Time is a State of Mind

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

SEASONS OF OUR DISCONTENT: PART II

You can read Part 1 here:     PART I

In this photo, the season is late summer, the aspens have not turned yellow yet. When Ted Bundy escapes from the Pitkin County Courthouse at just about the time this photo is taken, he works his way through town, by-passes Tom’s Market, then climbs Aspen Mountain and hikes over to the back side. He runs across a cabin, breaks in, steals some food, some clothes, a rifle.

Keith+Kriya Aspen 1977 E1

This could easily have been my cabin, maybe with my wife alone inside or maybe both of us bathing outside beside the spring in the claw-foot tub. But it wasn’t. It was a neighbor’s cabin, maybe a mile away. Sometimes, the world allows you to become fully aware of just how much grace you’ve been given.

Life could get fairly demanding on the backside of Aspen Mountain. This is summer, and at that elevation (I don’t know, maybe 10,000 feet/3000 meters), it can get right crisp in the mornings. And the sun won’t actually hit you until it climbs over the serrated horizon of those mountains. If you have an imperious pussy for a horse (but no money for a real horse blanket), you might want to wrap him in thrift-store blankets and rope at sunset to keep him warm during the night, and you’ll probably be wearing your heavy Pendleton wool robe to keep yourself warm if you wander outside before breakfast to check on your horse, who is a gelding but does not accept that fact and still acts like the high-bred pedigreed American Quarter Horse stallion he was born—in numerous ways: he has a mind of his own; he is tricky, feisty, hard to control; he’s fast as the wind and always runs at the head of the pack whether you are on his back or he runs free with a herd through the high-mountain meadow where you board him. And he is unusually smart: he once used his teeth to untie the slip knots in his and my mare Circe’s halters allowing them both to escape. And yeah, we were in for a bit of a walk, and we found them back with the other horses.

The word “kriya” in Sanskrit means “action.” When sitting in meditation, your body sometimes “moves with inadvertent, uncontrollable movements” created by the energy of kundalini moving through your body. A fitting name for my horse who was nothing less than magnificent to watch as he moved through tall grass in a meadow, his tail lifted as he pranced, his muscles drum tight, an almost-regal Arabian face. The essence of uncontrolled movement. His long black mane, a warning flag to other horses who might imagine they were the lead stallion here. And this: I was literally thrilled one afternoon to see him for the first time mounting Circe because I assumed that was impossible. Perhaps, one of those times that reminds us that quite anything is possible when you believe it is.

Listen, this is the way miracles work in my life. At one point, my wife and I did not own a car. You don’t really need a car in Aspen, it’s a small town, you can walk everywhere, many people hike daily for hours merely as recreation. We’d sold our truck because we rarely drove it, and a friend wanted to buy it. But then we decided it might be nice to have a 4X4, just in case we wanted to drive up to the cabin in summer, or maybe drive through the mountains to Paonia to buy organic apples to sell in my natural food store, The Pitkin County Grainery.

She wanted to buy a hardtop Toyota Land Cruiser; I wanted a Jeep CJ-5. She won this argument. I had already learned the lesson: “choose your battles.” She won by shrewdly negotiating this option: she offered that if we could find a Jeep with a hard top before we found the Land Cruiser, then OK, we’d go with a Jeep. “Shrewd” because at that time, there were few CJ-5’s with hardtops because Jeep did not produce them with hard tops, and if you wanted one, you had to buy an after-market hardtop. I agreed, knowing how impossible it would be. My only stipulation, whether the Land Cruiser or the Jeep, was that the color be tan or some shade of brown—my color of choice for many things in those days: cars, parkas, eunuch stallions, mares, backpacks, skis, skin.

That evening when we walked back to the store after dinner at The Chart House (killer salad bar), that tan Jeep CJ-5 you see in the photo sporting that after-market hard top was parked directly in front of the Pitkin County Grainery—get this, with a For Sale sign in the window. My wife was more amazed than miffed, and could not deny the weight of a miracle that heavy. We walked over to that Jeep, read the For Sale sign, and could do nothing but lift our palms in the air, glance toward heaven, and laugh right out loud. The Jeep’s owner was eating dinner in the restaurant in my store. We made a deal to buy the Jeep that night without even having a mechanic look it over—providence being providence, gift horses being gift horses.

