Good Fences / Good Neighbors?

Good Fences / Good Neighbors?

Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” begins with the line, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”  The “something” may refer to the nature of fields and pastures to shrink and swell as winters come and go; Frost describes upper boulders spilled in the sun following winter’s freeze, gaps in the wall wide enough for two people to walk abreast.  Walls inevitably need mending.  The narrator is also in touch with whatever that something is as he attempts to convince his neighbor that there is little need for a wall to separate their properties:

“He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.”


I’d like to take the time to celebrate the phrase, “Spring is the mischief in me,” and I may come back to it in writing about spring or mischief, but this piece is about fences and neighbors, so I’ll jump to the, “What I was walling in or walling out”.


I like our neighbor, Max, a genial mountain man who now and again comes down from his forested twenty acres in the Applegate River Valley to camp out on the property immediately adjacent to ours.  There is an unincorporated village of Applegate, but Max’s mountain is not near any settlement; his place is above the Big Foot trap line, above Squaw Lake.  He packs in supplies from Ruch, home of the annual paragliding “Rat Race” off Woodrat Mountain, but for the most part makes do with what he finds on the mountain.  As he explains, “It’s not a good idea to get rid of anything because you never know when you’ll need parts to make something else.”

That philosophy has served Max well in the Applegate and has been employed in his flatland property next to ours as well.  I’ve never counted up the number of vehicles in various states of decline on his property; blackberry bramble completely covers some of the older trucks, a moving van, two backhoes, and at least one RV.  It happens that I have a fascination with the jeep utility wagons made by Willys-Overland Motors in the 1950’s; Max has three of them  (maybe four?) lined up just across the wire fence on the eastern end of our pasture.  They are mostly bramble covered now, but I can still see the distinctive Willys grille and think about trying to restore one until I remember what it was like to drive a jeep with no power steering, no power brakes, and the suspension of a Conestoga wagon.  Several mid-70’s Volkswagen sedans (can’t see enough to tell which models) are also almost buried, but a Toyota HiLux pickup truck stands on its nose in a clearing next to Max’s workshop, giving us a landmark by which to guide visitors to our driveway.

“Yeah, if you see a blue truck sticking straight up just on the other side of the fence, you are in the right driveway.”

The truck is visible, as is the salute to entropy that is Max’s property, because a beetle blight killed seven of the cedars that once lined our driveway  and separated the two properties.  We hated to see the trees go, and at the time were not delighted to have a clear view of Max-land, but our dirt and gravel drive is long enough, and curves uphill enough, and time works its magic surely enough, that now we drive past the upright Toyota without giving it a second glance.

This morning we took the dogs off for a long walk, noting that the fence post supporting the gate to the pasture was leaning a bit towards Max’s yard.  We’ve had the snowstorm of the century and a solid week of rain, so we did expect some clean-up when the snow finally melted.  As we turned up the driveway on our return, however, we noticed that the gate was no longer closed.  Three footsteps later we realized that an entire stretch of fencing had been taken out by a falling cedar, fully forty feet tall.  Gate gone, fence gone, forty feet of tree had flattened all in its path from our fence line to the middle of Max’s property.

As I’ve indicated, Max is rarely home as he prefers life on his mountain, but today I found him in his workshop, explained that he now had forty feet of tree to deal with, and asked how he wanted me to proceed, assuming that I’d be calling an arborist and spending a small fortune to bring a crew with specialized equipment to the scene of the disaster.

Nah, Max grabbed a chainsaw and went to work.

When I say chainsaw, I mean the smallest, most delicate saw I had ever seen; this looked like a Fisher Price chainsaw.  Starting at the middle where the girth of the tree was roughly four feet across, Max patiently sliced the tree in half.  It had been a healthy tree, so its roots were both massive and still deep in the hillside; it was not easy to move.  Max fired up his Boss backhoe loader/plow, drove it up our drive into our pasture, tried using the bucket to nudge the roots out of the ground, then attached a chain to the roots and attempted to rock the roots loose.  I had never seen a two thousand pound backhoe lifted off the ground, but, as Max later reminded me, “no job is fun without popping a few wheelies”.

Let me pause for a moment to suggest that a neighbor in need is a neighbor with a two thousand pound backhoe loader/plow.

I was of little (no) use, juggling lengths of chain that snapped when Max attempted to pull the truck of the tree out of its place, but I tried to let Max know how much I appreciated his willingness to dive into this project.  He hopped off the gigantic machine, grabbed his tiny saw and went to work cutting the five foot wide base of the tree so that he had only to pull the weight of the roots rather than the roots and the bottom half of the tree.

I tried to give Max money to cover the cost of gas for his monster backhoe and to compensate him for the time he had spent clearing the corner of our property.

He didn’t want to take it.

“What are neighbors for?” he asked as he punched me in the shoulder.  We’ve seen Max six or seven times in the ten years we’ve had this property.  We wave and have been friendly enough, but we had made up stories about Max, about his cars, about the yard.  Until this morning, I hadn’t spent more than five minutes talking with him.  I truly met him for the first time today, and yet he quickly and generously offered neighborly assistance without being asked.

The neighbor in Frost’s poem suggests that it is distance and separation that allows neighbors to remain civil, but Frost maintains that something there is that doesn’t love walls.

“I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out”

Until the fence went down, we had been walling out a person I am honored to know.  Humbled and grateful, I’ve got it in mind to be a better neighbor.

Uh, 2016?

Uh, 2016?

Remember the Year 2K?  The Millennial anniversary that signaled the end of life as we knew it?  Unless I missed a memo, we ducked the digital meltdown and managed to get on with the familiar triumphs and trials almost as if the calendar was a convenient human invention rather than a playbook for the globe.

Having slipped by that one, we had to contend with December 21, 2012, which, as we knew all too well, was the date identified in the MesoAmerican Long Count Calendar as the start of the New Age.  Scholars steeped in the history of the Mayans assured us that they had found no accounts of doomsday predictions, and that the presumed collision with the planet Nibiru was not imminent.  Equally unlikely, they suggested, was the geomagnetic reversal (polar shift) that would set off an explosion roughly equal to that of one hundred million atomic bombs.

The temptation to catastrophize is always with us, and the events of the past year may, in fact, have consequences that turn out to be not-so-great, but my powers of prediction have turned out to be unreliable, and investment in prophecies that never materialize has not brought me much satisfaction.  All of that now being said, it seems right and proper to take a look at some of the signal events of the past year, not to give them more weight than they deserve, but to remind ourselves of the road we have travelled together.

2016 brought discussion of “fake news” and of viral accounts that were entirely manufactured, particularly those that were disseminated via Facebook.  The two runners-up in this year’s tally of Facebook shares are impressively vivid: ” Cinnamon Roll Can Explodes Inside Man’s Butt In Shoplifting Incident” and “Morgue Worker Arrested After Giving Birth To Dead Man’s Baby”.  The most shared story of the year, however, must have resonated with disaffected employees everywhere; 1,765,000 people passed this one along: ” Woman Arrested For Defecating On Boss’ Desk After Winning The Lottery”.

Wish fulfillment?  Magical thinking?  It’s hard to prepare an informed citizenry for the exercise of democracy when we can no longer trust the news our friends pass along.  And, by the way, the alleged Cinnamon Roll Can explosion would certainly move way past “incident” for any witnesses who happened to be waiting in line when the device deployed.

Real news, however, is stranger than fake, as is exemplified by the report issued by the Taunton, Massachusetts Fire Department, indicating that an arsonist attempted to use Cheetos as an accelerant in setting his ex-girlfriend’s house aflame.

The annual publication of the Darwin Awards celebrates the culling of the human gene pool as those most likely to reproduce the next generation of stunningly clueless mortals make mind-rattling and occasionally fatal choices, choices that suggest that they are unclear on a concept.  More than half of the awards have been given to criminals who, in the heat of the moment, have forgotten some of the central elements necessary to a successful crime, but 2016 was the year in which ordinary folks moved into consideration for the top prizes.  Both nominees failed to survive what must have seemed a perfectly reasonable impulse.  The first attempted to take a “selfie” with a crocodile; the second attempted the same photo op with two elephants in the wild.

2016 was the year of rampaging “killer clowns” as claims of abductions by clowns came from virtually every state in the union.  To date, no actual criminal clown activity has been substantiated, but schools and organizations did shut down in response to clown terror.  Urban myths spring fully formed, and this one took off quickly, not only prompting parents to form “clown vigilante” packs, but compelling “pro-clown” groups to march under the banner, “Clown Lives Matter”.

