Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Unintended Consequences of Water-Skiing in the Shower

Like most parents, the good ones anyway, I take pride in my children’s burgeoning physical independence. First steps, last diaper, beginning of school, end of having to wipe them after they use the toilet (which—if no one has told you yet, let me—comes surprisingly much, much later than the last diaper), are all part of the independence process.  Then one day you realize that not only do you not have to make sure they bathe themselves correctly, that frankly, they just want you out of the whole personal hygiene arena.  Instead of bittersweet, I found this realization liberating!

But let’s face it, no matter how much I want to do my I’m free! I’m free! mommy-dance, the reality of water, soap, hard surfaces, sharp corners, and small electronic appliances all mingling in perilously close proximity to one another makes using the bathroom facilities fraught with hidden dangers to the developing child.  So I still listen. I listen for the uninterrupted sound that water should make when hitting an upright child in the shower.  I listen to make sure that the water is turned off before the showering process starts its third quarter hour. I listen for the sound of the plastic curtain opening, followed by the all-important two good solid thuds of wet feet on the bath mat before I can even think about dancing. Because my youngest is twelve, I suppose this amount of concentrated listening makes me an amateur, or even freakish, but I offer no excuses or apologies.

I don’t know where my excessive fear of mortal bathroom accidents comes from, but I have a guess.  Maybe only those of us who have those hideous, molded-plastic shower surrounds in the tub/shower combo have this experience.  Nothing, but nothing, really stays on the molded plastic shelves of that tub surround.  By nothing, I mean the soap, the shampoo bottles, the body wash, whatever it is, all of our in-tub health and beauty aids seem to be watching the Acapulco Divers’ Channel late at night and are anxious to try out their skills while any member of my family takes a shower. Of course this always makes quite a racket. Who knew that an economy size shampoo bottle from Costco could sound so much like a not quite grown head whacking the side of the tub? Because of my long-practiced “listening” skills and extreme fleetness of feet, everyone in the house is trained to immediately report, “I’m okay” whenever shower stuff takes a dive or risk my showing up unannounced shower-side. It’s a little thing, but it keeps us all relatively happy.

Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the sound made by my twelve year-old’s shocking discovery that she had the strength to emancipate a ten pound ceramic soapdish fixture from its securely mortared position among the other tiles in the better, second shower!  In her shock, both she and the fixture flew against the opposite wall of the shower but were apparently unharmed.  I say apparently, because, happily, I was not home when it happened. When I arrived home, I was greeted by the large soap dish fixture, intact, balanced awkwardly and somehow dolefully, on the side of the tub. It was my husband who attended the crash. (And if I had to guess, I’d say it happened in the fourth quarter hour of the shower. I'm just saying.)

The twelve year-old was completely mortified. Based on her extreme embarrassment and sorrow, it was plain that she was completely responsible for pulling the damn thing clean off of the wall! But how? This is still not perfectly clear, but near as I can figure, she was using its integrated face cloth rack to simulate water-skiing.  

But this is not the unintended consequence of which I wish to warn you.

Because we couldn’t risk getting the sub-wall wet, the fully-tiled shower was out of commission for a few weeks while my hunter husband gathered time and materials for the repair. Everyone had to use the other, Shower of the Clavadistas.

Time passed.

Now as the parent of any eleven to thirteen year-old can tell you, weird things start to happen to your kids at this age. They wake up one day and their faces just look different, your son begins to sound like his father, or worse, your daughter begins to smell like your father!  In less extreme cases, they simply begin to change in countless little ways. So when I noticed that my daughter’s hair was particularly greasy, I just reminded her gently to brush it to distribute the oils.  Later that same week, as I wondered when she had last taken a shower, she began to notice my concern over her clean smelling, but greasy looking hair.  Finally, when I was certain that she only looked like she had applied a blob of VO-5 directly to her scalp, I felt an intervention was necessary.  Much to her horror, I insisted on washing her hair.