Is there anyone who wants to tell me something about serendipity?  Apparently, I am serendipity going someplace to happen. Or rather, perhaps I once was when my hair was that long and blonde, when late-morning sun warmed my shoulders at high elevation, when my favorite shoes were cowboy boots, when I drove to my log cabin in a tan CJ-5 (with a hardtop!), when I believed anything was possible, and when I felled a standing-dead Douglas fir and diced it into logs with my Stihl 037 chain saw, without injuring myself or anyone else (do not let anyone tell you chain saws are not scary tools). Cheap advice du jour: never touch a chain saw, go with central heating. And indoor plumbing.

Aspen was a good season—an incredibly sensual state of mind where almost everything felt magical every day—and it lasted a decade, right up until I discovered my wife having an affair with one of my friends, Sanchez—a carpenter and good with his hands, if a little hapless. He once chewed a chunk of skin and bone out of his forehead when his chainsaw hit a burl and bucked straight up out of the piece of scrub oak he was slicing. We had hired Sanchez to install a skylight in our home. He then started sharing his coke and high-end Afghan grass with my wife while I filled the organic bean bins and sold wild flower honey in the store. I guess, one thing led to another.

That may not be a story you want to hear: it harbors little grace—providence being providence. A happy ending does not appear in that story, but does appear a few seasons later in another story, the one where I am back in grad school and dating a lithe and younger freshman coed who is half Mexican with light-brown skin and almond eyes.

But, tell you what: I’ll offer you the first scene of SEASONS: PART III, and you can tell me if you want me to make this a trilogy or leave well enough alone. Or maybe you’d rather hear the one about me in grad school dating almond-eyed Veronica and working as a waiter in a fine-dining restaurant? Or, maybe I should finish writing the one about Varkala, India? Or maybe write the one about the Maldives? So many seasons and different states of mind, so little time.

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SEASONS OF OUR DISCONTENT: PART III might look something like this below if, say, Steven Spielberg made the movie:

_________________________________________

Cue John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulder” here:

 Wide-angle aerial shot of the Roaring Fork Valley, powdered with snow.

Hunting season: not quite winter yet, but snow has fallen.

A herd of elk graze in Hunter Valley

Zoom into the town of Aspen—the rustic brick buildings gleam in golden alpenglow.

SUV’s and lifted pickup trucks with over-size mud&snow tires cruise the narrow streets.

Large and stylish homes molest the natural landscape.

The aroma of money rises with chimney smoke.

There are no beggars in Aspen, but not everyone is rich; some people like me work for a living.

Close-up shot of The Pitkin County Grainery

Zoom in on two long-haired, ex-hippie types wearing down vests and wool shirts sitting on the front porch overlooking the “French-postage-stamp” organic garden

Opening credits start rolling, and voice over begins:

My wife committed adultery the first time in the bed of a Chevy Luv pickup truck—beneath an REI down sleeping bag. She and Sanchez left me sitting in the bar of Aspen’s Hotel Jerome with a double shot of Wild Turkey and half a number of something they called Afghanistan Red. They drove up Castle Creek Valley and pulled off the road near the beaver dams. It was late autumn 1979, when things like this were done in Aspen, Colorado.

Sometimes I try to imagine how they went about it. Maybe they got out to marvel at the night sky from a 10,000-foot elevation; tried to spot a beaver in the creek; felt cold; agreed to slip under the bag (which was good to 30 below); downed some more Turkey, smoked more Red; got hot and took off their parkas; gazed at a sliver of moon, then Venus, then the rest of the cosmos. One thing always seems to lead to another when you’re that high in the Rocky Mountains…..

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IMG_4619

THIS IS FUNNY:

I took all those photos with red borders with my iPhone through a 35mm slide viewer. The images were 35mm size (tiny).  That red thing above is the slide viewer, which I pressed against the window for light, I stuck the iPhone to the slide viewer eyehole, and snapped. I’m glad I figured a way to get these shots in this post–as there is no place in Abu Dhabi that transfers slide film to digital. I am, however, not so proud of the blurry results.

