444 Slices
Medium 9780892727605

Shitdiggers, Mudflats, and the Worm Men of Maine

Down East Books ePub

Bill Roorbach

H ard work,

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Medium 9780253000958

The Common Life

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

One delicious afternoon while my daughter, Eva, was home from college for spring vacation, she invited two neighbor girls to help her make bread. The girls are sisters, five-year-old Alexandra and ten-year-old Rachel, both frolicky, with eager dark eyes and shining faces. They live just down the street from us here in Bloomington, Indiana, and whenever they see me pass by, on bicycle or on foot, they ask about Eva, whom they adore.

I was in the yard that afternoon mulching flower beds with compost, and I could hear the girls chattering as Eva led them up the sidewalk to our door. I had plenty of other chores to do in the yard, where every living thing was urgent with April. But how could I stay outside, when so much beauty and laughter and spunk were gathered in the kitchen?

I kept looking in on the cooks, until Eva finally asked, “Daddy, you wouldn’t like to knead some dough, would you?”

“I’d love to,” I said. “You sure there’s room for me?”

“There’s room,” Eva replied, “but you’ll have to wash in the basement.”

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Medium 9780253000958

The Force of Spirit

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

My wife’s father is dying, and I can think of little else, because I love him and I love my wife. Once or twice a week, Ruth and I drive the forty miles of winding roads to visit him in the nursing home. Along the way we pass fields bursting with new corn, stands of trees heavy with fresh leaves, pastures deep in grass. In that long grass the lambs and calves and colts hunt for tender shoots to nibble and for the wet nipples of their mothers to suck. The meadows are thick with flowers, and butterflies waft over the blossoms like petals torn loose by wind. The spring this year was lavish, free of late frosts, well soaked with rain, and now in early June the Indiana countryside is all juiced up.

On our trip to the nursing home this morning, I drive while Ruth sits beside me knitting. Strand by strand, a sweater grows under her hands. We don’t talk much, because she must keep count of her stitches. To shape the silence, we play a tape of Mozart’s Requiem from a recent concert in which Ruth sang, and I try to detect her clear soprano in the weave of voices. The car fills with the music of sorrow. The sound rouses aches in me from earlier losses, the way cold rouses pain from old bone breaks.

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Medium 9780253000958

The Uses of Muscle

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When I was a boy growing up on the country roads of Tennessee and Ohio, the men I knew all earned a hardscrabble living with the strength of their hands and arms and backs. They raised corn and cows, felled trees, split wood, butchered hogs, mortared bricks and blocks, built and wired and plumbed houses, dug ditches, hauled gravel, overhauled cars, drove bulldozers and backhoes, welded broken parts. They hunted game for the table in season, and sometimes out of season. Some of them had once mined coal in Appalachia or trawled for fish in the Great Lakes. Many had fought in Europe or Korea. They arm-wrestled at the volunteer fire department, smacked baseballs over fences at the schoolyard, and at the county fair they swung sledgehammers or hefted barrels to see who was the mightiest of the lot.

A brawny, joking, red-haired southern charmer who often won those contests was my father. He had grown up on a farm in Mississippi, had gone to college for a year on a boxing scholarship, had lost the cartilage in his nose during a brief Golden Gloves career. After moving north to Chicago, where he met the woman who would become my mother, he worked by turns as a carpenter, a tire builder, and a foreman in a munitions plant, until he eventually graduated to wearing a white shirt and sitting all day at a desk. He never liked the fit of a desk or a starched shirt, however, so as soon as he came home from the office he would put on overalls and go to work in the shop, garden, or barn. He could fix every machine we owned, from the car to the camera, and he needed to fix them, for we rarely had enough money to buy new ones. Although he grumbled when the tractor threw a belt or the furnace quit, as soon as he grabbed his tools he began to hum. He took pleasure in using his strength and skill, and I took pleasure in watching him. Around our house, whenever anything heavy needed lifting or anything stubborn needed loosening he was the one to do it. He could tame a maverick horse, hoist an oil-slick motor out of a car, balance a sack of oats on his shoulder, plow a straight furrow in stony ground, transplant a tree with its root-ball bundled in burlap, carry my sister and me both at once in his great freckled arms.

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Medium 9781771870849

What the Soul Knows

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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What is it in the soul, then, which makes it take more pleasure in the finding or recovery of things it loves than in the continual possession of them?

— St. Augustine

JUNGIAN THERAPISTS MARIE-LOUISE VON FRANZ and James Hall write that, although the human psyche does not ignore physical death, it regards it in dream and imagination as merely another event to go through, beyond which some form of life always persists. It’s as if the soul knows her states, and cannot envision non-being.

Hall and von Franz write of a dying person who dreams that a great tree is cut down. Immediately a new sprout appears from the stump. Another dreams that a candle in the windowsill burns out; instantly it appears, re-lit, on the outside. Many people return from clinical death with reports of tunnels and lights, and experiences ranging from infernal to sublime — and regardless of formal religious involvement, or lack of it. We ourselves may dream of our death, and be nonetheless present at the funeral; or of departed friends who appear alive and vigorous, yet we feel no conflict or oddity as the dream continues.

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