Monday, October 13, 2003



Throughout my life I have generally tried not to irritate the universe and its larger components, though there have been times, particularly in certain boneheaded regions of my youth, when I dared the big U to have at me one-on-one, but ever since my miraculous survival I have generally tried to stay on the good side of what can in effect squash me like a bug with any one of its infinite little fingers.

When you build your house high on a mountainside above a lake, though, with the nearest wind-breaking land formation some hundreds of kilometers away, you're in effect daring the universe to go ahead, see if you can blow me and my stuff off the mountain, just try it, which is not exactly what I had wished to say to anything so big at my age, or planned to seek to prevent when I decided to live here.

Which is what the universe was trying to do, using the much more it had at hand, this afternoon where I had earlier stacked my barrel staves out in the wind tunnel for easy chainsaw access, and foolishly desired to protect them from the elements with tarps held down by rocks and big barrels staves and logs, which items the big typhoon flicked off without even breathing hard.

This irked me. I rashly insisted that the staves remain covered no matter what the damn wind wanted, and for some reason the universe didn't like that. It didn't like that at all. Maybe it was my attitude, but as soon as those tarps blew off I was out there cussing and ready to go like at some bully bothering my kids. No I'm not backing down, no way; go ahead universe, hit me with your best shot. Not a good thing to say to a universe.

It is not commonly known that barrel staves take on new properties in a 120 mph gusting wind, as do rocks and logs, generally so morbidly passive in their addiction to gravity. But when propelled by tarps unfolded into flapping acreage by a sudden mini-typhoon that surprises even the weather man (it was only here for an hour, but what an hour), they take on a new and very ballistic grace, and become very target oriented.

As I held on to one or the other end, and then the one end again, of a tarp unfolding in all directions billowing and bucking like it was full of bulls trying to leap off the mountain while chucking rocks and logs and big oaken barrel staves at this foolish human trying to pin it all to the ground with those very items, I suddenly felt strangely mythological. Using my mythological wiles (not the smarmy ones I learned in school, the other ones), I finally managed to narrowly pull off a sort of quasi-victory.

Or so I thought. But the universe has always had a bigger perspective than even mythological egos can muster. And it does not forget. When I looked out the window later, I saw that the big wind had simply toppled the other woodpile out back and gone away, leaving rain pouring on it. I could swear I heard a distant whispery laughter in the leaves, but it must've been only the last of the wind. Universes can't laugh, can they?

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