Et, voila! After over two weeks of looking like she had some overactive sebaceous gland problem, my daughter’s appearance was back to normal.

So what happened?

Again, near as we can figure, the shower water-skiing form she had developed and perfected over years of independent bathing had somehow become an integral part of her personal hygiene process. Without it—gone by necessity at first, and by choice later—she had failed to successfully reorganize her showering procedure and the application of shampoo to her scalp was among its casualties.

This, my friends, is the unintended consequence of water-skiing in the shower:  Mindless motions may make perfect procedures, but springing ceramic soapdishes from the wall will wreck the ways you wash. Or, in the effort to put the fun in perfunctory, don’t forget about the funk in function.

And with this cautionary tale for children and parents alike, we wish you a Fun, and Safe! Halloween.

[I am the twelve year-old in question, and I sort of approve this message.]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Now We Are Six (and Forty)

In which A.A. Milne has nothing on me.
(Unless you count that whole Winnie the Pooh thing.)

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

A. A. Milne (1927)

Now We Are Six (and Forty)

When I was Ten,
I felt grown up then.
When I was Twenty,
I had verve a-plenty.
When I was Thirty,
I looked mighty purty.
When I was Forty,
I got a bit sporty.
When I was Forty-Five
I really came alive.
But now I am Forty-Six,
And it doesn’t sound nifty,
I have only four years to be Spectacular by Fifty.

Lynne (2010)

I could have just said “Happy Birthday to me,” but that’s so un-poetic.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Lisa VanDamme discusses a motivational technique used in the classroom and at home.  I can say without reservation that my children love when I tell stories about things I've done or thought when I was younger, and I agree that they learn much better from these stories than from lectures.

Sadly, I sometimes feel like I'm running out of stories, but never lectures.


If the formatting is off, you can watch the video here.

The Lesser Calculus Controversy

In honor of Leibniz’ first use of the big “S” in integral calculus (as seen above and reported in the Jewish World Review to have occurred on this date 335 years ago), I’d like to settle this controversy once and for all.

Which of these statements is correct? 
I can’t go to prom, I have the calculus homework.

I can’t go to the prom, I have calculus homework.

Never mind that your high school dances were decades ago and your use of higher math completely forgotten, or even that both statements scream that you’re a serious geek and a very bad planner if math homework prevents you from attending the big night. It’s simply a matter of correct usage at this point, and has always bothered me.

While prom is short for the noun, promenade, meaning a ball or dance, it seems to be used in the first sentence as an infinitive form of the verb.  If it were the object of the preposition, it would require the definite article the before prom. Wouldn’t it?

And how about that calculus?  I read that it is called “the” calculus because it is shortened from the calculus of infinitesimals, but isn’t it simply a field of mathematical study? Like Algebra, or geometry.

I’m just curious.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Objectivist Round Up #172

Welcome the 172nd edition of the Objectivist Round Up,blog carnival of posts written by individuals who are advocates of Objectivism: the philosophy developed and defined by Ayn Rand.

If you are new to Objectivism and would like to discover more about Ayn Rand’s "philosophy for living on earth," I recommend you read her two great novels,
Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. If you enjoy her novels, I recommend her essays Man’s Rights, and The Nature of Government. The Ayn Rand Institute and the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights provide relevant information and commentary.

As we head to the polls on Tuesday, I thought this reminder appropriate to include:

The fundamental difference between private action and governmental action—a difference thoroughly ignored and evaded today—lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force. It has to hold such a monopoly, since it is the agent of restraining and combating the use of force; and for that very same reason, its actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited and circumscribed; no touch of whim or caprice should be permitted in its performance; it should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power. If a society is to be free, its government has to be controlled.

Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”

Following, in the order in which they were received, are the posts for this Objectivist Round Up.

Sean Saulsbury presents Blake Scholl: Barcode Hero posted at The Independent Entrepreneur, saying, “I recently interviewed Blake Scholl about his new startup and how he and his co-founder, Jason Crawford, created the iPhone app Barcode Hero, and their overall business strategies.”

Burgess Laughlin presents Imam Rauf, "What's Right with Islam ..." posted at The Main Event, saying, “This post begins a brief, exploratory look at one advocate of mysticism, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chief organizer of the Cordoba Project, a.k.a. as the Ground-Zero Mosque. The focus is on his book, What's Right with Islam is What's Right with America.”

Greg Perkins presents Did Ayn Rand Have Something Against Children? posted at NoodleFood, saying, “The new site Objectivist Answers has really taken off since its launch! It now has over 120 questions with over 230 answers, one of which I'm featuring here. Come join the questioning-and-answering fray!”

Edward Cline presents "2081": Philosophy in Motion posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “I wonder how many readers remember John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, that scholarly paean to egalitarianism and institutionalized envy, from 1971. How would one dramatize, in visual and auditory concretes, its high-blown, insidious principles?”

Joshua John M. Lipana presents A John Galt Running for Congress: NRB Interviews Republican Candidate for Congress Stephen Bailey | NewsReal Blog posted at NewsReal Blog, saying, “Joshua Lipana interviews Republican congressional candidate Stephen Bailey for NewsReal Blog.

Rachel Miner presents Mommy, Teacher... Mixed Roles posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, “As my family prepares to move, my son has requested homeschooling. I share thoughts about evaluating the mixed role of parent and academic teacher.”

David Lewis presents facebook shenanigans posted at david in real life, saying, “ your facebook full of phony people? Let's find out!”

Jason Stotts presents “I was Anti-Gun, until I got Stalked” posted at Erosophia, saying, “A blog post about one liberal's conversion to gun ownership and the facts about likelihood of death through gun related accidents.”

Jim May presents Unchaining the Good: Liberty and Tabula Rasa posted at The New Clarion, saying, “An essay on the Objectivist view of "tabula rasa", and the consequences of the wrong view on political debate.”

Jim May presents The Passion of the Frightened posted at The New Clarion, saying, “Something for Objectivists to remember when faced with Whittaker Chambers' modern heirs.”

Zip presents Only By Permission #9 posted at UNCOMMON SENSE, saying, “Where soap bubbles breaking on the skin of a police officer constitutes assault.”

Jared Rhoads presents Bramwell, the drama posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying, “If you like medical dramas, good acting, or Victorian-era pieces, then you'll like Bramwell.”

Sean Saulsbury presents Craig Biddle: The Objective Standard (Ep. 5) posted at The Independent Entrepreneur, saying, My interview with Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, about his quarterly journal, covering topics of culture and politics from an Objectivist perspective.”

Stephen Bourque presents Orthodox Environmentalists Try to Pin Faith on “Deniers” posted at One Reality, saying, “Leftists can scarcely contain their dismay that losses at the polls in November will likely obstruct their ability to foist meaningful 'cap and trade' legislation upon Americans.”

Diana Hsieh presents Subjectivism and Relativism in Arguments about Personhood posted at NoodleFood, saying, “The theocrats demanding full legal rights for embryos claim to be enemies of subjectivism and relativism. In fact, they're good friends in two ways.”

Rational Jenn presents Discovery Toys Fundraiser posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “Make a child on your holiday gift list happy with some great educational toys AND help fund the Atlanta Objectivist Society--ALL AT THE SAME TIME! :o)”

Aditya Pawar presents The Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances, Part III posted at Axiom, saying, “Third installment on the often-forgotten First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances.”

Miranda Barzey presents Myers-Briggs Personality Types as a Tool for Introspection and Extrospection posted at Building Atlantis, saying, “How I used Myers-Briggs personality types to enhance my knowledge of myself and others and to improve relationships.”

