Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pointed Thoughts - Things that go Bump in the Night

I have a gal friend that I go to dinner and the movies with  a few times a year when her husband is out of town on business, as her house is pretty quiet, kids grown.  We pick a little restaurant, then a movie, alternating who gets to pick.  Usually we pick something we both like, but when the last Twilight movie came out, she wanted to go see it, not having read the books, just to see what all the fuss was all about.

You've seen Mystery Science Theater? That was us, not seated by anyone, making jokes about most every scene. I've not laughed so hard at a movie in ages (and it's not a comedy). When the werewolves appeared in wolf form, their lips moving and talking in English, I couldn't help but mimic Duke (probably a bit too loud) from the Bush Baked Beans commercial "roll that beautiful bean footage".

And it went downhill from there.
I am not sure what was more silly, vampires with abs, or werewolves with pecs (all of whom Chuck Norris's Mom could take). Also, if your clothes are destroyed when you instantly transform into a wolf, how is it you are still in your pants and T-shirt when you reappear as human? (I asked a similar question about pants and the Incredible Hulk to my Mom and she just said "they, uh, they were stretchy)

It was easy to tell the vampires and werewolves apart. The vampires were all overly groomed metrosexuals and society women with occassional upper crust voice inflections living in giant glassed houses (you know, since vampires like sunlight so much). The werewolves were of Native Indian descent, living in extremely modest homes of the working class.

There were quite a few tears in the audience as the epic love story (snort) played out across the screen. We had tears on our faces as well, but from laughing so hard. We found it humorous, not just due to bored looking stars who had the range of emotion of an Irish Setter, the storyline that moved in knots and the bad dialogue, but the whole romantic concept of life and death that is so unlike reality as to forever skew in some 13 year old's mind what they will expect from love and life among mere mortals.
I thought of such things one night time I was out in open ground.  The woods were chilly from a passing cold front, the air violent and raw, leaves and remnants of blossoms having flung themselves down with one last rush of motion. The fieldswere littered with fallen branches and the footprints of invisible deer.

At the base of one tree, was the trunk of another, felled during a storm, where I could stop to sit and think. I've spent more than one day or night out on the ground. As kids we'd sleep in the yard on starry nights, dragging out the little pup tent and setting it up under the canopy of the apple tree. We'd lie on our backs in our sleeping bags, tracking satellites through the air and speculating on the nature of the heavens and why the plain Hershey bar was just better than the one with nuts in it. We were kids, and there were no worries, about elections or taxes or bears or the future. We'd wake, ground cold and soggy with dew, and hike back those 10 yards to the house, bleary eyed from lack of sleep yet energized with the joy of believing that we would live forever.
But we grow up, and our concept of what is lasting changes forever, I think, my shadow small against the mighty form of the tree. There is comfort in my smallness, for I am stricken by the thought of the tremendous history of this tree, mighty roots as old as this land, knitting themselves to the earth, embracing the soil with firm resolution not to be parted from it without great force.

I'm not the first person to pass here, in the ruins of an old farmhouse, the remains of a chimney, choked by plants that search out implicit ghosts. People were born here, people likely died here, only a chimney remaining, no house to warm.

Then, a few yards away from the farm house, the bones of a small animal, a raccoon it looked like. How long had it lay here? Long enough for the bones to bleach to soft white, the flesh now part of the earth, the eyes, silent spheres of history. The shape was benign as if the creature simply stopped quietly and ceased to breathe, unlike other bones one finds in the wild, the animals of the tar pits, trapped in the primordial ooze in the posture of shock. Other animals dropped while running, the bones scattered by predators til the remaining pieces are simply laid out in a question mark.
It only takes a few days for an animal to decompose during the summer months, likely when this creature took its last breath. Only a few days to return to bone, to the simplest components of life, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur. Only bones left, pressing into the soft welcoming earth, the soil a rich bed of late summer.

