When you’ve been by yourself a while it’s comforting to see living things going about their business. Makes you feel like you’re not missing out on something. They find their way into my cabin somehow - the ladybugs - when it’s very cold out, and they land on me when I’m making dinner. One accidentally ended up in my stir-fry tonight. I didn’t catch him until it was too late, and then just left him there among my steak and peppers.
There are also birds in the walls. They shuffle around very early in the morning and seem to argue with each other. About what, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve begun to sleep through it, actually. My depth of sleep adjusts easily to surrounding noise. This particular morning I slept through my neighbor shooting a dog he found eating his chicken. The conversation went like this:
”Hey Kevin how’s it goin’?” “Found the fuckin’ neighbor’s dog in my front yard this morning, ate my last chicken. Got it burnin’ in back.” ”Wait, what’s burning?” “The dog.” ”The neighbor’s dog? Do you know who’s dog it is?” “Yeah, I’ve got an idea.” ”Dude, what if someone comes looking for it?” “Ain’t seen it.” ”You’ve got someone’s dog burning in your backyard right now.” “Yeah I should actually go throw some diesel on that. Maybe a tire. Be right back.”
I drove to a store a few towns over to kill some time until the frost wore off, and on my way back I swear you could smell that dog over a mile away when you were coming into the valley. It’s always colder down by the farm than it is after that small hill you have to climb to get to the main road.
On that same point though, people out here in western Pennsylvania just shoot shit on their property and no one pays any attention. Except a couple who stays at the farm now and then: they’re vegan, the type that move grasshoppers out of the street. They say to be careful which trails I run during hunting season, and they’re kind of smirking when they say this but are also like, no really.
There are different kinds of guns around here, too; some that pop in a shrill and reverberate within the valley, some that are long and feel calculated, and they’ll have you flinch towards the ground in a reflex that develops exactly once after you’ve been close to street violence.
People aren’t used to runners. Do they wave at me? Slow down for me? Do they see me in the first place? Sometimes they do and we acknowledge each other. Other times we’d both just rather not. I find myself going to this Mennonite-owned ice cream shop down the road just to talk to someone, or to watch people talk to each other. It’s nice. The longest I’ve gone here without speaking is three days, and after a while you get kind of crazy from it and then the sound of your own cough will startle you. I’ve taken to singing lately, just to myself. And I guess whoever happens to be around me at the moment. It feels good to do, highly recommended.
At noon and six every evening the church bells ring. They give me pause, and I see how the land looks at that very moment, tracing shadows back to their base.
Last Sunday was a good day. It was the first time I’ve ever seen snow fall. I was making lentils right then and sort of started bouncing off the walls with excitement when I looked through the window. The thought to meet someone for a drink to celebrate crossed my mind but that wasn’t really possible, then the thought to call someone to relish in the moment with but it didn’t really feel right to be on the phone, then the thought to run. To run very far, to see the snow bounce off my sweater, to fill a space that is both transparent and captivating.
There’s so much space around here. The oxygen, the clouds, the stillness. In the air before sunrise a breeze will pulse through the valley and you can measure the width of the wind by the emptiness of everything that has not yet woken around you.
Fleetwood Mac and Daft Punk
When the bright idea to drink hits you
Snowflakes look like snowflakes
Nicotine withdrawal is so real
A good night of sleep
They decided he died