[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Poem

  • From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2005 22:52:03 -0700

It may have been a while since you read a poem about the loveliness of trees. We have trees in Oregon, which provide mountain-fresh air to people east of us. In times past, there were scattered pockets of resentment caused by all the work we had to do to keep America's air safe-- cleaning up leaves and putting them in first quality, sanitary plastic bags--but with the new pollution credits, Oregon in October is now quite lovely. Intel, Tektronix, Nike, everyone shuts down for three whole weeks. All we do is gently sweep, and hum.

Performing my patriotic task, I heard a voice. It was my grandmother, singing one of her favorites, "Count your blessings, name them one by one." A tad sanctimonious, I thought, but it got me on to the subject of life's small pleasures. At a function in the new wing of the art museum last week one of my former students, after saying how well she remembers stripping off in my class--I remember this too--took me by the arm and said, "There's someone here you must meet." I knew who this must be. Professor David Ritchie and I have circled one another for years. Now here he was, tall, pleasant, a graduate of Stanford, at PSU, distantly Scottish, from Idaho. We talked ancestors--about whom neither of us knew much--but the real fun, of course, was introducing ourselves to others. You must try this.

I'm teaching World War One again, which amounts to raking over civilization's worst droppings. I visit, but get to come home at night in a dying car. (All our cars are flawed.) A friend thought he saw on a local street the whizzy of my dreams,--cheap, old, and newly for sale; I quickly drove to where he said it was, found only an Alfa Romeo Mirage. Eventually I tracked the real beast to its lair. "Very carefully maintained," said the dear old lady, "and you won't smell a thing because I rarely smoke within." "Ha!" I thought. Which is way short of ha-Ha!

As in ice skating, Highland Dance people can guess who'll finish among the medals. Last week the punters got it wrong. There was a dance-off, foot against foot, in the Earl of Erroll, a very tough test. Emily gave it plenty of welly, and won.

Uncountable steps from the tree, our apple slowly falls.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon
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