Amy Mossoff presents Age-Appropriate Books posted at The Little Things, saying, “Some thoughts on picking good books for preschoolers, including my list of favorite books on our shelves right now.”

Amy Mossoff presents Age-Appropriate TV and Movies posted at The Little Things, saying, “Some thoughts on picking good movies and TV shows for preschoolers.”

Kyle Haight presents Thinking About The 2010 Midterm Election posted at HAIGHT SPEECH. “There's an election next week, and I thought it would be an interesting exercise in applying principles to concretes to sketch my thought process as I decided how to vote all of the candidates and issues on my ballot. This is the result.”

Ari Armstrong presents Bush First Provoked Tea Party Backlash posted at Free Colorado, saying, “Americans' anger with big-spending politicians began with the Republicans.”

Martin Lindeskog presents INTERVIEW WITH JEAN MORONEY | EGO posted at EGO.

Mike LaFerrara presents Election 2010: Is it 1966, or a Real Turning of the Statist Tide? posted at Principled Perspectives, saying, “Election 2010 has strong parallels to 1966, when the GOP scored major midterm congressional gains, blunting Johnson's Great Society socialism. Will the coming Republican resurgence be as hollow?”

Sandi Trixx presents Roundup for the Roundup posted at Sandi Trixx, saying, “A collection of posts from the past week dealing with legalizing pot, free markets and risk aversion.”

Earl Parson presents The Role of Ideas in Architecture posted at Creatures of Prometheus, saying, “I am speaking on "The Role of Ideas in Architecture" at FROST, in Denver, on November 6th. This is my announcement of the event, and some thoughts on my approach to this subject.”

Thanks to all the participating bloggers!

The next edition of the Objectivist Round Up will be hosted at The Playful Spirit.  Submit your posts using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yes. Yes. YES.

While I am delighted to conjure images of Madeline Kahn’s escort selection process in Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part 1, I am referring to my take on the referendum questions on Tuesday’s Massachusetts ballot.

Just for fun, I’ve linked to the state published arguments on both sides, and then added my own summaries of those arguments. 

As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Secretary of State Galvin wants you to know this just in case you read these arguments and think that a distinguished member of our state bureaucracy may have written them while being paid with your tax dollars.  

Your job: see if you can spot the plonker.*

Question 1: Should the sales tax on alcohol be repealed?

Yes:  While high excise taxes have always been placed on alcohol, it wasn’t until last year that alcohol sales were taxed both by excise and the state’s 6.25% sales tax.  A yes vote removes the sales tax.

No:  Drinking alcohol and smoking is not a necessity; therefore Twinkies should also be doubly taxed, but only if everyone else taxes them.  You can’t argue with that logic.

Question 2: Should MGL Chapter 40B (ss.20-23), a law allowing subsidized building of affordable housing to be constructed by qualified companies without benefit of local permitting, be repealed?

Yes: No:  Both arguments contain statements regarding the importance of “affordable housing” within a community.  What does it mean to have “affordable housing” within your community?  Who gets to decide whether or not housing is affordable?  Both arguments give credence to the idea that a governmental body should be able to exert some control over the price, number, and accessibility to private property. 

This is tricky because both of the writers are plonkers! But the guy supporting the repeal of 40B at least recognizes that giving state qualified companies, competing for state subsidies, a pass on local regulations – no matter how hideous and non-objective those regulations are – is a recipe for taxpayer funding of special interest disasters!

As a local conservation agent, I spent a significant amount of time with 40B applications. Compliance with state and federal wetlands laws permitted by local conservation commissions is not exempted by the law.  They’re just another permitting hurdle adding to the expense of subsidized affordable unit construction.  It wastes taxpayer money and invites corruption of local process.


Question 3: (The Big Kahuna) Would you vote to reduce the Massachusetts’ Sales and Use Tax Rate to 3% from its current rate of 6.25%?

Yes:  Forces state government to trim 5% of the fat. (Actually, I was pretty disappointed in Carla Howell’s defense of a lowered tax rate here. I think she could have supported her bulleted items with details and been much more articulate.)

No: If you vote to reduce the state sales tax, your children will probably be stupid, you may very well experience a home invasion, your house could burn down, and you are quite likely to fall through a bridge, or into a sink hole while driving, if you haven’t been poisoned already. The cost of this reduction amounts to about half of what we get from the state, therefore the state really needs it from us so it can give it back to us.  I mean . . .

I wanted to address these issues because a few days ago, I heard a woman on the radio who turned out to be from the League of Women Voters discussing the ballot questions.  She was extremely soft spoken, sounding more like a kindergarten teacher than a policy wonk, and her argument for voting NO. on Question 3 contained a very telling statement that went something like this: We need to keep the sales tax at 6.25% so that we can even out the loss of services to the communities who have voted not to override their budgets, much to their own detriment. This statement shows not only a disdain for the ability of people to make decisions for themselves—which is evident in every statist’s argument—but also, a clear contempt for the entire local system of government!  The fact that she spoke like a kindergarten teacher did not escape my husband who noted that all welfare statists treat adults like children.
Despite the fact that the voter information printed arguments supporting these measures are pragmatic rather than principled, we must continue to try to reduce the use of state force to its one proper purpose: the protection of our individual rights. 

A trilogy of YES votes on Tuesday may be the Bay Stater’s next best means. Unless you live in Barney Frank’s district, then grab your friends and neighbors and really have a party!

*Spot the plonker is a terrific expression I learned from What a Girl Wants (at 1:24) – a movie in which Colin Firth can be seen wearing leather pants at one point (I could tell you the exact point, but I don’t want to ruin the joy of discovery for you).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When Poetry and Prose Meet

Last week my favorite student at our homeschool was assigned to write a brief poem combining alliteration, end rhyme, internal rhyme, and near rhyme.  The first two are favorites around here, but the third can be tricky, and the fourth almost always escapes me.

The subject was of her own choosing and clearly reflects our book of the month. I was quite impressed by her efforts.

by Vabulous Me

The fire will flicker in a jolly way,
Glowing, not knowing where to stay.
T’will light up every house on every street,
Living and giving the warmth that we need.
And, oh! It’s so dangerous when out of control,
It’ll cackle and crackle and burn till it’s cold.
Humans, all different, have one common rift,
Hating or 'preciating Prometheus’s Gift.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tag, I’m It! You Could Be Too.

My friend Fiddler at Rockhound Place tagged me to answer five questions in a blog post and then to rope in another set of bloggers with my own questions that I’ve been burning to ask them. Okay, those aren’t the exact words, but close enough.

First, the questions from Fiddler and my answers:

1.   What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?

I distinctly remember curling up on my bed one summer morning and reading The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith.  I was completely enthralled and impressed that there was a book to go with the movie, and that the book was so much better than the movie!  I think I was ten. Sadly, Colin Firth was neither in the movie, nor, to my knowledge, does he own a Dalmatian.

2.   What type of music do you enjoy the most?  Please include examples!

That’s tough because my answer changes with my mood. Some baroque, classical, or operatic pieces can bring alternating tears of joy and sadness to my eyes, (Bach’s Cello Suites, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings  [modern, but classical in form], and The Flower Duet from DeLibes’ Lakme), then again, some 80s cheesy music can make me want to jump up and down with wild abandon (sometimes also known as dancing) in sheer delight (Come on Eileen springs to mind) as does some 70s rock (Just What I Needed). Celtic music generally makes me smile and tap my toes, and sometimes, just to gross out my children, I like to listen to and sing really loud pop music. Finally, any music video in which Colin Firth appears, let alone dances, is sure to bring a smile to my face.

