Country Mouse City Mouse. I’ve always remembered that book from when I was a child. And now, I can recall only images more than storyline, the country mouse holding on to blinds so a vacuum cleaner won’t suck it up. The city mouse sitting oddly and bored in the hollow of a tree. Yet every time I spend time in either place I sympathize with both of the mice and realize that perhaps that’s my human complication, I encompass so many things and places and experiences and need them all.
We clearly have a bunch of stuff going for us, what with speech and books and philosophy. And then there was the whole inventing of tools then machinery then the soup can and then Andy Warhol, and then a host of other things like Italian films on the leisure class and R. Crumb documentaries.
What I like about heading up to Vermont in August for what is now becoming a traditional tour stop, is staring at rocks. Huge rocks where I can see the strata and all its intrusions and cataclysms. Patterns upon patterns of violent change that hold no emotions. I harbor a desire sometimes to be a chunk of granite.
In a vintage motorboat that my friend somehow acquired (he’s got a gift for being this kind of unofficial mayor of Burlington so I guess with this job comes peculiar gifts) we headed out into the center of Lake Champlain. The rocks on the beach started turning into an encampment of gray tents and the mountains in the distance became more like gauzy ebbing waves of smoky greenish blacks. The trail of the sun was silvery and we followed it as gracefully as a 40-year-old boat can and finally cut the motor in some estimated center spot. There was not much noise out there but for the occasional other boat and us talking and my head whirring.
What an odd creature I felt like in my skin and bones and guts out there. It’s the first time in awhile I’d felt such abandon and yet still I was aware. As a lover of song and stories and details how hard it is to totally pack up and jump the ship that is my brain. We gathered back into the vessel and our captain put on a 1950’s compilation cassette on in what looked like a Walkman without headphones. The songs bubbled out of the little speaker. Songs of the love,loss, and dreams. We drank from a single bottle of wine passed around. I borrowed a bathing suit for the occasion while some gentlemen rolled up their pants. Our captain had spray painted the boat with fleur de lei stencils and a handmade patchwork flag that said “GO!” in colored duck tape snapped in the breeze. Aaahhhh, this is our own kind of leisure class. What do we call it? Money deficient but able to use creativity as buoys, anchors, and sails. We shall make things out of nothings or other somethings and bring them to life. We are, after all, humans and not rocks.