Spring day on Wolf Mountain

Sunday I spent some solitary time on Wolf Mountain. It was just a few days after the equinox, and I generally try to get a day of solitude around each turn of the seasons.  Wolf Mountain is a favorite place to go for spring.

It’s not really an impressive mountain.  It only rises about 200 feet from the lands below, and the trail makes a very gradual ascent.  It’s set in the karst topography of the Central Texas Hill Country, so it’s arid and rocky, mostly covered by oak and juniper, and cut by a few perennial creeks that make short sharp dashes down to the Pedernales River.

Wolf Mountain is the high point of Pedernales Falls State Park, about 40 miles west of Austin off U.S. Hwy 290.  You drive through Dripping Springs and Henly on the way. When I say it’s off 290, I mean turn north onto Ranch Road 3232 and drive seven miles to the entrance.  Then drive a couple more miles to the ranger station.

The trailhead for Wolf Mountain Trail is about a quarter mile from the ranger station, and it has it’s own little parking lot. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve parked there and hiked that trail.  Often I hiked it alone, but sometimes I hiked it with my father or my brother or both.

Wolf Mountain Trail is a loop of somewhere between six and eight miles, depending on which reference you’re reading.  It used to be just a foot trail, maybe an old cattle trail, until about 20 years ago, when someone got injured on the mountain. After that the parks department laid down an ambulance-wide gravel roadbed.

I love to hike the trail in the spring, not so much in the summer.  There is a fairly level stretch of maybe a mile, just past Regal Creek, that is swarming with horseflies in the summer.  They are mean, and they are tough.  Walk along that trail with sweat running down inside your shirt, and they will attack you.  The times I’ve hiked along there in the summer, I would hold a red bandanna by the corner, shake it out, and switch it across my back constantly, the way a horse switches his tail across his back.

If you slap one of those horseflies and he falls to the ground, step on him.  Otherwise he will shake himself off, buzz away, and then head right back at you.

Just after you cross Mescal Creek, on the shoulder of the mountain, the primitive campgrounds are laid along the bluff overlooking the creek and the river.  It’s beautiful in there.

My Daddy and I had a favorite campsite in there under a sort of vaulted ceiling formed by the tree canopy.  Just a few steps away a rock ledge overlooked the creek and gave a western exposure.  After supper we would sit out on that rock ledge, which we called the veranda, and watch the sun go down over the far ridge.

A steep scramble below the veranda, Mescal Creek forms a beautiful little blue pool.  In wet times, it’s deep enough to come up to your chin, and broad enough for a stroke or two.  It will keep a can of beer fairly cold.

I remember one winter night I was camping there by myself.  It was pretty cold after dark, but I didn’t want to crawl into the tent at 7 pm, so I bundled up and sat on the dirt against a big tree.  I hung my lantern on a twig above my head.  The lantern made a circle of light around me that stretched out about ten feet across the dirt.

Just outside the lantern light various critters, bugs mostly, came to take a look.  I noticed a good-sized scorpion, stinger curled up over his back, come right up to the edge of the light and just stay.  I don’t know if he was looking at me, but he was aimed right at me. He stayed still for a couple of hours. I was writing in my journal, but I don’t mind saying that scorpion affected my concentration.  I lost track of my thoughts a time or two, but I never lost track of where that scorpion was.  Eventually, he left.  I didn’t ask him where he was going.

Not far past the primitive campground, the trail forks, the left fork going around by the river bluff and Jones Springs, and the right fork going directly up the mountain.  The trail doesn’t go to the peak, but forms a circle around it, with the direct fork coming in on one side and the Jones Springs fork coming in on the opposite side.  The first time we hiked that loop, Daddy and I must have circled at least twice before we realized what we were doing and burst out laughing.  Now there’s a sign pointing to the parking lot, so that foolishness has been solved.

The loop there around the peak is where I went to cry after my father died.  Last Sunday I sat in the spot and ate a sandwich and wrote a few rough lines of poetry.  I still have more work to do on that.

The sky had been overcast when I started up the mountain, but when I arrived there on the upper loop, the blue was breaking through.  There’s a ridge to the west, but to the north, where the trail meanders down, the rough beauty of the Hill Country landscape rolls out toward the horizon.

Circe, a goddess in context

I read Circe, by Madeline Miller.  It’s good.  I also read Miller’s previous book, Song of Achilles.  It’s good, too.

I found both books browsing in Bookpeople.  I was studying the tables of new and popular books when I found them.  I had just finished rereading the Odyssey, so Song of Achillescaught my eye.  I picked it up, read the back cover copy, and put it back down.  Then, I saw Circe. Hmm.  I picked it up and read the back cover.  Okay.  I held onto it.  It took me several minutes to find Song of Achilles again, but I did.  I bought them both.

These are the only two novels Miller has written so far.  I don’t know if she is going to keep mining this vein of Greek mythology. I hope so.