3.   What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?

Languages.  Je ne parle pas les autres langues, donc, je ne suis pas le professeur ou le speaker bonne. But despite my grammatical deficiencies, my accent is, or once was, kick-ass, as evidenced by the fact that I came in second in a French speaking contest in high school; the first place went to a girl who pronounced “frog” correctly (guenouille).  I remember it as if it were yesterday . . .

Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l'odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :

In Love Actually, Colin Firth cannot speak French, either.

4.   What is your favorite hot drink?  Bonus points for including the recipe!

Coffee: ground-up coffee beans, hot, hot water.  How many points do I get for that? How about for hot coffee Colin? Take a vat of coffee and pour it over Colin Firth.

5.   About what new book, movie, or TV series do you want to let others know?

Good thing I got to answer this today – hands down, Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery. It started here last night and is really, really good.  Set in modern day London, it is fast-paced, and both Holmes and Watson are intriguing characters.  Holmes is simply a master of observation and deduction, while Watson is learning to live again. Their banter does remind me a bit of Lewis and Hathaway, but on speed.   It’s brilliant (if I may channel Colin Firth for a moment)!

Although I very much enjoyed answering these questions, particularly with the added incentive of mentioning Colin Firth at any and all opportunities, I don’t feel like asking others to do silly/fun things by linking to them specifically. Yes, I realize that this may violate the spirit of this fun activity, but tough darts. Instead, I’m going to ask that anyone who wishes to answer any of these questions do so on her own blog, or in the comments section of this blog, or on Facebook, or Twitter (that may prove difficult), or commit her answers to paper and pen and mail them to me.  This last part would take some serious dedication to answering my request.

For any of my blog-reading friends, I would love to know your answers to any and all of these particular questions (Grades will be based on completeness of response, proper use of grammar, and correct spelling – bonus points for making me laugh):

1.   What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
2.   What is the most meaningful thing you’ve ever done?
3.   What is the general activity you enjoy doing most often?
4.   What do you like most and least about blogging, if applicable?
5.   How do you feel about Colin Firth?

Or you can answer Fiddler’s questions to me.

It’s all about making your own choices.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scary or Sad

For two days, I have not been able to get this song out of my head, and I don't know why.

Today, it has been replaced by this one, and I do know why.

In both cases, I've enjoyed singing the songs in my head or out loud - and oddly, dancing mostly in my head which I didn't even know I could do - and therefore I fear that the scariest thing about having these songs occupy primo space in my mind is that it means I'm wicked old.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pun and Punctuation

Recently, I came across this fascinating Magritte-esque image in my book, The Dog: 5000 Years of the Dog in Art.

It’s a little play on the French words for au petit chien (to the little dog)= opticien.  Get it? 
Okay, it’s not so punny, but it was rather the artist that impressed me: Jean-Leon Gerome!
Gerome, whose major works can be found here, was a great painter in the Academic style and known for his historic and Orientalist works.  I knew him as the painter of images like these:  
Pygmalion and Galatea

Snake Charmer

Pollice Verso

So, does the first image, basically an advertisement, well outside of what I know to be his artistry, and reportedly admired by a young Dali, detract from his achievement?
And what about Jane Austen? In today’s Guardian, Jane was outed as having been a veritable libertine with dashes!  Does this tarnish her literary genius?
In both cases, I’m going to have to say, nah.
The incredible value of their respective bodies of work remain to speak for themselves.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Mountain

by Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)
from his 1915 North of Boston collection

THE MOUNTAIN held the town as in a shadow
I saw so much before I slept there once:
I noticed that I missed stars in the west,
Where its black body cut into the sky.
Near me it seemed: I felt it like a wall
Behind which I was sheltered from a wind.
And yet between the town and it I found,
When I walked forth at dawn to see new things,
Were fields, a river, and beyond, more fields.
The river at the time was fallen away,
And made a widespread brawl on cobble-stones;
But the signs showed what it had done in spring;
Good grass-land gullied out, and in the grass
Ridges of sand, and driftwood stripped of bark.
I crossed the river and swung round the mountain.
And there I met a man who moved so slow
With white-faced oxen in a heavy cart,
It seemed no hand to stop him altogether.

