Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wind along the Waste

                                                                                                        Nov 19 2013

Carderock, over the water. Late afternoon sun in a blue sky, filtered through the bare trees of Vaso Island. Temperature about 50, with a fitful breeze coming down the shallow channel. 

T-shirt: Captain Jack's Alligator Farm

Song of the day: Crystal Ship

                              I drove in early, about two o'clock, knowing what I wanted to climb. Down over the water, out beyond Trudy's, I set up two anchors: one, directly over Crystal Ship, from a group of nuts set in the curious incipient crack that runs tight-closed, arguably from the very base, until at the lip it opens up, then jumps the summit ledge and splits the tall backstop stone; and the other end of my long anchor over to an oak and its companion cedar, to serve the rightward of Sterling's Twin cracks, and the short hard move called the Iron Cross.


“The crystal ship
is being tossed,
a thousand dreams,
a million schemes,
a million ways to die,
I'll never lie.”

                               These are the lyrics, roughly, stuck in my head for forty years or so; they are wrong of course, as I had never heard the song clearly, nor read the lyrics; I had constructed a romantically sad portrait of doomed love from the feeling of the music, and kept it in my emotional scrapbook as one of ten thousand other emotional touchstones of youth. Finding the true lyrics on YouTube was, inevitably, a letdown, as they have the jejune flaw, the shallowness, that runs through most of Morrison's work. Yet he was in fact a nascent poet, who might have matured well, I think, had he not sabotaged himself, caught in his own tragic/romantic melodrama like so many others.

                                              I dropped the old red rope on Crystal Ship, but threw it far to one side, onto the huge sloping ledge, so that it would not fall into the water; I could not see the base and just how wet it might be. I walked over and very slowly and carefully downclimbed the ramp. All this ramp and face was once my private solo playground; I would regularly walk past the base of Trudy's, boulder around the corner and up right, to the top of the ramp, downclimb the ramp, and solo the Cracks and the Ship, and if the water was as low as this day, do one or two hard overhang starts off the big rock in the river, and almost never feel a moment of fear. But now I tested my anchor, four nuts or no, and rapped to the base. Soon John showed up and bouldered across over the water to me.

“Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm.”

                                               This lyric I do know properly. His last song; it perfectly captures the bleakness of romantic existentialism, an oxymoron I understood very well, but which failed to convince my youthful self. I found too much meaning, too much beauty in my world, to feel that death invalidates it. Now I have come around to the opposite opinion: that death, change, ending and beginning, are necessary for meaning to be real for us. But as a starting point - into this world we're thrown – it is inarguable.

“Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.”
                                                              - Khayyam/Fitzgerald

                                               A rescue helicopter appeared and began making numerous runs fairly low, directly overhead and all along the shores of Vaso Island. Sometimes we felt the wash of the rotors. A random head appeared over us at the anchor and asked if we had heard any calls for help, which we had not. The swarms of shouting preteens that had been running around earlier had disappeared; the afternoon would have been silent and paralyzingly beautiful if the copter had not been there. It occurred to me that a team of thirty men and several rubber rafts would have been both cheaper and more effective than the helicopter. But there was nowhere to lose a person; the trees were bare and the river slow and clear.

                                                In spite of the meaningless din we climbed well. Curiously, the climbs seemed easier than I remembered, even though I had to work harder physically, and push my stiff ankle. I did the direct finish to Crystal Ship which involves trusting a very sharp small right handhold and a small mild right foothold, and rising on them while fudging the lack of anything real for the left foot, and getting a good left hand higher, though still on fresh-broken crockery half sunk in the rock. John went and looked at the Iron Cross, and was optimistic that he could do it on a warmer day.

. . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies...

                                              For me, any fragment of Ozymandias, such as 'half sunk', will tug on my brain to reform the rest of it, so perfectly unified is the poem; like heart cells meeting in a petri dish and starting to beat again in tandem.

...the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

...the lone and level sands stretch far away.



About Me

My photo
He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ring'd with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls.