The Boy Scout Cabin
by David Eide .

Thinking back to the old boy scout days and how we'd backpack into the Sierra's and spend a week or two at a pristine, isolated, alpine lake. It would be very cold at night and the trick was to keep your clothes with you in the sleeping bag to keep snug and cozy. Anything exposed would get very cold. In the morning you stood up, kept the sleeping bag around you, got your clothes on and then went outside and urinated into the old smoldering fire pit. If you were the first you tried to get a fire going.

Once we went up to the Tahoe area and stayed in a rustic place, like something they had at Auschwitz, with wooden bunks piled four high, a pot bellied stove in the middle, a long wooden table to eat on. The scout masters were old military men and were very macho or played that way. Two of them nearly came to blows in this lodge and had to be separated and one scout suggested they arm wrestle instead. So the contest was put into action. We stood all around the long table as the two men squared off. One was tall and very severe looking who I found out later was a corporal in the Marines and the other guy was friendly, rotund Mr. Dunlop who I knew and was fond of. He had started the scout troop. He owned a farm up in the surrounding hills and the place smelled of animal shit. Once I went into their garage and was startled to see rows of rabbits swaying from the rafters, some of them skinned. The Dunlops seemed non-plussed about it. I was always happy to go up there because we rode a horse once in a while.

They wrestled hard on the table with the young scouts whooping and hollering. Almost everyone was for the kind Mr. Dunlop and it seemed he was going to win but, over time, the long arms gave the Marine more leverage and he methodically pinned the arm down of the beloved leader. After that there was silence, a kind of embarrassment. Poor Mr. Dunlop was humiliated and never quite the same. The Marine did not strut but was like some men are after sex; expressionless but with a hint of a smile under the surface and bristling.

Our favorite sport at the cabin was "snow fishing." We'd take a string and put a small ball of tape at the end of it then lower the string from the top bunk, out the window and to the snow on the ground. The idea was to get the biggest ball of snow you could on the string. A few of the scouts had the knack and could get large balls of snow. I usually came up with little or no snow. I wasn't all that interested in the game and preferred getting into snow ball fights with rival troops in the area. Bad guys would slip a rock into their snowball and we took umbrage at that and either ran for the cabin or cussed them from a distance.

Simple memories like that makes me take pity for the modern world, buried as it is in layers of scud it will never dig itself out from. It must dance its fandango of madness until everything is laid waste I suppose. My role isn't to criticize it. It criticizes itself all the time. It is to capture it, know it as well as I can, and then project back the very truth and values that support the truth; all with a smile.

You begin with the elements. You stand in a circle of oak trees and look at the stars of a cold night. This is all that is. And if they are simply physical radiance or the appearance of the physical, their physicalness appears likely to have life tucked in and among its crevices. And with the grace of God we can expand through the physical universe and know it. We can experience the physical dimensions of time but we can't know them. It is one of the problems of life. We know but we do not.

And anywhere we look nature reminds us that form is both stern and flexible; absolutely conditioned and infinite in variety. Even the names and classifications we have don't take away the splendor of this treasure.

And the human beings and the growth and development of them. Passing, passing noisily from one generation to the next, now through wars, now through tyrannies, now through masses, now through inventions, now through poverty, now through wealth. Now with slaves, now with machines.

And we laugh because we realize human nature does not change. And yet it is all we have.

Great fear and great ambitions in the same people!

We see much and know little, that is the epitaph for our time.

The poetic imagination goes where it's told not to go. It goes where the human spirit is lively and daring. It goes to the selfless act that prepares for the future. It peels off so much in time and becomes, often, a heat-seeking missile through cities of the mind.

The poetic consciousness seeks all time for its complementary self. And below that rages the world he knows too well.

Below that is the traffic. Below that are the people and their minor sins they will gloat about to whomever will listen. Below that are rods of the living with glass and endless rooms, rooms into hallways and more rooms. Below are the made things blue and black. Below are the clean and efficient machines. Below are the old fountains dying in the sulphuric days. Below are the fields of wheat and old men in the sun pissing slowly into the old Earth. Below are the crazy beliefs driving people through the crazy streets. Below it rolls on a lit up planet, now dark, now a scintilla waiting some long death, the profound enfolding. It happens at least once.


Back to Essay Page

Back to davideide.com

© 2016 David Eide. All rights reserved.