Just to review, Greek mythology was created or at least told by the oral poets of ancient Greece beginning about 3,800 years ago, during the Bronze Age.  The Greek poet Homer wrote the Iliadabout the Trojan War, which was said to occur about 3200 years ago.  Achilles was a hero of the Iliad.  Homer wrote the Odyssey, about the heroic voyages of Odysseus after the war.  Circe was a goddess who played a role in the Odyssey.

My eye fell on the Odysseylate one night when I was perusing my bookshelves for something to read.  It was right next to the Iliad.  I don’t think I’ve read either one since my twenties.  I’ve kept them all these years, just for that night.

To be a good student, I should have picked up the Iliad first, since it comes first in the story.  But, I really didn’t want to read a war story.  I wanted to read the Odyssey,the story about a worthy man buffeted by the gods and the elements and weak companions, true to his journey, determined to reach his goal.  That’s sort of how I’m feeling, these days.

It’s a fantastic adventure story.  It begins at the end of the Trojan War, with the victorious Greeks making sail for home.  Odysseus has already been away from home for ten years fighting that war.  Because he has angered certain of the gods, he is doomed to wander for another ten years on the wine-dark sea, buffeted by tempests and emboldened by rosy-fingered dawns.  He encounters incredible monsters, seductive temptresses, mortal dangers, and sumptuous banquets.

Circe is a goddess and a sorceress, living on an island in the wine-dark sea.  Odysseus lands his craft on the shore and sends his crewmembers to scout the land.  They offend Circe, who turns them all into pigs and corrals them.  Soon after Odysseus comes to her house.  He beguiles her, and she resolves to keep him as the object of her love.  She keeps him for a year, and at last sets him free to resume his voyages.

Just as Circe is only one episode in the story of Odysseus, Odysseus is only one episode in the story of Circe.  She was a shy child who adored her father, Helios.  She grew up knowing the rivalry between the Titans, her kin, and the Olympians, who arose to dominate the Titans.   She loved a mortal and was betrayed.  She learned the magic in herbs, and learned the spells cast by words of power.   For disobedience, her father exiled her to solitude on an island.

Her solitude was often interrupted by Hermes the messenger, and by voyagers who found their way to her shore.  It was an assault by sailors that prompted her to begin casting the spell to turn them to pigs.  So the centuries passed.

Then Odysseus came, and she held him, and she let him go.  Then she found love.  She freed herself from exile and began life anew.

These ancient texts carry fundamental meanings, or so we believe.  For comparison, the Mahabharata, containing the Bhagavad Gita, is about 2800 years old.  The Torah, comprising the earliest books of the Bible, is about 2600 years old.

In Circe, Miller does a good job of relating this ancient text to the present day.  Her prose is excellent, and her storytelling is rich and believable.  We believe in Circe from the first sentence to the last. What is her story?  She grows up as a meek girl among powerful beings, yet she contains an inner strength.  Those around her disrespect her, and for her inner strength she is exiled.  In exile, she grows into her own power, and finally, she finds what life means to her.  She finds real happiness.

 

 

 

 

File rollover report

You’re probably wondering how things are going with the file rollover.  Well, pretty good, I’d say.  The file box is stashed back in the storage closet.  Fresh new hanging folders are ready for this year’s files. And my writing table is clear again. There is still a small basket of hard-to-classify papers awaiting future action.  But, all in all, I’d say the paper file rollover is a success.

As expected, going through the files brought back memories.  Some made me smile, and some made me melancholy.

I haven’t started yet on the digital file rollover.  You wouldn’t think so, but for some reason, that’s always harder.  I’ll let you know.

Intelligence man

What was Andrew McCabe thinking?  He went on CBS “60 Minutes” and said that when he was acting FBI director he discussed with the deputy attorney general the option of removing Trump from office.  Did he think there wouldn’t be consequences?

He did know it’s not a felony to say ‘no comment’ to a newscaster, didn’t he?  Does he think just because he’s been fired nothing matters any more?  He says he wanted to protect the Mueller investigation.  I have a really hard time understanding how his interview did that.

I understand why he wondered if Trump should be removed from office.  Many people do.  But when you’re a high government official, that’s something you reveal when the danger is over, not when the suspect is still holding the detonator.

Spring comes early. Be afraid.

What a beautiful day!  It’s a day when everything seems possible.  We are now about one month before the spring equinox, but spring came early.  And that’s frightening.

I woke up at 5, dropped the top on the red roadster, and zipped down to the 24 Diner.  It’s a favorite breakfast spot.  I unfolded the Timesand read while I ate. When I was walking the Town Lake Trail every Sunday, I ate breakfast at the Diner every Sunday.  That was when I was writing Benchmarks (Year of Sundays).  I finished my coffee and left the Diner.