You can view other entries in the DP Photo Challenge here: State of Mind

113 comments

  1. I love this story! Sorry about your wife. Those were the days for that sort of thing, I guess. Small mountain towns and all…
    Did you really live in Weed? You said above Las Cruces. The Weed I know is above Alamogordo. Anyway, I ‘d love to know when that was.
    You have a very interesting life, Mr. Badfish, and you write about it so well. We are all drawn in and riveted.. Please continue! What were you studying in grad school? What happened to your horses? Is your store still there? Did she keep the jeep? What did you do next?
    Wondering
    Mary

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OK, that’s it! The 20 something part of me has definitely fallen, head over heels, for this younger Badfish you write about. No brown skin or almond eyes here, I’m too Irish for that, (my maiden name is Kathleen Kelly!). But jeez, the parallels keep mounting.

    Too much in common to take up space in your comments” section. However, I feel another “Dear Badfish” letter coming on…..

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  3. Geez, Badfish–Part II was definitely worth waiting for. Even though it didn’t turn out like you want things to turn out–all warm and fuzzy. What a writer you are and what a life you have led.

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  4. While I seldom look back, it’s sometimes nice reading about other people doing so.

    Can I take it that you now live in Abu Dhabi, or do you always travel with your slides from the 70s?

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    • HA!! YES, I am in Abu Dhabi. And NO, I do not travel with my slides…I have a gazillion, was taking photos with slide film up until, maybe 2006. But most of my slides, especially the older ones, are in storage just down the street from the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. I brought a few of my favorites on a carousel for a projector.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, “am” living in Abu Dhabi. And just realized all those slides in storage in AZ are probably worthless by now…in all that heat, and time.

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  5. Trilogy? Why stop at only three? Sheesh….I love hearing about other people’s shenanigans. And you write them so entertainingly, so yes, keep going.
    and 35mm with a loup? Really? I’m impressed they came out as well as they did! Love it!
    If this keeps up I might get inspired to write my own stories…..maybe.

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  6. Makes me remember how I felt when I first found out my ex-husband was cheating on me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any Wild Turkey or weed, and I was pregnant with my son.

    Nice muscles, by the way. 😉

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  7. Truly, I enjoy reading everything you write, so write whatever moves you. Selfishly, I’d love to learn more about your “backstory” because you tell it so well. Great solution to the slide problem! And such wonderful pics!

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  8. So trilogy it is..sorry about your wife 😦 that’s tough story to tell, I guess..Maldives would be great but I always enjoy your stories, I am sure any content you write turn out to be fantastic read!

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  9. You haven’t lost your touch. You got quite the “group” of admirers going Badfish. It actually made me sad though. Your story, I mean. Very well written, as always, but having lived and climbed those mountains and knowing those back roads and the town… I could more than visualize… then there were the horses. I remember the horses. Not there but elsewhere. Please keep writing.

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  10. That Dr Seuss quote was incredibly powerful, but then he was alway kind of a guru to me.
    I love how the universe sent you that Jeep (and didn’t send you Ted Bundy). Unfortunately, the universe also sent you your ex, but you have certainly gone on to better things. How sad that your ex missed out on a lifetime of being Mrs Badfish.
    And yes, yes, yes..Seasons 3, The grad schoo gal, Varkala India and the Maldives. Or whatever else comes to mind. You never cease to entertain.

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  11. I’d say start with grad school and Veronica and work up to the Maldives. Just write it all down … you are single-handedly keeping me amused at a most unamusing time! I could use a little of that Afghan Red right about now, but your stories are working just as well.

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    • Lex…you know, I would really like to just sit here and do nothing but write one story after another. I’m wondering now, just why am I not? Good to know the stories are giving you a contact high!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hell’s bells! I’m a fan! I’l read anything you write! Loved this, btw: Sometimes, the world allows you to become fully aware of just how much grace you’ve been given. I sure have found that to be true. You’re a hell of a story teller. Please don’t stop… And yes, the Uintah Mtns. run along the valley over here. We get to the cabin through Evanston, Wyoming.