Sometimes all I find are bones, laid bare to the elements, or burned clean. With the right temperature all things will burn, yet bone itself stubbornly resists all but the hottest of fires. Even when all the carbon is burned from it, bone will still retain it's shape. An insubstantial ghost of itself, it crumbles easily, the last bastion of the person's being transformed into ash. Yet in that ash remain large pieces, calcined and with the consistency of pumice, yet when held in the hand, almost seeming to posses a trace of warmth from within their core.
Life is not some paranormal landscape where the men are mysterious, live forever and would rather watch you sleep than watch sports or Mythbusters.  Real women aren't physically perfect and the ones to admire don't give up their life and their self to be with a guy just because he's "hot". That's a premise for an insecure person's fantasy. We're born, we die. In between we live and we'll love as hard as we can, until the day comes when our bones, as well, become part of the rough skin of the planet, as time settles into itself, as we're remembered like the smell of woodsmoke, sprinkling ash upon the cradle in which we will all sleep.

As a young woman, I read books that would be considered fantasy when compared to my life, but the heroes were the explorers of space and time and science was the only poetry, forming order out of chaos. It was a world I could only dream of at that age, but it was a world I could actually witness and one in which I would spend my life to pursue.

I pick up one of the bones from the ground , and my mind goes into it's usual thought process. For even if they have no voice, sometimes what they say proffers a clue. Who was this divined creature? In what manner of violence was their end? It's a world few wish to visit, yet it drives me, the mystery, the puzzle, perhaps because I realize that the final mystery is ourselves.
The use of physical evidence to build a theoretical model of crime or accident involves a number of sciences, the chemistry of death, and the engineering of the body. Out of habit, I stop and survey the scene, making mental notes in my head. How long had it been laying here? Bones, especially ones that have burned, do not give up a time of death. For that you need to trace the extent of decomposition in volatile fatty acids, in muscle proteins and amino acids, all which are normally destroyed in a hot fire. Even today my brain sifts through ideas, time lines and theory based on simple white bone. I pry a bone from the soil, the blade's cold, sharp whisper drawing out that which may be hidden but is not afraid to speak.

For it can tell me a story.

I do not live in some romantic fantasy of mortality, for I walk among the dead, treading carefully on the small broken artifacts of life, part pathology, part engineering, going beyond either. For after the mechanics of motion have stopped, after human physiology has broken down, and what once was animated life, a heart that loved, a soul that dreamed, is reduced to flesh or ash, decay or dried bone, the dead will still bear witness. As sanguine angels in cold marble muse, so will I, long after that which is of the earth is returned to it.
The bones tell me no stories today that I do not know, branches above moving above like a priests hands over the cup, moving with that defining gesture of nature's absolution. What's formed of earth returns to it, amidst the dying brass, lying softly vanquished, there in the juncture of faith and death.

Leaning against the trees, drops of rain splashing off mighty stone and wood, the secret whisper of wind invisible to me and silent. Truly, would most of us wish to live on this earth immortal? Would we find the beauty in anything if we lived forever? Would the gems of thoughts and feelings and desire be so precious if we knew they would always be upon our shelf? Or would they fall to the earth, trickling through our hands like water, evaporating on the cold ground, because we thought our hold on them was eternal.

So I'll pass on the whole paranormal romance think, preferring to hold onto that which may not be immortal, but which is so real and so rare, to be held close and savored in the time that remains.

15 comments:

  1. Although you are much more experienced in these matters I always choose this verse in such matters: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

    Thanks for another wonderful post.

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  2. My garden lies on either side of our spring and in one part of the garden near the spring, I plow up stone spear points. I think about these people who were there a thousand years ago. They hunted and slept where we live and drank the same water. The water really connects me to them, it is really good water and they made a point of coming there to drink from the same hole in the ground. There are no bones other than modern ones but the water is special it is a special place.

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  3. Glad to hear I'm not alone in laughing at a Twilight movie,
    And wondering how they had clothes when they morphed back to human form.

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  4. That stag coffin-handled Bowie is handsome. Nice match for the revolver.

