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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Recluse


The other day, while mindlessly watching our puppy mindlessly destroy a paper grocery bag, it occurred to me how difficult it has become to become a recluse today.
I remembered my childhood, and the notion of becoming a recluse (not to be confused with a hermit, which was a totally different matter. I don't know what the difference was; it just was) had a certain level of attractiveness.
For one, there would be no parents constantly sneaking around trying to see what you are doing. Do you have any idea just how unnerving it is, while in the midst of a complex pyrotechnic experiment , to have one's Mother begin screaming and jumping around? It completely destroys the entire scientific mood when a woman is dashing about as if being pursued by a swarm of wasps.
One would not worry about eating green yucky stuff, either. No self respecting recluse would be caught dead with a plate full of broccoli and Brussels sprouts. As far a split pea soup.... it would be no where in the vicinity of a recluse's cabin. I am not certain just what a recluse would partake of; all I knew was there was no yucky green vegetable stuff around. Probably, one would exist quite nicely on Cracker Jacks, Twinkies, and hot dogs. Toss in the occasional bowl of Frosted Flakes for extra vitamins and minerals, and all is good. Of course, copious amounts of sugar laden red Kool Aid would be required to wash it all down.
Of course, a recluse's cabin would be so far back in the woods one could see the edge of Nowhere from it. Access would be a fairly overgrown two wheel track, insurmountable to anything except a horse, old Army jeep, or a farm tractor. The snug, cozy structure would consist of a few rooms; one for cooking and eating, one for sleeping, one for goofing around in, and a bathroom. With the latest in plumbing and hot water. Even a recluse would stop shy of taking a cold shower; that is simply uncivilized. Naturally, the goofing around room would have a big Zenith black and white TV, with a big antenna mounted to a tree. On good days, one could watch the same programs from a Buffalo NY station as were being broadcast by the Cleveland, OH station. But, the novelty of watching TV from two states away was nearly intoxicating.
In Summer, I would sit on my porch, strumming my guitar, or cleaning my rifle, or both while watching the corn I had planted grow. Hey... corn is YELLOW, not green, therefore it is okay.
In Fall, I would sit on my porch, strumming my guitar, or cleaning my rifle, or both, while watching the leaves cascade down in a kaleidoscope of color. I would take note of the relative small size of the wood pile.
In Winter, I would gaze with a 3,000 yard stare at the frozen, white wilderness in which I had become imprisoned. I watch as blowing snow obscures anything more than five feet away from view. In a move toward self preservation, I had long ago locked up the rifle, hidden the key, and buried the ammunition under the far end of the wood pile. I contemplate burning the guitar, rather than go out in the storm for a few measly sticks of wood.
The TV does not receive anything, as the big antenna had come crashing down during an ice storm.
I begin to count the nail-heads in the walls, for the 14th time that day.
In Spring, I would sit inside, staring out the window watching the rains turn everything into an impassible sea of mud colored gumbo. I had broken a string on the guitar from strumming so much, and the rains have kept me from going to town. I feel just the slightest bit of irritability while contemplating another meal of Cracker Jacks and Twinkies.

These seeming privations were mere trifles when weighed against the total freedom, lack of responsibility and  worry the life of a recluse would provide. Just think... no junk mail, no annoying telemarketers, no spam e-mail. No one encroaching upon your time, no obligations other than eating and sleeping. If you wanted to saddle up and ride Ol' Paint to town for a visit, that would be fine. Finding a proper hitching spot in front of the Super Wal-Mart may be a challenge; but you could do it.
If you wanted to sleep outdoors on a balmy Summer night, no one would inquire as to your mental state.

If you wanted to spend the day fishing the cool, clear tumbling river flowing just within 100 yards of your door, well, why not?

And, if you heard the sound of a Jeep in four-wheel low grinding along the trail; you could decide whether to be hospitable, or just go hide back in the trees.
I was just peering through the green leaves of the fruit laden blackberry bush, watching the occupants of the Jeep head back down the trail when the raucous motorcycle sound from my phone (geez.. I wish I could figure out how to get rid of that!) brought me back to reality.
The puppy had reduced the grocery bag to scores of tiny pieces. A “news alert” was informing me that a highway 40 miles away was closed due to an accident. My computer was informing me that I have mail. I returned the phone to my pocket, knowing the GPS function within it's little plastic body can allow just about anyone with minimal hacking skills know I am sitting at my kitchen table.

At least one can still be a recluse in one's imagination.
For now.

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