In 2016, the world of wanna-be-wizarding was rocked by J.K. Rowling’s disclosure that one of the students attending Hogwarts, Dean Thomas, had originally been named “Gary”.   Visitors to Pottermore – the digital heart of the Wizarding World took to the twittersphere to wonder at the meaning of the change of name.  Apparently Rowling had known a boy named Gary.  That’s it.  That’s all there is.  Gary.  The mind leaps, of course, to consider the other sorts of names that might have been been enrolled at Hogwarts had Harry, Hermione, and Neville not made the cut.  Chad Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, featuring  Chad’s loyal pals, Trixie and Stu.

The year that was brought controversy aplenty.  There was considerable flap over the sudden popularity of Lacroix Sparkling water, with particular concern that movers and shakers in Hollywood had adopted the fizzy stuff as the “insider” beverage of the year, hijacking what had been a down-to-earth product of the G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin and changing the pronunciation from “La Croy” to “Lah Crwah”.  Was the “French” pronunciation merely an affectation?  Hah!  Consider these among the TWENTY flavors of sparkling water now available:  Pamplemousse, Pomme-baya, Cerise limon, Pina Fraise, LaCola, and Mure pepino.  Zut Alors!

Finally, Pokemon Go was touted as the answer to the sedentary habits of gamers as the mobile application employed GPS in order to propel players through the “real” world, encouraging physical activity.  Maybe, but when players were directed to capture virtual creatures at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, The United States Holocaust Museum, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, when players were directed to trap creatures on the railroad tracks in Holland, when Bosnian players stepped into mine fields, when Japan reported seventy-nine Pokemon Go related auto accidents, when a stabbing victim in Forest Grove, Oregon refused treatment so that he could continue his hunt, when a boyfriend said, “Catch ’em all” instead of “I love you” when dropping off his girlfriend, we had to wonder.

And, just to send the old year off with proper fanfare, let’s remember that in 2016 we treated our celebrities well.  The Forbes list of Highest Paid Celebrities has a few surprises, but I’m certain we all agree that every penny is well deserved.  Leading the tally, Taylor Swift hauled down $170,000,000 last year, Dr. Phil McGraw counseled his way to $88,000,000 (How’s THAT working for you?), and Kevin Hart came in at $87,500,000.  Howard Stern will have to get by with $87,000,000.  Madonna still cashes a hefty check, coming in at $76,500,000 while the lovely and talented Rush Limbaugh tops that with $79,000,000.  Some surprises might include Kim Kardashian at $51,000,000 and Judy Scheindlin (Judge Judy) at $47,000,000.  I’m going to assume it’s residual income that brought Jerry Seinfeld another $43,500,000 last year, but how did virtually retired Tiger Woods bag $45,500,000?  The universe is now finally in balance,however, as supermodel Giselle Bundchen earned a mere $30,500,000 while hubby Tom Brady pulled down $44,000,000.

No room for resentment here.  I wish them a happy new year and pass on this urgent advice to the rest of us. Put down Pokemon Go, don’t take selfies with a crocodile, and if you win the lottery, steer clear of your boss’ desk.





“The Moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow…”

We don’t get much snow in this valley.  The passes are often socked in, and the mountain pines are flocked for much of the winter, but down here we are accustomed  to only a few dustings each winter, nothing awkward or inconvenient, a bit of accent snow to heighten the effect of holiday lights.  Novelty snow.  Window dressing.

Yesterday, however, we found ourselves inside a snow globe.  Apparently the local weather team was equally surprised by the appearance of snow, by the weight of snow, and by the generous and ongoing delivery of snow.  Attempting to recover the appearance of prognosticating expertise, they have been quick to announce that today’s snowfall has not eclipsed the record set in 1919.  So, no big deal; it’s only been almost a century since anything like this snow has settled here.

I have a friend who happens to be an Eskimo.  He was raised in Oregon but speaks the Yupik language, and so, has an opinion on the perennial linguistic squabble that bedevils academic anthropologists.  Do the Eskimo-Aleuts have more than a hundred words for snow?

Don’t expect a simple answer to what turns out to be a complicated question.  Of course, he argues, people who live and work in a northern climate are likely to have words specific to their immediate experience of their world in the same way that city-dwellers have all sorts of terms that country folk do not need.  Any Angelino is happy to tell you that taking the 10 or the 60 is brutal at rush hour, but the 101 can be carmagedden from the 134 to the 118 0r 126.  His short(ish) answer is that while snow falls in several varieties, it is the relationship of snow to all other elements and actors that matters.  Gradations of wind, temperature, sunlight, cloud cover, all affect snow, no matter how crystalline or granular it happens to have been at the point of precipitation.  Toss a person, a family, a tribe out there, and the relationships between observer and event become complex.

In the morning, I took the dogs into snow so deep that the smallest of the border collies had to leap from pocket of snow to pocket of snow in order to stay up with the rest of the pack.  Our largest and furriest, often miserable in mid-summer, settled into a drifted bank and sat contentedly watching the others frolic.  Finally, exhausted by having done some leaping myself, and very cold, I called the other dogs to the kitchen and delivered the expected biscuits.  Our frosty fur bag wouldn’t budge; the world suddenly made sense to him.

Later in the day, I approached snow-related chores, attempting to free a car so that we might pack in some supplies and get my daughter to the plane she needed to catch that evening.  I don’t own a snow shovel.  I have a pitchfork,and a chain saw, neither of which was of any use.  I had a snow shovel, and a toboggan, when we moved from Michigan in 1989, two of the many objects I have cast aside in moving from region to region.  I knew I would need them; why, oh why, did I listen to the voices of “reason”?  This is exactly why I haven’t discarded the ventriloquist dummy and the LP Christmas albums.  Who knows when they will be needed?

I’ll admit that my feelings about snow were altered as I faced the challenge of freeing the car.  I wasn’t annoyed, exactly, but let’s just say, less appreciative, as the-second-worst-snowfall-since-1919 filled my boots.  An ill-spent youth in Connecticut had taught me how to gently rock a car from tire-spinning stuckness to a semblance of traction, so I did manage to get to the store, and I did manage to walk my daughter’s luggage to the end of the long drive, and I did manage to get her to the airport, which is a journey of sadness for me as I hate to see her leave, but which is also necessary to her taking her place in the world as a competent and impressive young woman.

Mission accomplished, daughter safely delivered, I entered into the next stage of this complicated relationship with the elements.  As I rocked the car from its parking spot, I became aware that as daylight had faded, softly puffed snow had turned to ice.  I had been caught in an ice storm outside Portland last winter, terrified to find that I could not control the car and aware that I was not alone in careening across the highway .  I slid to the first exit and spent the night at a motel, hoping for a melt in the morning.  This region doesn’t deal with extremes easily; no crews plow or sand the roads.  Last night, I drove slowly, noting the cars already abandoned off the edge of the highway, slightly skimming sideways on the last leg as I took our dark country road, tapping my brakes until I docked at the now dark end of the drive, under fanned pine boughs still heavy with snow.

As I walked toward the house, however, I left the trees and stood in the light of a first quarter moon.  Moonshadow stretched from the trees, but the snow covering the orchard and the adjacent pasture was  unbroken and glowing.  Had the moon been full, that snowscape might have been more sharply gleaming, but in quarter light, I could appreciate Clement Moore’s figurative moon on the breast of new-fallen snow, not giving the lustre of midday to objects below, but softening fences, bushes, trees, the pasture shed.

Today the trees have shed much of their snow and are again green against a bright blue sky.  Deep snow has now been pocked with dog play and the oddly straight tracks of deer walking head to tail, scrambled slightly on either side of fences as the deer spring, then straightened and precise as they resume their ordered march.  Some small beast has made a home in the bramble at the south end of the larger pasture, having dug a path under that fence; the piled snow is matted now, so we can see where the skunk or woodchuck likes to sleep.

Tomorrow’s snow will be different; I won’t have a word for snow that has melted a bit, moved with the wind, refrozen, and ended up near a short tree.  It won’t come into being until I see it after all, and I may be pleased to spend another day snowbound in our cozy house, or I may be cabin crazed and desperate to find more coffee at Trader Joe’s.  Snow and I will meet again and we’ll figure things out.




Living On The Edge … Of Paradise

Living On The Edge … Of Paradise

The temperature has been dropping over the past few days; rumors of real snow abound, and travel plans through the mountain passes have to include snow tires or chains.  I live in the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon; the hills on both sides of the valley are forested, green until November, then flocked with snow until May.  The higher peaks don’t melt until the middle of July.

