Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Cape Cod’

English: Henry David Thoreau, photograph taken...

Henry David Thoreau decided that it would be a good thing to take Horace Greeley‘s advice to, “Go West Young Man.” However, our Henry being the imaginative sort decided that instead of fording rivers, climbing mountains and crossing deserts to get to some fabulous place like California, to confine his westward migration to a few mile walk from his home to his cabin on the shores of a small nearby lake. There he was able to spend his mornings allowing his mind to wander as it will and be back home for lunch. It the afternoon he would return to his not so remote and not so rustic cabin and further indulge himself in the conceit that his perceptions of the natural world around his retreat revealed to his mind and imagination all of the wonders that others experience in old Californy or wherever.

After about a year or so, tiring of the rigors of the remote country life, Henry then took a rowboat trip up the stream affectionately called the Connecticut River and dreamed he was traveling down the Mississippi. Among his other adventures, our Henry travelled for a while in remote Cape Cod where he met a man who had seen George Washington riding his horse and recalled something or other about the attractiveness of George’s leg.

Now I write this, not to make fun of Henry, but as an explanation as to why I have always viewed him as a role model. Day dreams can be adventures too.

My morning walk to through my neighborhood in Bangkok Thailand where I now live for part of the year to the health club and back elicits in me similar transcendental impressions to those old Henry experienced in his New England perambulations. Alas, I am not Henry. I cannot write as well as he, nor are my impressions as…well transcendental.

Henry during his boat trip marveled at the humanity of a man standing on a bridge as his boat passed under, spitting in our Henry’s face. I could never do that; marvel at his humanity. Spitting in someones face is beyound the realm of possibility for me. In fact as often as not, I can find nothing particularly interesting memorable or romantic about what I see, hear or otherwise experience. Sometimes a dirty, boring street is just that, a dirty boring street.

I live on a dirty boring street in Bangkok Thailand. My apartment building sits on one side of a  cul-de-sac that after a few jogs exits at Soi Nana, the neighborhood main drag and one of Bangkok’s prime red light districts. Along the little street from my cul-de-sac to Soi Nana there are two hotels and a cement wall that comprise the visual horizon and little else. A man with the blue shirt almost always stands across from one of the hotels, day and night. I haven’t the slightest idea why. Sometimes a motorbike, or taxi or the Boss Suites Tuk-tuk goes by. Now and then a ying (young woman) who works nearby passes, going to or from work in one of the local bars or Go-Go places; outside of that nothing.

Oh, once I saw an injured bird hopping about on the street. I did not touch it since I have an aversion to touching small living things other than dogs and cats and some humans. Large animals I have no aversion to and can be persuaded to touch a horse or even an elephant. Other large animals are ok too, except bears. I am pathologically afraid of bears. I did touch one however, once.

I was walking along one of the seedier parts of Istanbul when a couple of Russian Gypsies came along leading a bear on a rope that led to a ring in the bear’s nose. I was allowed, for a price, to pet the bear. I paid and did so. It made me sad. The sight of the creäture who so terrorized my nighttime dreams as personification of arbitrary and unlimited power reduced to such a state repulsed me. I still have terrifying dreams of ursine ravening. I used to run away as the beast bursts from shadows, but now I turn and apologize for the ring and the rope.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable

Dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was one of those remarkably beautiful mornings. So as I sat in the cafe sipping my café latte and gazing at the yellow sand beach and the stippled water reflecting the almost empty blue sky, of course, my thoughts wandered off to ruminating on death and dying.

This is not such an odd juxtaposition at my age, especially when recently I began to wonder if my preference for drifting through life requires some adjustment when faced with the inevitable decline of my physical and mental faculties over the next decade or so.

On the other hand, as I so well know, the end may occur while simply standing on the sidewalk looking forward to the future. Or, as the Great Dane mused whether “..to take arms against a sea of trouble..” is really worth it.

This led me to think about my grandfather who bore the same name as I. People called him, “Big Joe,” “Old Joe,” “Pepino” or just “Joe” as the situation required.

I often think about him because I believe, the great dark shadow cast by him stunted the growth of all members of the Petrillo family caught in its gloom.

Big Joe approached life as something to be beaten into shape with his fists or accepted with neither emotion nor regret. When he was a young man he killed another man for calling him a guinea. Convicted of manslaughter, he served about a year in jail. After his release, he fought his way to head one of the first and certainly the largest construction companies in the US owned by an Italian immigrant at that time. When during the Great Depression caused him to lose everything he did not complain and eventually went back to working as a common laborer.

In his nineties, he lived in a nursing home. There, he developed the obsession that were he to lie down on his bed he would surely die. So, every night he sat upright in his chair facing the door to his room ready to fight death to the death so to speak. No, there was no going silently into “that dark night” for old Joe. He was prepared to beat death into submission were the caped skeleton so foolish as to walk through that door and into his room.

One night when he was about 85 years old and working at night directing traffic in the parking lot of one of his son’s restaurants on Cape Cod, he called me on the phone. He said he might be arrested and thrown in jail (not for the first time in his life). When I inquired as to what it was that made him think this, he told me that evening he directed an automobile with two young men and their dates into a parking space. The young man driving ignored him and parked instead closer to the entrance to the restaurant and got out. Grandpa (as I called him) went up to the driver to remonstrate with him and ask him to move his car into the space where he had directed him to go.

The young man responded by saying, “Get out of the way old man,” and pushed “Big Joe” aside.

Shortly thereafter the ambulance took the young man to the hospital suffering a broken nose, the loss of a few teeth, a couple of broken ribs and various contusions and abrasions as they say in the legal trade. I  later learned that the young man remained in the hospital for two weeks.

“Don’t worry grandpa,” I laughed, “If you are arrested, I will take the case, put you on the stand and ask you one question, ‘How old are you, Mr. Petrillo.’ Besides, I suspect the young man will be too embarrassed to press charges.” I was right, he did not.

Anyway, one night midway through his 98th year, a kind-hearted nurse, after giving him his medicine watched him doze off. Believing that he must, at his age, be uncomfortable sleeping upright in a chair, she lifted him up  into his bed. They found him dead the next morning.

That is the way it is with old man death, he may not be strong enough to wrestle you into your grave but close your eye for a moment…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: