CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - You Can Go Home Again-But Do You Really Want To?


By Jack Cawthon

I awake, if one can call it an awakening with only one eye open and a brain that is resting on screen-saver mode. It's as dark as a well digger's glass eye all around me. I see, or rather can't see, why not going back to sleep can serve even a better purpose, especially if I click off screen-saver and punch up some Blockbuster dreams of my choice.

Then, through the darkness, I hear excited voices and a discussion of the perplexing issue of where deer might be found (possibly asleep? I ponder), and then it dawns upon me long before the dawn's early light that this must be deer camp 2002, and if so, then I must be back on Barbecue Run, the location of my entrance into the world. As I recall, I was resting peacefully even back then until I found myself thrust suddenly into the light, and with the same feeling I exhibit on this particular morning I wanted to crawl back into that warm dark nest and try again another day.

On the tin roof I hear the drumming of the 90 percent rain that the weather person had forecast. I was never very good at math, one reason among many other defects why I ended up in journalism, but I figure that we must be having around 95 percent rain from the sound of it.

There is nothing more soothing than to hear rain beating on a tin roof, especially is one doesn't have to roll out of bed and venture forth into it, and I had no intention of doing such. The main attraction of hunting camp for me is that I don't hunt, which means that I ain't fool enough to arise at an unholy hour to sally forth trying to do harm to an innocent small animal that has never threatened me.

Not so with my youthful companions, Troy and Matt. They are eager to get with it, and they begin to assemble all the paraphernalia our troops may need for Iraq-well, maybe not the rain gear-but all the rest that a good hunter needs to outfox a deer, and all of which keeps Cabela and the DNR going.

They may say they enjoy this, but I view it as pure misery. I once worked for an administrator whose personal philosophy was that he could only judge his own happiness by the misery of others. We had a sort of symbiosis in that he kept me in abject misery and I kept him deliriously happy. Judging what misery Matt and Troy will face in their adventure, I roll over and, feeling overly happy, snuggle into my bedroll, and if you're a bit Freudian, maybe regress to that pre-birth stage again.

Two or three times each year I return to that holler of my birth for "hunting camp," proving that you can go home again, although many of you might not want to if you were privy to its discomforts, privies being only part of it. With me, it's more a normal regression as I turn my aging Dakota pickup south and tool down I-79, regressing more and more as I near Letter Gap. You see all those movie plots about time travel and there is always a complicated machine involved. That isn't necessary for me, as I've been told that I live in the past anyway, and maybe it's easy for me to relocate to that isolated holler, the happiest years of my life.

Did I say "isolated" holler? That's hardly the description today. About two years ago the first Turner returned to his home land to live. He brought with him electric, a good road, which once was only a muddy goo, the telephone, satellite TV, and a computer connect to the world wide web, even extending beyond Glenville.

Before Willard and Margie Turner there was only one full timer on the two-mile stretch of road. The new arrivals settled in next door to me, next door being relative and about a quarter-mile away. That is where the modernity ends as I didn't extend the umbilical up to my place. Having been overly wired through the years myself, I now seek the disconnected self, which may make me a dark rural mystic.

However, one Turner led to two Turners, four if you count spouses, and Bob and Wyene moved in as neighbors of their cousins. Now, in addition to the material improvements I have neighbors to talk to, that is, when I get out of bed. I take my good old time doing so and the hunters are long in the woods as I greet the morning sun, which operates on its own daylight savings times in that holler.

Both Turners have constructed new houses, and the change in the holler is beyond belief in that I had always supposed there would be men and women living on the moon long before Barbecue Run became populated again. I worry that I will be out-voted if a Homeowners' Association is formed. I may be informed that my sagging handyman's extra special dwelling will need spruced up to conform to implemented codes.

Once these time travels were tough on my psyche. Now, with all the improvements it's almost as if I haven't left the spot where I ran out of steam many, many years ago in my run for upward mobility and stalled out seven miles from the Mason-Dixon line in the heart of Yuppieland. However, my Yup had expired, and here I find myself little more than a Mothie (mature, over-the-hill).

If Barbecue can move into the 21st century, then maybe I can squeeze into the 20th. But back to nature. The two nimrods of the forest each get a deer, although I kid Matt about "harvesting" a glove compartment sized one.

Did I mention that Troy came across the bear that had been rumored roaming the holler? It was eating under his deer stand and didn't want to move. At one time we didn't have deer, and bears were unheard of. Even the Turners were long gone. But if all these species return in force today, maybe there is still hope for Republicans in Gilmer County.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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