I walked across a parking lot yesterday morning, forgot about the errands I had planned, and stood looking to the south and north, grateful again to live each day against a spectacular backdrop.  People who grew up here describe the climate as “pear friendly”, the growing season is long, and sunshine and water arrive as the trees have need of them.  Summer days are long and occasionally very hot up here, but each of the seasons brings dramatic lightscapes and plenty of interesting weather.

My days, for the most part, are spent in Ashland, a small city of about twenty-five thousand people.  Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, an ambitious repertory theater company which produces plays in three separate theaters  from March until November.  In the course of a decade, the entire canon of Shakespeare’s work hits the stages, but Broadway musicals, original work commissioned by the Festival, Restoration comedies, French farce, and reimagined classical works will all have a place.  Southern Oregon University is here as well, and coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, horse farms, and orchards.  People move here, mostly from California, but from other parts of the West as well.  Locals put up with us; we admire the locals.

I’m lucky to be here, but I don’t live in Ashland.  I live in Phoenix, a village belonging to greater Medford.  We have a small home, fenced acreage, no near neighbors, and long views in every direction.  Home prices in Ashland are higher, and nobody I know drives to Phoenix for the restaurants or coffee shops, but I love the play of light in our part of the valley, and my fifteen minute drive to the south end of Ashland takes me by the loveliest panorama of mountains, a view Ashlanders don’t ordinarily see.

We moved here from Carpinteria, California, an equally small town, south of Santa Barbara, the American Riviera, packed with celebrities and tanned wealth of every sort.  We didn’t live in Santa Barbara, but in my fifteen minute drive to a Santa Barbara, I drove next to the Pacific and saw rainbows over the red roofs of the city.  My kids went to school in Santa Barbara; we shopped in Santa Barbara, found coffee shops in Santa Barbara, but drove home to a house in a less celebrated small town, adjacent to the hills of the Los Padres Forest, on a mesa, overlooking the Pacific. We enjoyed the same breezes that cool Santa Barbara in the summer and the same sunshine that warms it in the winter, but friendly Susan from the town’s bank called us when anything odd turned up on our debit card.

This pattern of living near but not in extraordinarily advantaged places began in childhood.  I grew up in Woodville, Connecticut, a community so small it can’t properly be called a village, much less a town.  As a non-census community, there has never been an estimate of population, but my guess is that the thirty or so households probably hold about a hundred people.  Woodville is one of five communities within the town of Washington, Connecticut, a large township with low population density. Today the population of the entire township (Washington Depot, Washington Green, New Preston, Marbledale, and Woodville) is about three thousand, five hundred, up about a thousand from what it was when I was in school.  Washington is one of the two or three loveliest towns in Connecticut; stately Georgian and Greek Revival houses flank the Green, and manicured estates follow the sweep of the rolling Litchfield Hills, the last extension of the southern Berkshire mountains.

Woodville is far from manicured; the truck route from Danbury to Torrington ran through Woodville, but there are few distinctive features to separate the stretch through Woodville from similarly undeveloped wooded country anywhere north of New Milford and south of Litchfield.  Long gone are The Armory (guns and knives) and Grandpa Snazzy’s Cabin, a tiny store that sold candy, sodas, and Hostess pastries, and which held the county’s only pinball machines.  My brother’s pottery (Wolff Pottery) was a landmark in later years, but in my youth, the building was still a mule barn.

Picture postcard Washington inspired the Gilmore Girls’ Star Hollow, and the famed Mayflower Inn has long welcomed guests from around the world.  The “commercial” area of  the town, known as Washington Depot consisted of the Hickory Stick Bookstore and Park’s Drugstore, a hardware store (The Washington Supply), a small market, the post office, the town hall, an art gallery, and a bank.  Marbledale had a grocery store, New Preston a package store, a grocery, a pharmacy, and a post office.  The town library, a smaller Park’s drugstore, the Congregational and Episcopal churches, and the Gunnery, a boarding school were on the Green.

I’m pretty sure the folks who live on the Green or on one of the expansive horse properties have no idea that there is a Woodville; not many Georgian or Greek Revival homes on the truck route.  On the other hand, main road aside, I was surrounded by pine forest and could easily walk to an unpaved road that followed the Shepaug River, branching off to meet Sabaday Lane, as horsey a lane as one can imagine and one that leads eventually to the top of Washington Green.  In the winter, when a cold rain was followed by a sudden drop in temperature, I could skate on that dirt road; in the summer, I could prop my bike at the trunk of a pine tree and walk down the bank into one of the pools made as the river dropped into a bend.

