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Somewhere East of Nowhere
By Joeseph Hackett

Adirondacks, New York, Resource Guides

It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day, late in the month of May, and here I was, sitting on an old tree stump. I had walked off along to some rounded top mountain to practice the delicate art of stump sitting. Sometimes a man can think better when he's atop of a mountain. A man can't see any humans there. Or if he can, they're so far away and very small, and it doesn't much matter. As I sat, swatting away the blackflies, I began to think of a quote I'd once heard. An old Indian friend had told me, "I was born in the mountains, lonesome born; raised running ragged through the cockleburs and corn; Up in the mountains so still it'll make ya scared, where got lies sleepin' in his big white beard." This short verse was on my mind, and I was wondering if there could possibly be any truth in it. Well, all this pondering was getting totally brain bogging and I figured there's only one way to find out. I've gotta get off this rotten stump and move these old feet, and that's exactly what I did.

I headed back into the woods, past windy Cliff, and came upon a small, cool, ripplin' creek. I thought, "if there's some human being up there he'll need water", so up the waterway I continued my quest. I followed along its banks for miles, stopping now and again for a taste of the cold sparkling water. I meandered my way uphill and through ravines till I finally came upon a large backwoods pond. I'd never been this far back in the woods, and the map I carried didn't record the presence of such a pond. As it was getting dark, I figured this would make a fine place to camp of the night. I made a small lean-to out of evergreen boughs, started a hardwood fire, and headed toward the pond hoping to get some dinner. As I waded into the clear water I could feel all the creatures of the forest watching me and saying to themselves, O.K. slip and make a fool of yourself. "And like an obliging fellow, I did, accidentally of course. So, I gave this large body of water a name, O.K. Slip Pond" Dinner was easy enough to procure, for the pond was full of crawdads; the big old ones, easily distinguished by their large blue claws. I gathered them by poking a stick in front of them. They'd pinch it and I'd pull 'em out, drop 'em in my hat and repeat the process I also speared a couple bullfrogs and gathered some greens. Well, between the mini-lobsters, the frog legs and a fiddlehead salad, I was stuffed. I fell asleep with a backwood band of peepers and an old owl singing out as if in competition.

I awoke to a splendid day. As I packed up my limited gear, I though, "Where shall I head". I left my leanto intact, thinking it would make fine cover for partridge come winter. Off I went, past the pond and into the woods. The warm morning sun sparkled on the dew covered leaves around me, and warmed me more on the inside than on the out. I covered miles of territory, seemingly never tread upon by human feet. I wasn't sure of my bearings, for here I was, somewhere east of nowhere; yet nowhere is so beautiful in the spring, in the sun, with the music of the wilds and the new life of a thousand living things. And nowhere is where I found this bearded god that my friend had told me about so long ago. Here he was, living in a huge hollow bolder, a forgotten relic from some bygone age of glaciers. His speech was not perfect, yet he probably hadn't much use for our language, I thought. He greeted me with a deep "hullo" and a hearty handshake. We sat on a large bed of moss, and ate lunch from turtle bowls with wooden spoons, while all the animals about his camp sat curiously watching. He asked me what I was doing so far back in the wilderness, what had brought me here? I told him my friend and his

I asked him how long he'd been here, and of how a man can survive seemingly with such ease. He laughed, hard and long, shaking the leaves on the nearby saplings, and then he spoke. "I'm not a man, no, I'm but a child in a man's disguise" This confused me, for he looked at me through the eyes of age. We finished our meal and sat back. He asked me to speak to him of the outside world, as I knew it. So, with a sip of water I began. I told him of cars and bars, and jets and the sort. Of pollution and litter, of corruption and wars. Of people alone, and old, and of people young and aggressive. Of Watergate and hostages and bobs beyond belief. Of computers and chips and all the modern conveniences of big business. I rambled on about schools and churches, of cults and calamities. I spoke of friends and foes, of the good and the bad. I told of assimilation growth and the cities, the dirt, noise and the fast pace of life. I covered medication, law and nearly every other facet of my life that i could recall. He sat there, listening intently, through the rising and setting of two suns and then the moonlight began to drowse my spirit. I fell asleep, only to awake to the smell of breakfast and it smelled good. We state down to a hearty meal, and when it was done, I asked him if he would speak to me of his world. For a moment he sat still. I've heard it said that the deepest feelings always show themselves in silence. For a man who had trouble speaking the first time we met, his fluency was startling.

The first thing he spoke of was peace, and on this path the talk continued. The tranquility of the woods, the ease of life, on rush, no bothers, a carefree, gentle and relaxed style of life. He talked of the birds and the trees, of flowers and herbs, the change of seasons, the weather, and his way about. He encompassed the joy of freedom and the lack of want. All that was needed was there for the taking; easily gotten but not so easily forgotten. His hardships he said were few. Loneliness, to my surprise; was not among them. You see, it was his belief that all living things can communicated; and from the con, deer, and great variety of other game that seemed to constantly be around his camp, I'm sure he was right. He told me of the living things and their ways. The comedy he spoke of had me in tears, and he held me in amazement and awe as he spoke. We had sat and talked through the rising and setting of tree suns, and still he had more, however, my eyes did not. They shut and I was out.

When I finally awoke, I realized that it was indeed a great occasion upon which I had been graced. But now it was time that I should be leaving. He showed himself aging, but mentioned that he was just passing through, on his way up some nearby hill. We talked a bit more and then I headed back from nowhere. I said goodbye and left, with a tear in my eye, for here I was all alone, having left the only true friend I'd ever known; and knowing in my heart that god's country was nowhere anymore.

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