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    • Wyoming…I almost went to school there once. Big Sky is right, eh. I’m glad you’re along for the ride, but my biggest fear these days is that Big D might get bored with all this nonsense!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Naw. I think he’s kind of curious about blogging, but he sure doesn’t want to hear about girl talk! On the other hand, he likes cowboys. AND he’s got a bigger hat than you! LOL. Actually I told you the wrong mountains. We live in the shadow of the Wasatch mountains here. They run north and south. The Uintahs start over by the Utah Wyoming border, and they are the only mountain range in the US that runs east and west. And that’s where our cabin is. 😀

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          • Seriously, Fish??? ALL water flows downhill! (Toward the Pacific on THIS side of the mountains.) In the sink, counter-clockwise. (Does it flow clock-wise on the OTHER side of the mountains where the water flows downhill toward the Atlantic??? I’ve always wondered about that… 😀 )

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          • HA! Good question. Answer to that is no. But east and west is interesting. Or south. But does any river in the States flow north…like the Nile? However…this is cool…in the Southern Hemisphere, water in the toilet flows in the opposite direction than where you live.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sunrise and sunset, from our house here in the valley? Sunrise over the mountains to the east of us. Sunset over the Great Salt Lake. Is that pertinent information?

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          • Well, if the valley ran north/south, you wouldn’t get sun all day, it would have to climb over the ridge at the horizon, shorter days…is what I was thinking…and at high elevation, you might like a longer day.

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  13. Part 11, YES, then part 111… I’m waiting. I have fallen in love with Kriya your eunuch stallion, what a horse. I could picture him tail up and prancing with that look horses get when they know they have been bad. I think you got the better deal moving on from a marriage and finding your almond-eyed Veronica. I’ve been there and moved on to better pastures, but never regretted time spent as a wife and mother. You have a fascinating story to tell, keep it coming.

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  14. I’m with Calen, write whatever you like Badfish – I’ll read it and enjoy it and all the while think to myself: “He’s is tricky, he’s feisty, and he’s hard to control; he’s fast like the wind and will always run at the head of the pack!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy, well thanks so much for that, and thanks for hanging out here and commenting. But…I’m worried about just what tips you are learning? Some pretty weird stuff going on here, you know.

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  15. Oh I think there are many more posts or chapters to this story – your writing is addictive! I too have a quarter horse gelding who still thinks he’s a mares delight! He’s currently part of a mixed herd so he tires himself out enough that I can still handle him on our trail rides…otherwise it can be a ‘hold on for life’ experience.

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    • HA!! You’re making me jealous. I have a whole storage unit full of my old stuff, and the only thing I can remember in there is my saddle, which I’m sure is ruined by now.
      Sorry to be a metaphoric drug, but so glad you’re here!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve got Billy Joel in a New York state of mind looping around inside my brain. This is my excuse for dipping in and out of your post. My staying power is in doubt these days. I think I’m following the plot… am I meant to, or just enjoy the images? Yeah, I’ll go with that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Surely you know we don’t want, this, that, or another thing. What’s wrong with wanting it all?

    Gotta say, you reek of nostalgia stories, even when you’re writing about something that happened yesterday. You make people want to be you, to be sitting in a rice field, riding a horse, who is that stallion to beat all stallions, to be trekking up or down mountains, or asking someone for an ancient knife, or perhaps riding in a car with Made to find the waterfall of waterfalls…
    They’ll make a musical out of your life in blog, and call it ‘bye, bye, badfish’ when the day comes that you tell us you’re pulling up tent stakes and taking to the road, and maybe you’ll be back, or maybe you won’t. You’ll go down in history books for the way you’ve brought poop into the spotlight.

    I’m thrilled to be here reading again, because you were gone too long.

    Peace out, Dude!

    Fim

    Liked by 3 people

    • HAhahahahaha! God, woman, I love this: “You’ll go down in history books for the way you’ve brought poop into the spotlight.” I actually spewed coffee onto my computer screen! Hope none in the keyboard! AND I am going to have to put that in one of my posts…it’s just too good a line. I’m not sure, however, it’s what I’d like in my obituary!! But OK, maybe. Poop is good. It’s ALL good.
      It’s funny, though, that you say my writing wants people to be me…because that does not happen in real life. Maybe I’m just better in print?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Shoot, too bad you weren’t taking a selfie at that moment! LOL
        Maybe (PUN WARNING) in the END everything goes to poop. 😛
        How do you know that those who have spent time with you haven’t wished they could be you?
        Besides, someone who writes the way you do, comes up with the ideas you do has to pretty much be the way you present yourself in your blog. Just saying.
        Your obit remark reminded me of a movie where this guy who works for The New York Times writing obits, and he gets writer’s block, and ends up going on this weird kind of goose chase with a friend, and finds his way out of the block when he writes the misadventures of his friend as an obituary.