I reached the trail in the predawn light.  I started walking west, and made it to Lou Neff Point just at the critical moment. There were already a couple of sunrise lovers there before me.  I watched as the golden torch rose, sent bright rays careening through downtown towers, smeared syrupy light down the lake, and spread color across the sky. Inspiring.

I kept walking west.  On the Crenshaw Bridge I did a little more sungazing, then crossed to the north side and headed east.  There was a marathon going on.  Good for them.  I saw an old friend.  (Why didn’t I take a picture?)  The air warmed up, and I took off my jacket.  At the Pfluger Bridge I walked up to the street and the red roadster.

At home, I opened the blinds and opened the windows.  Let the spring day in!  Then, I clicked up Dvorák’s New World Symphonyand pushed the slider to loud.  I have a lot to do today, and Dvorák always cranks up my energy.

I looked at the Timesfor another minute.  The lead story in Sunday Review is “Time to Panic.”  Subhead is “The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways.  And fear may be the only thing that saves us.” Well, finally, someone said it.

Time to panic!  That deserves an exclamation point.  We’re barreling downhill toward a cliff, picking up speed every minute. Hit the damn brakes!

Most of us know the threat.  The planet is heating up at an alarming rate.  Extremes of weather are rampaging around the world, leaving paths of death and destruction.  The polar ice caps are melting.  Sea level is rising.

Most of us know the cause.  Our production of greenhouse gases is trapping heat that should be escaping into space.

But most of us can’t focus on the enormity of it. The threat has now become immediate. We’re already past the point of no return, if you were thinking of that world that the boomers were born into. We’re past the point of no return if you were thinking of that world that the gen exers were born into.  We’re about to lose forever the world we’re in now.

“The collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” David Attenborough said.  Think about that.  What world are we heading for?  Maybe the one of the Permian, about 250 million years ago.  And do you think 7.7 billion people can survive in that world?  No.

Is this the time for everyone to become a survivalist?  Hardly. Is it the time for everyone to become a conservationist?  Well, sure. But personal conservation is not going to turn this around.

We must hammer our governments into tools to fight climate change.  This is the time for governments around the world to take dramatic action.  This is the time for individuals and societies to be afraid of the real disaster looming, to panic, to demand action.

Well, the symphony has finished, and this early spring day is balmy.  I have other things to do.  Enjoy the day, but don’t forget to be afraid.

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Metamemories rollover

This is the time of year for rolling over the files.  It’s a little late in the season, but I’m working on it.  I’m doing it at the office, and I’m doing it at home.

Paper files stack up in piles waiting to fit into boxes, and electronic files sit on internal hard drives  waiting to be transferred to external hard drives.  And then there are the websites.

My writing table at home is cluttered with file folders, file baskets, and file boxes.  All that has to be cleared away, so that I can work at the table again.

Once I lived in a house with an attic, which seemed like a cavern into which unlimited fileboxes could be loaded.  Now I live in an apartment with a storage closet.  For every new box that goes in, an old box has to come out.

It took a couple of years just to whittle the files down from a huge mass filling the living room to a medium-sized mass filling the storage closet.  Now the whittling is getting harder.  I have a sheet with guidelines on how long to keep files—tax files, bank files and so on.  But at my law office, I have seen cases turn on whether a client could find a document from 20 years ago.

My most important files are not even on the sheet of guidelines.  These are my pictures, letters, manuscripts, and ephemera from the many organizations that I have been a part of, many events I have attended, and many causes I have supported.  I can’t get rid of those.

I’ve been rolling over my websites, too.  This is involuntary, due to yet another break in the line of software I use to create the websites.  The craveylaw.com website is fairly far along in the process.  The robincravey.com website is currently reduced to a single page.  I noticed that taking down that site knocked the supports out from under a lot of the information that formerly came up in an online search of my name.  The tiltedplanetpress.com site is still static, without an update in over a year, just waiting.  I’m getting there.

Creation of this blog site has been something of an admission of defeat, but also a break for daylight.  I had to get something going while all the main sites were rebuilt.  (Why?  Do you have to ask?)  But it is also very liberating to just write something, select a picture, and post it.  Well, there’s  the editing and rewriting.  (Oh, you rewrite?  Yes.)

Once I delighted in page layout.  I stood for hours at slanted layout tables and glowing light tables.  Moving layout to the computer turned it into a sitdown activity.  Assembling carefully cut pieces of paper was reduced to pushing images around a screen.  It’s more powerful, sure.  More efficient, probably.  Electrons don’t grow on trees.

Going through old files, real or virtual, brings back memories of course.  Evaluate the memories.  Which ones are worth saving?

Mammoth Symmetry

Mammoth Symmetry

Mammoth dome began
in deep earth convection
heaving, surging, not emerging
swollen, hardened, buried forever—
not forever.  Patient ancient elements
wore away the over burden, revealed
stone dome in convex symmetry.  Up top I stand
surveying loved landscapes, hearing urgent wind.
Now— Let me shed my overburden.
Let me emerge in symmetry.

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