“What town is this?” I asked.

“This? Lunenburg.”

Then I was wrong: the town of my sojourn,
Beyond the bridge, was not that of the mountain,
But only felt at night its shadowy presence.
“Where is your village? Very far from here?”

“There is no village—only scattered farms.
We were but sixty voters last election.
We can’t in nature grow to many more:
That thing takes all the room!” He moved his goad.
The mountain stood there to be pointed at.
Pasture ran up the side a little way,
And then there was a wall of trees with trunks:
After that only tops of trees, and cliffs
Imperfectly concealed among the leaves.
A dry ravine emerged from under boughs
Into the pasture.

“That looks like a path.
Is that the way to reach the top from here?—
Not for this morning, but some other time:
I must be getting back to breakfast now.”

“I don’t advise your trying from this side.
There is no proper path, but those that have
Been up, I understand, have climbed from Ladd’s.
That’s five miles back. You can’t mistake the place:
They logged it there last winter some way up.
I’d take you, but I’m bound the other way.”

“You’ve never climbed it?”

“I’ve been on the sides
Deer-hunting and trout-fishing. There’s a brook
That starts up on it somewhere—I’ve heard say
Right on the top, tip-top—a curious thing.
But what would interest you about the brook,
It’s always cold in summer, warm in winter.
One of the great sights going is to see
It steam in winter like an ox’s breath,
Until the bushes all along its banks
Are inch-deep with the frosty spines and bristles—
You know the kind. Then let the sun shine on it!”

“There ought to be a view around the world
From such a mountain—if it isn’t wooded
Clear to the top.” I saw through leafy screens
Great granite terraces in sun and shadow,
Shelves one could rest a knee on getting up—
With depths behind him sheer a hundred feet;
Or turn and sit on and look out and down,
With little ferns in crevices at his elbow.

“As to that I can’t say. But there’s the spring,
Right on the summit, almost like a fountain.
That ought to be worth seeing.”

“If it’s there.
You never saw it?”

“I guess there’s no doubt
About its being there. I never saw it.
It may not be right on the very top:
It wouldn’t have to be a long way down
To have some head of water from above,
And a good distance down might not be noticed
By anyone who’d come a long way up.
One time I asked a fellow climbing it
To look and tell me later how it was.”

“What did he say?”

“He said there was a lake
Somewhere in Ireland on a mountain top.”

“But a lake’s different. What about the spring?”

“He never got up high enough to see.
That’s why I don’t advise your trying this side.
He tried this side. I’ve always meant to go
And look myself, but you know how it is:
It doesn’t seem so much to climb a mountain
You’ve worked around the foot of all your life.
What would I do? Go in my overalls,
With a big stick, the same as when the cows
Haven’t come down to the bars at milking time?
Or with a shotgun for a stray black bear?
’Twouldn’t seem real to climb for climbing it.”

“I shouldn’t climb it if I didn’t want to—
Not for the sake of climbing. What’s its name?”

“We call it Hor: I don’t know if that’s right.”

“Can one walk around it? Would it be too far?”

“You can drive round and keep in Lunenburg,
But it’s as much as ever you can do,
The boundary lines keep in so close to it.
Hor is the township, and the township’s Hor—
And a few houses sprinkled round the foot,
Like boulders broken off the upper cliff,
Rolled out a little farther than the rest.”

“Warm in December, cold in June, you say?”

“I don’t suppose the water’s changed at all.
You and I know enough to know it’s warm
Compared with cold, and cold compared with warm.
But all the fun’s in how you say a thing.”

“You’ve lived here all your life?”

“Ever since Hor
Was no bigger than a——” What, I did not hear.
He drew the oxen toward him with light touches
Of his slim goad on nose and offside flank,
Gave them their marching orders and was moving.