Letter From Claverack 08 23 15 Thoughts about mortality and the state of the world…

It is Sunday evening and I am on the deck, looking over the creek. Insects are humming in the background and a small plane is flying over me. I hear the soft sounds of the engine, drifting off into the distance.

I am content tonight though I have lots of work I need to do and have not done this weekend.

Long ago and in the faraway, I met a man who became my friend. When I moved to Columbia County, mutual friends told us that we were close to each other. They gave me his phone number and I left a message for him. They called him and said Mathew was close by.

It was a Saturday. I went to Walmart that day, right after the messages had been left for each other and we bumped into one another. Since then, we have spent Christmases and Thanksgivings together and many other nights. He and his wife are my closest friends here in Columbia County.

It is a troubling time for him and I spent the weekend with him, talking and listening and carousing a bit as was our nature back in the day.

He has a spot on his lung and there will be an operation on the 23rd of September. He is, understandably, concerned. It is more than a little scary and we spent part of yesterday talking about mortality. He also has a son who is dysfunctional and in trouble. I know him and we talked about him; what to do, what not to do. It is a difficult conundrum for my friend.

We talked about him yesterday and today.

This morning I volunteered to do the coffee hour at Christ Church. Now that I am spending more time in Columbia County I am doing my best to become more integrated into the community. This seemed a way to do that since I have been going to church there for the last couple of years.

I have to say I did a good job. Everyone raved about the coffee service. I had fresh fruit from the Farmer’s Market and muffins and prosciutto and provolone and nuts and olives and bagels and cream cheese. It was a wild success.

Mother Eileen, the Rector, kept calling me “Frankie” and I have no idea why so I spent the morning correcting people who were calling me “Frankie” and telling them my name was “Mathew.” So it goes.

My friend and I made a round last night and today of new places that have opened in Hudson. There is a place called “Or” which has opened in what used to be a body repair shop and a place that I think is called “The Back Bar” on Warren next to the food trucks and an expensive antique shop.

Hudson, anchor of Columbia County, seems to be a “happening place.” My friend and I commented on how much has happened here since we moved here; he in 1999 and me in 2001.

A squadron of geese just flew overhead. They are fewer than they used to be and I wonder why that is. Ten or twelve years ago they were everywhere and now their presence is special.

What is special is being able to sit on the deck and look out at the creek and to write and think and ponder the universe.

The world here is serene though it is not serene anywhere else.

I wonder what I can do to change the state of the world? I’m not sure. IS fights its vile war and condemns people right and left for not adhering to their fundamental views of Islam. Gays are thrown from rooftops or stoned to death, as are adulterers. Yazidi women are systemically raped and mistreated.

Egypt is becoming a country that all are frightened to go to. At least 10 percent of the Syrian population are refugees. The world is full of pain. I know it and do not know what to do about it and am deeply trouble by not knowing what I can do.

I live is a soporific spot on earth. I could turn my back on the world’s troubles but I can’t.

What to do? I ask, as I sit, looking over the peaceful Claverack Creek.

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