Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good Morning Justin...

Letter to My Son
16 December, Sunday

Good Morning Justin…

The horrific tragedy in Connecticut last week had me thinking of another young man, a protector of small children, the protagonist of the book The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield.  As he neared his own breakdown following an odyssey of dealing with life’s phonies, he said:

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That’s all I’d do all day.  I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.  I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.  I know it’s crazy.”

How are you?  I’m wondering what you have in mind for Christmas.  I remember your interests being centered on sports.  You should be very good in baseball now; football, too.  I’m sure you’re still a vibrant, vocal competitor.  It’s been in the marrow of your bones since you first learned to throw and catch a ball.  You have been and will always be a rough and tumble mama’s boy, just like the college football player along the sidelines, turning to the TV camera, waving and saying “Hi, Mom.”

The weather here has been cold then unseasonably warm, then snapping back to cold again.  It’s dry.  We’ve had no rain of any consequence for weeks.  People are beginning to talk.  I think most of us would like snow but that’s a tricky convergence of a cold front from the north greeting warm moisture moving up from the south, the Gulf of Mexico.  Snow from Indiana and Kentucky plays itself out in the Appalachians before reaching here.  The careful timing required of a Northern freeze meeting Dixie moisture over our area means we get only a couple of snowfalls a year.  The snowy landscape soon dissolves in the warm air south of the Mason-Dixon line unless, of course, you live in a cabin in a nearby mountain town such as Blowing Rock. 

Walking the dog each morning I still see squirrels in a spiraling chase up and down trunks of oak as they squabble over who gets which tree.  They’re cranky insomniacs with fitful patterns of hibernation.  They seem to need a deep chill for good sleeping weather.  Smart squirrels bury acorns that fall from trees in the Fall.  They use their keen noses to find their stored food in winter months and early spring when the new crop is not yet available.  On snowy days I toss unsalted shelled peanuts about.  It seems to suit them in a pinch.  Various birds carry them off, as well.  Winter is a time of stress for animals.  The older ones with creaky joints can no longer compete and they soon lose out.  Weakened, they are easily picked off by a prowling hawk or fox.  You either eat lunch or be lunch.  There are no days off.

Nine days till Christmas, Justin.  Tell everyone hello for me.


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