FROG HOSPITAL -- April 20, 2019
By Fred Owens
The Middle Ages was part of how we got here. That age set the tone and the direction. I see a direct connection from rose-colored windows and flying buttresses to the invention of airplanes and space travel. We are connected to those olden times. We are what they dreamed of becoming, in part. As for the roof catching fire, well, it lasted 850 years and that in itself is quite impressive. The cathedral will be rebuilt, it will not be exactly the same as it was. It will take much longer than the five years promised by Macron. In fact, to get into the spirit of cathedral construction, let us begin by assuming that the work will not be completed in our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our children. Think long-term. That is the great virtue of the Catholic/Christian tradition. (along with the numerous vices).
It will take more than five years. It will take a hundred years.
Sage did what she wanted.
A brief episode. Sage and I take the day off and head for the beach. We get to know each other.
The two would-be lovers approach their private sandy acre on Stinson Beach in September of 1969. The gods of the Zodiac will smile down on Sage and Fred. The wise old men will choose the right Hexagram in the I Ching. Baba Ram Dass will hum mantras. Timothy Leary will call long distance and Eldridge Cleaver will start selling girl scout cookies door-to-door. Anything can happen.
We spread the blanket on the sand and stretched out. It was a beautiful day, just warm enough for sunbathing. I took off my shirt, lay on my back and watched the sky, all blue with clouds and small breezes. The waves were small and hushed.
I looked over at Sage. She was taking off her shirt too. She said, “I can’t stand it. You can take your shirt off, but not me. Well, I will.”
“That’s fine with me, “ I said. I looked at her breasts, pale and soft. Then I looked at the sky again. We had the beach to ourselves.
Not wanting to think about this too much, I took off my pants, to be naked. Then she did the same and there we were, getting to know each other that way. We could hear birds chirping in the bushes near the top of the sand.
I rolled over and embraced her. We began to make love. Then I stopped. “You know, I’m not really up to this,” I said.
“Well, it’s just being out here in the air and all. It’s nothing but being a little bashful I guess.”
“But tonight, when we get home……”
“It won’t be a problem.”
With that we became quiet and held each other softly. Closing our eyes, we drifted away on day dreams. It was a special day. There was no one but us. All of nature was for us, for nurture and protection. Time passed without reckoning.
Later, we drove – but floating – across the Golden Gate Bridge, back through San Francisco, and then back to Berkeley.
Sage told me she didn’t like listening to the AM radio in the truck. “All you can get are those awful Top Forty shows full of ads. “ So, it was radio silence for us, but I thought we could talk.
“Let’s talk,” I said.
“About what? “ she said.
“Tell me something about yourself.”
“The whole deal?”
“Yes, all of it.”
We became lovers and that lasted for two years.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover. I need to tell a story about how Pam Fleetman and her husband invited me to my first seder in 1993. I was living in Cambridge at the time. The seder was at the Workmen's Circle in Brookline, a Boston suburb. I avoided snacking before this big festive dinner. I showed up hungry. That was a big mistake. We sat down at the table, but we didn't eat for almost two hours. All this reading and talking, while I'm going blind from hunger. I didn't know.
The next year I was invited to a seder and I made sure to eat a substantial snack before I got there. That's how to do it.
Our Family. Laurie and I had a great time in Seattle for six days, visiting Eva and Lara and my grandson Walter Finnegan who will be two on July 29. Walter has almost learned how to talk. He actually is talking but it's kind of hard to understand. He says No a lot. No is a powerful word and a good way to begin. His other favorite word is Uh-Oh, which describes the human condition.
We spent one day in LaConner and visited the tulip fields, although it was cold and muddy out there and we scarcely got out of our car. We spent the night at the cottage that Janet Saunders has for guests. The cottage was built by Jeff Langlow about 20 years ago. Jim Smith had a desk and an old Macintosh computer for writing his weekly column in the cottage. The desk is still there, but Jim has gone to a better place. Or you might say Jim made the place better when he got there. Clyde is there and Avocado Richard is there. Robert Sund ...... I could go on... Jimmy Schermerhorn.......
The Fire at Notre Dame. This is a life-changing event. I am astonished beyond words. Am I wrong to say that this tragedy, as sad as it is, fills me with hope?