this concerted effort come to when my time is over? The photos will have to be exceptional if anyone, or school, would want even some of them. Their ultimate destiny, like school notes so carefully taken, will be the fire.

How much good has a person done that might be remembered? That is a valid question. The scope of that worth depends on the opinions of others. In the end it will become a “Dream World”. Perceptions of that past world will be as varied as each individual dreamer!

Scottish Highlands and sheep: Photos are more accuate than memory

Dream World

By Dave Hanks

Isak Dinesen, author of “Out of Africa”, in her short story
“Echoes from the Hills”, talks about Juma, a former house boy grown old. “An old
man by the name of Juma from time to time would come up to the old house and ask
permission to walk the grounds, to think, there, of the time that had once been,
and for an afternoon would walk on the paths beneath the tall trees and then
again would disappear. It was believed that he had come along a rough
grass-track winding into the Masai Reserve – a long way for an old man to walk
in order to meditate on the past.”

A past that had now become a part of a “Dream World”. A world where
conscience is subverted to imagination and memories. Recollections that becomes
shaded and hard to determine which was really real and which was nothing more
than perception of that time, memories that make an event or place “bigger than
life”. A thing I have learned is that one can never go back to a place from the
past and regain the splendor that one recalls that place to have had. That
particular past is like a dream, gone and hard to remember in total accuracy.

So the question arises: What is reality? Could it be just imaginings of the
mind? Is history, whether secular or biblical, real, or has fantasy played a
cruel trick upon the recorder’s psyche? Especially events of centuries ago,
have, perhaps, been embellished beyond actuality. I know how present day
occurrences are mis-reported and how legends spring forth – one who has a
personal knowledge of that event, cannot recall things happening in the way they
were reported.

We cannot own or control anything for long. We seem to be mere transients
upon this world’s stage. That which we do, when we are gone, will be just a
figment of other’s imaginations. At one time I existed. Was my life and the
lives of past family members real or just a dream long past?

I live in an old, intriguing brick house on a small farm. The yard consists
of about 4 acres. My parents, now deceased, planted the original yard and since
those days my wife and I have greatly enlarged upon the trees, lawns, and
shrubbery. It is now difficult to remember how it used to be – real, or is it
remembered with a grandeur that wasn’t true? All the work and care expended can
be erased so quickly, after some new proprietor takes hold of the reins. Because
it was my parents, I have never felt like I completely owned it. The burden of
what will become of it weighs heavily upon my conscience. It will all be a
dream, hard to recall in detail.

My college athletic past and notoriety shrunk from view so fast that it makes
me think of the song that says: “The things we did last summer, I’ll remember
all winter long”. Gone in the “twinkling of a calendar year”! Years of school
teaching and coaching are fading more slowly, but I now have a hard time
recollecting any but a few special students and athletes. I was the driving
force, so how would others, less committed, remember those days?

An obsession of my elderly years is wildlife photography. But what will all
this concerted effort come to when my time is over? The photos will have to be
exceptional if anyone, or school, would want even some of them. Their ultimate
destiny, like school notes so carefully taken, will be the fire. So one must
milk the present for what satisfaction they get because in the end it will
become a “Dream World”. Perceptions of that past world will be as varied as each
individual dreamer!

 

 

Contentment

by Dave Hanks


When the corn is in the silo
        And the hay is in the barn,
                It’s time to be expectin’
                        Any oft told old time yarn.
Of how the snow was a settin’
        So heavy on the ground,
                And the mystery in the air
                        Was siftin’ heavy, all around.
Of the fairies in the fireplace,
        Just a dancin’ nice and keen.
                In between the logs a blazin’
                        With a lustrous, shining sheen.
And out through the tree tops,
        Out there in the storm,
                Comes a rompin’ and a whisprin’ an’ 
                        So comfortin’ to be where it’s warm. 
But surprises are in the offing.
        Surprises are in store.
                Your heart will do a hand-stand
                        Over pleasant things galore. 
What are those things you ask me?
        What is the big surprise?
                I’ll tell if you’ll listen.
                        It’ll make you “oh” so wise.
Mostly, it’s in the spirit of the livin’.
        It’s the excitement when you roam.
                It’s the joy of your life-style,
                        It’s the happiness in the home!

Barred Owl: Contenment - Whatever the weather

Eyes of Love

by Dave Hanks

Have you ever noticed a penny on the ground? Did you stop and pick it up? Many times I’ve stood by my school room and beheld a penny on the hallway floor. Students would invariably
pass over and not give it a second glance. They paid no attention to something they attached little value to. After a time, not wanting it to clutter the floor, I would rescue the coin and put it in a proper place. Where little value is ascribed, little observation occurs and poor understanding results.

When in the Registered Angus Cattle business, I cherished every cow in the herd. I could look at them lined up at the manger, from their back ends, and identify every individual and give a summation of each one’s traits. To others they all looked alike. But I had a deep love for Angus cattle and therefore noticed things easily. At a Utah State Fair, strolling
with my wife through the pavilion that housed art exhibits, we came upon a lady’s sculpture display. She had an excellent one of a bovine bull. She had titled it “Angus”. Though the
workmanship was very good, the title did not fit the subject. It was obvious that she had little real understanding of cattle. Wanting to know my thoughts, I was unable to convey to her that “feel” that was needed to have made the piece more authentic. An explanation that would be unnecessary to one absorbed with the subject matter.

My wife and I have developed an unbridled love for the natural world. Our eyes have been opened as a result and there has been a “snow-balling” effect. The more you notice, the greater the ability to notice becomes. When showing others slides of local birds and other life-forms, the comment always surfaces: “I’ve never seen any of those. Where have they been hiding?” It’s amazing – when the “covers” come off the eyes, things appear where they never were before. I’ve witnessed this marvelous event. New vistas of excitement, knowledge, and understanding results. Understanding breeds fondness. Understanding increases as fondness deepens.

Two people with an affection for each other, see things in the other person which the average observer cannot comprehend. Why is this? Because there is no one who
can view things with as acute accuracy as one who “looks through the eyes of love”!