My artist friend Tresham was speaking through his magical puppets in a sing-song voice, one was a mermaid and one was a wild witchy woman named Esmeralda, or maybe she was Margarita? I did hear him say he gives them all a name like that. He was demonstrating a bit of what he will be up to now that he is no longer on the borough assembly (his term was up and he did not run again) and has turned 75. The good news, he said, is now he doesn’t have to be an adult anymore. He was wearing a maroon velvet and brocade jacket that fell to his knees and a necklace of sea lion teeth. He is embarking on a creative puppet show of a journey, basically busking his way south for the winter with a creative crew in tow and loose plans.
-Who will come to the puppet shows?- Someone asked.
-Oh probably no one, but they never do and that’s fine- he said, adding that they are pretty good, if he does say so himself.
I said I wished he had brought those puppets and worn that jacket to at least one assembly meeting. Now that would have been fun. I will miss him at meetings. He never was ruffled, and he spoke from his heart about loving the trees and water and beaches and nature, which sometimes drew snickers, which washed over him like a warm breeze, honestly he never did take any of it personally– at most, he was puzzled. “It says more about them than me,” he’d assure me when I asked how he was bearing up under the harshest critics during the failed recall campaign against us.
I realize that when a person is 40 and plays with puppets and dances with masks and scarves, and talks all spirit and woo-woo stuff, it could be a tad annoying, especially to those struggling to get ahead, and raise a family and work and cut the grass and paint the porch and make supper, but at 75 it is so inspiring. Happy birthday indeed. On the way home I wished I was 75, and that’s a first.
I’m also thinking of that Leonard Bernstein advice, where he told an up and coming composer how to lead an artistic life– Be assured that the people who love you always will, no matter what, and make sure the ones who hate you do it for who you are, and not for who you are pretending to be–
Speaking of pretending, the moose are still safe up the river in spite of our best efforts to attract them with moose sounds and catch them with stealth moves. It was an exciting time, with many moose, and especially many moose noises, more than I have ever heard. The bleat of cows, the grunts and breaking branches of the bulls. Once, peering into a meadow — remember we tip toe and whisper and walk without snapping twigs, or try to at least. I step when Chip does as we walk down the gravel bars. We use hand signals in the tree stand. Everything is so quiet, we listen and look.
So once, when suddenly there was a terrible racket– an awful cow call of short loud bursts and honks, and then the whacking of branches so roughly it was as if someone were scraping a 2X4 up and down a bumpy cottonwood trunk. We jumped, and then shook our heads in despair. This bad hunter guy will ruin the rest of our day, heck, even the rest of the week. He’s going to send every moose for miles around running for the foothills. But that’s hunting. Everyone has just as much a right to be there. You have to learn the calling skills somehow, and mostly it is trial and error. He was putting on quite a show, that’s for sure.
We were about to leave when we saw the cow that was actually making those ridiculous noises, and the thrashing bull with leaves in his (not legal) antlers was not far behind.
There is a lesson there.
We broke camp and came home even though I think the hunt will last one more weekend. The river was so low, with all the sunshine, that we had to drag the boat a good part of the way down. I got stuck in quick sand, briefly thank God, but we decided to get out while we could, and while we were still married. (One more river trip like that one and we might not be.) I’m kidding. Now. It’s been a few days.
I do love being married to my hunting partner. He has shown me a magical, wonderful world I never would have known or maybe even imagined, otherwise.