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        • A selfie at that moment would mean I’d have gotten coffee all over my camera and lens and you’d be seeing me through drops of brown coffee run down the frame. Now I think about it, I think I like that idea!
          I think “inside” I’m the guy in the blog, but “outside”…I don’t know, I just can’t quite coordinate with the inside when I’m with people. I feel more like me when I’m alone. Also, I tend to talk to myself. I’m a good friend to me.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You’re not alone on that being more yourself when you’re alone, and I’ve been talking to myself for ever… who else is going to listen to me? Not to mention I may be the only one who understands me.
            We’re all different in public than we are at home, and even more so, when we alone. Though Mr. Quantum gets the unabridged me. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t be arrested for who I am when alone, were I to take it to the streets. But I also don’t think I COULD take it to the streets. There’s a lot of self consciousness going on. Though, I do admit, that I make decisions to NOT do certain things people want me to do, but only when I’ve walked out of the office and give them the finger, when I’m out of sight. Keeping up appearances, isn’t that what you’re talking about? Putting your best face forward. And why? Because, in part it’s conditioning, and it tends to keep the status quo. I think I’m pretty easy to get along with, but if someone pisses me off, I just walk away. I don’t need to waste my time on that.
            *looks up at what I wrote* Who is that masked woman?

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          • yeah, I’m pretty sure people might want me arrested, or at least hogtied, for things I might say in the shower. But like they say—what happens in the shower stays in the shower.

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  18. Fantastic again…like so many other readers here, I can’t wait to read more…your writing the novel I want to read but can’t find, your stories captivate me so please keep it coming. I find myself reading more blogs these days than writing…I have got to get back to work!

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  19. Oh. My.

    This is very Americana Woodstock in some ways.

    It left me speechless.

    Sorry about the wife.

    [My slides (thousands) from my travels are in carousels in a closet. I hope the don’t disintegrate before I finally scan them with the gizmo I bought. I haven’t viewed them in decades so some poor slob will either throw them out or have a real laugh, some day.]

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    • Wait. Wait. Let me get this right…Beth is speechless, nothing to say? What’s wrong with THAT picture is all I can say. But thanks for the compliment…coming from you it’s huge!
      Slides…carousels…in closet. YUP. I have one carousel with me from old times. And then slides from 2001 till 2006 when I converted to digital. I just bought a HP scanner that also scans slides, haven’t opened the box, don’t know how well it’ll work, or if I’ll ever get around to scanning.

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  20. You had me at hello…. you can’t stop now. I returned for part 2 and so part 3 is right around the corner… right? oh, wait… right around the next wave …right, badfish! ??
    I love listening to people tell their story and you do it well!
    And you know Clare! I follow Clare as we were in WordPress Blogiversity 101 together! WAIT?! were you there toooooooooooooooooo??

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    • Nancy…right…right around the next “wave” or next tide pool, eh! You know, I think I like listening to people’s stories, too. I think I like real life stories more than fiction for some reason. Fiction is cool. But real life…well, it’s life!
      Blogiversity: I did it last year, last January, 2015. When did you do it? I can’t ever remember where or how I meet people on blogs. After a while, things just mesh together into one huge jumble of friendship.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Bitter sweet, Badfish – but as you’ve said, you’ve moved on to better things 😀
    I read whatever you write – you’re very talented indeed! Looking forward to the next dose…

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  22. Fabulous read again Badfish. I wish it was happier, but like you say…its all good in the end. No avoiding part three now I guess. Don’t worry we’ll be generous and give you time to recover from your whirlwind trip across four countries. Have fun 🙂

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  23. “Tan or some shade of brown—my color of choice for many things in those days: cars, parkas, eunuch stallions, mares, backpacks, skis, skin.” Right! I keep waiting for part 2 and in the meantime you have three new posts out. You’re a ninja, in a shit-coloured jeep. 😀 Also, by now you have stopped imagining things like that about the pair of them, correct? It doesn’t make for happy fish.

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