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The Old Oak

The Old Path had always been there. It was much, much older than any of the people who had ever traveled it. It was there thousands of years before that, even while the animals slowly came to understand that it was convenient for them, too…to be able to run faster, to escape. To chase and track more effectively. They would use it, and mark it with their scents, teach their young about it. It was the center of their world, just there between the two rivers.

The Path was then, quite as it is even now, a dangerous place. The deer would dare to try to race its length because the underbrush was so thick all around it, and the fawns loved to play in the open when they could, in the glorious warm sun.

Life there for all creatures was dangerous and exhilarating, and if any of them could have made a word to describe it, the word would have been sacred. 1213822202y4PsDf The Oak had been there along the Path just since the time of People. By then, the Path was very well-worn, and because of the Oak’s considerable size, it became a gathering and resting place for the people who now used the Path as their own. They even started a new path, that ran across the Old Path right where the big Oak stood. So now the Old Path led across the narrow piece of land that rose between the two rivers, while the new path led away North towards the further settlements of other People.  Pawtucket… Mohawk…Mohican…  And just to the South, the two rivers emptied into a sheltered bay.

The Old Path led from the bank of the Eastern river up a gradual hill to a crest, and on the other side was a steep decline leading to the other river. The People, whose sound for themselves was Wampanoag, would use the crest to watch for potential enemies from the South and West.  Narragansett…Mohegan…Iriquois…there were many in those days.

And then, the English came. They had been driven away from their homes in the  Massachusetts’  land, and not by the People, but by their own. They were sickly but aggressive, and knew nothing of how to live at all. On the bank of the river to the West, they cleared the land and built a settlement, a fort. It was hard to know who they were most afraid of, the People or the other English.

The English crowded themselves into their settlement with their odd-shaped houses facing the river and their backs to the high crest behind them. They had some very odd habits, such as the small narrow place behind their houses that they called  Benefit Street. They would plant their gardens there, and also bury their dead there, practically in the same place.

The People would watch them from the high ground on the ridge and wonder if they would prove to be as difficult as their relatives had proven to be, the ones who had pushed their way into the land of the Massachusetts. They would often gather under the Old Oak to discuss the ways that their lives seemed to be changing.

But Massasoit had befriended their leader, the one called Roger Williams. He had  invited him to live on the opposite river bank  to the East, so as to make their visits and talks more convenient; and it was also seen as prudent to tactfully keep the English leader away from the English settlement, which was now called  Providence.

In the course of their visits, it was determined that the English mainly needed to convey their odd notion that God was only one spirit, and a man at that.  The People could count at least 38 different ways to convey  the idea of God to the English, and some others just could not be described well at all. But these Providence English  were at least able to have the conversation, as opposed to the others; there had already been some disturbing trouble in the English settlements to the East and North.

The Old Path was now being very busily traveled. The English were moving between Providence and  East Providence almost daily, and they even began to clear a separate parallel path as they cut more and more trees to build their church. Possibly the strangest English idea, their spire pointed straight up into the sky, the only place where they thought Spirit was.

And the Old Oak, who now stood at the crossing of two busy paths, came to see a great many things transpire. It had always known everything, in the deep old way that had existed from the very beginning.

Angell and Hope; that is what the two paths were called now, in the modern age. The Oak had watched the People fade away and saw the  quiet woods become opened in every direction by new paths. Paths became streets, wagons were drawn by horses. The war with the English long forgotten, as were the English themselves, ultimately. The Oak heard of wars, and rumors of wars.

Many of the other Old Ones along the Path were destroyed to make more room; always another path for the horses, then the wagons, and the cars.

The Oak watched as the English rebuilt their settlement, destroyed during the war.

It watched as a young housemaid sat on the steps of the stately brown mansion house and worried for her proud young soldier in the blue uniform. She was correct in her concern; the young man did not return. A scenario to be repeated over time, as the uniform colors went from dark blue through shades of green.

The Oak watched the nocturnal wanderings of Poe and Lovecraft.

The Oak watched as the policemen directed traffic from a wooden podium at the corner, with their hidden flasks for the cold days, or when the Path was quiet.

And when electricity came, it watched as people gathered to watch the new magical box that replaced the policemen.  And those same policemen would watch the box, too, because they missed their podium and the bad weather and their flasks. They knew somehow that it would never be the same again.

And the Oak knew that they were correct in those concerns, too; that it could never be the same.

Because the Oak always knew that someday all these things would be gone again. That the cars, electricity, the noise, the buildings…all would fade, as did the People, and all the English.

That the Old Path would claim itself once again, and the Oak would once again watch the fawns play in the sunlight.

Because the Oak had one particular quality of its own, through the whole of time…

Patience.

// //

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Do It !! Just Do It !!!

All right then.

This is the very beginning of an experiment.

This offshoot of the Secessionist Rag is meant to be where I actually attempt some writing of a more serious tone.

I’ve little reason to believe that I’m at all capable of that. I’ve had a tremendous time with the Rag, and I’m quite comfortable with its fun and informal setting. But I also harbor a nagging suspicion that I might be able to go further.

All right then.

I will readily commence with throwing some stuff at the walls in here, and hope to God that something sticks.

I have what I think to be two good ideas for novels; one has been drafted out to two chapters, and frankly, I don’t like it. It needs to be all but redone.

 The second is in the planning stage; the main character will be my great-great-grandfather, and I can’t yet quite decide his overall demeanor in it. I must be fully committed to that demeanor before I even write a single word. ( I’ll explain later.)

Both novels share the town of Fredericksburg, VA. as their primary setting; one in modern time, and the other in 1862.

I have also witten a series of short anecdotal stories for my niece Olivia, aptly titled ” Olivia Stories “. Those may also appear here for your perusal. But Olivia is now almost fifteen, and would be beyond mortified to know that her early childhood had been bannered across the universe, so great discretion is called for.

I will offer an outline of each of the novel ideas, and will endeavor to work on them both within this site.

I also hope to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Nutcracker this December, and discover a cure for cancer by  next spring.

Just a little battlefield humor…

It’s almost time.

And please..as always, your thoughts, criticisms, and comments are most welcome.