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  5. I like 'classic' vampires, werewolves and zombies because the films are old (pre 1960).
    But, I'm not fond of all these modern incarnations of same. (the one exception being Frank Langella- just because I like him...)

    On a more serious bent, what Keads said...
    And Thank You.

    gfa

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  6. So, no heaven? No hell? No angels, demons, nephilim? Science has collapsed in truth, and is no more real than the werewolves, possibly less so if you believe in nephilim. It isn't even seeking the truth anymore. Check several recent studies by companies which have tried to use science, to capitalize on studies. The fail rate is in the 90% range. Stylized as monsters are, as someone who has seen disorder, you know those are as real as anything else, even if just living in the hearts of men.

    I'll grant, the movie you saw was... well... bland, typical, and poorly done. Most are. But look at it's target demographics and understand. That one was aimed at teen girls who have little chance at finding real love, let alone becoming married mothers, in this modern scientific world. Often themselves from the chaos of single parent homes. A hopeless movie for hopeless girls in a seemingly hopeless world.

    Kids don't know the pledge of allegiance, or why to say it. They don't know more than of some God. They don't see God in their lives, truth in their schools, or fairness anywhere, or even attempts at it. Can't blame them. I do blame the hubris of science, abandoning wisdom for reason and losing both.

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  7. I know many people who laughed at Twilight myself included, but I take great exception with you on the idea the plain Hershey bars are better than Hershey Bars with Almonds which quite frankly are superior in every way :D

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  8. The howl rolls across the prairie, the imagination kicks in. From what corner of the mind does the howl tickle. The fantasy of fiction opens into the depths of the soul, freedom to travel with no boundaries. To create the journey of the mind, let it roam unfettered is a gift few have. Yet I love reading them. My attempt to recreate their words into a local genre is feeble but I try.

    Have a great weekend

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  9. Thank you for the beautiful words!!!

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  10. Keads - you are welcome.

    Sunnybrook Farm - that just gave me a shiver, and in a good way, what a wonderful telling of how we live, and how others lived. Thank you.

    Borepatch - Ha!

    Brighid - I never did buy Mom's "stretchy" explanation of the Incredible Hulk's pants.

    Bob - it's beautiful, belongs to a friend who allowed me a chance with it's visage for the post.

    armedlaughing - the classics indeed (but I still think that should include Young Frankenstein)

    immagikman - not when you were the kid in braces and the little pieces of almond got stuck in there, and you drew blood trying to get them out :-)

    Doom - not all scientists abandon God, I think you've read me long enough to know that. Thank you for your thoughts and for taking the time to share them.

    john bords - your words are always meaningful, and beautiful.

    Old NFO - Thanks.

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  11. Don't take offense, if the shoe doesn't fit. However, as a scientist, you know you are... not fully welcome in that circle. Yes, I do respect real science, and honest even agnostic scientists, and the search for truth, in all it's forms. I just hesitate with much of it these days.

    I apologize, honestly, if offense was taken, as it honestly could have been.

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  12. OW! This hurts! "bored looking stars who had the range of emotion of an Irish Setter".

    Best dog we ever had was Katy, our beautiful, loving and playful Irish Setter. She wad the reason my son decided he wanted to be a vet. We miss her still.

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  13. 40+ years on and I am still puzzling over how and why the neutered Hershey's is better that the nutted ones but I have 2 of the regular ones in the freezer and will continue my my research.

    The Twilight nonsense has been a good litmus test for me to use though. They like the movies? Might as well move along...

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  14. I'm thinking more the emotion of a garter snake.
    One time my brother and a friend saw some newly released movie, I forget what the name was, but it was so terrible the plot was not merely telegraphed, but pre-announced with one of those 1930's radio trucks. They were ragging on the movie, saying things like "oh, and now he's going to __", when, after one such prediction too many, the guy in the row ahead of them turned and complained, "hey, if you've seen this movie before, just shut up about it!"

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