Years later, my wife and I were married in that post card church on the Green and celebrated by taking our tiny wedding party, including our dog, to the Mayflower Inn.  I have been tempted at times to feel sorry for myself as an outsider, far out at the fringe of gracious living, but the truth is that I have been fortunate from the start, lucky to find myself in extraordinary settings, delighting in the gifts that each season has to offer.

I spent much of this morning in the pasture with our four dogs.  Snow has been falling since before dawn; the dogs’ tracks fill quickly.  Despite the onset of winter, Blackberry tendrils have been throwing themselves far from the fences; today they are covered with snow, weighed down, far less likely to spring at me as I lop off new runners with a hedge trimmer large enough to fit a Norse god’s fists.  When the snows melt, I’ll gather up the piles of blackberry bramble and toss them on the burn pile.  For now, they sit snow covered, white mounds marking the fence line.



New Year’s Irresolutions

New Year’s Irresolutions

It’s the first weekday of the new year.  Resolutions fill the air.  The parking lot at the Y was packed today and every machine occupied.  I know my gym, its rhythms and its denizens; these were not my people.

I sweat next to the same people at the same time of day six days out of seven.  That’s not to tout my dedication, discipline, or resolve; I’m a creature of habit, currently retired, and without much to distract me on a day-to-day basis.  Were I not at the Y at the same time every day, I’d be shuffling around the house reminding my wife of the correct way to stack dishes, fold laundry, bring order to the silverware tray.  None of these would be welcome instructions, and my wife’s generous patience with my fussiness would quickly evaporate.  I would also be spending my declining years sitting in front of the TV, eating Cheetos, and watching the Game Show Network.  As the days and the pounds mounted, as my fussiness increased, my free-floating discontent and anxiety would chafe me into a state of sleepless exhaustion, driving me back to the cupboard for another bag of Cheetos and to the couch for another hour of Family Feud.

And so the world ends, not with a bang but with the remote in a death grip of fingers stained orange.

But I go to the Y, hop on a recumbent cycle, and pedal my way into sweet, sweet oblivion for an hour, hose myself down, and drive home ready to turn to reading, writing, and to the appreciation of all that my wife and each of my children bring me.  It’s a good life.

As I say, the air at the Y was thick with resolve; never has exercise been more earnest.  I have nothing against resolutions; they’ve never done me any particular harm.  Never done me any particular good either.  Generally, resolutions, like intentions, pave the road to whatever private hell we choose to inhabit.  Over the years, I’ve taken a different and equally ambitious path; I draw up a list of strongly held convictions from which I intend to escape, becoming mindfully irresolute.

For example, I intend to be irresolute in believing that disagreements reveal a lack of good judgment on the part of those who disagree with me.  I haven’t done very well in resolving to withhold judgment of others; by not done well I mean I’ve been laughably unsuccessful.  So, irresolution would lead me to say something like, ” I could be wrong…”.   “Hmmm.  You might be right.”  It will take practice, of course, but it seems almost possible to shift to the presumption that I might not have all information or all answers.

In an even more dramatic attempt at irresolution, I’m willing to release my frantic  attempt to control the future.  There is an outside possibility that what I believe is the inevitable course of events may, in fact, be nothing more than conjecture.  I often confide in a friend, wallowing in  the certainty of disaster and ruin ahead.  His advice is always the same; “Why don’t we wait until we get there?”

This impulse toward irresolution is put at risk as I move into resolution, so I’ve got no lists on the fridge, no deep thoughts on the bathroom mirror, no reminders hanging from the visor in the car.  To be irresolute is to be uncertain, and it is uncertainty I embrace as this new year begins.

I’ll grab my gym bag tomorrow, look for an open locker, hope a machine is available, and assume that once again, I have no ability to guess at which newly motivated, energetically resolved, fresh initiates will still be lumping along on the treadmill in a week’s time, or in a month.  Checking the certainty meter for a second, I’m reminded that I have no access to information about my own future.  I stand on the brink of a new year, then, irresolute and determined to stay so.

After all, you can’t argue with “who knows?”