Posted by on January 7, 2017

Where the Shadows Meet the Sun

Written by Brian Michael Barbeito

Painting by Maureen Barten

February 5, 2016

Where the Shadows Meet the Sun by Brian Michael Barbeito & Maureen Barten

I am Hayden Pomegranate. If I go to where the roads veer away from cities I can see the sprawling countryside. Perhaps one born and bred in the rural world seeks a metropolis. He or she might see such and muse; ‘Now that is where I shall find something.’ Maybe that person looks at the buildings and the electric lights, the highways and byways as it were, and sees potential for intrigue and drama or even something as flowery as love itself. But not I. I walked those streets and didn’t see much. Lots of steel and glass. It’s not evil per se. It just feels like it’s all spoken for and that you are treading somewhere many others have been. Heavy energies too. Not the softest vibrations and scents and feelings or intuitions. So sometimes I go the other way, towards the loams and the old growth trees, because, as I say, ‘It’s not cool to be “too cool.” It’s a funny way of denoting that the city is for people that want to make the scene, to see and be seen. Who can see you in the countryside? You must, for the most part, leave your ego behind. What are you gonna do, show off a fancy car or set of clothing to a farmer? So ya, it’s a different paradigm, a more expansive mindset. You notice the sun more, and the way the shadows come out to meet it from the wooded areas, the thicket and glen and the feral shrubs or tumbled stones.

But it would be Pollyanna-like if not altogether wrong to say the countryside–what I have seen of it–is without problems or weirdness. Its ups beat its downs by a long shot. Its beauty is sometimes raw and sometimes nuanced. Take the small leaf fluttering down to the forest path like a papier-mâché artifact or the descending spirit of a butterfly. Or moss growing in intricate patterns atop a big stone that has shades and areas of different textures. There are those, and there are the loud storms where the good rains rage like a loud chorus down upon fields. For the lack of light pollution, you can see the constellations more so. But, as I mentioned, odd things can take place, unsettling things that have no right or real resolution. And, like anything without closure, this can leave the heart and mind unsettled…

One time I parked my truck and took my dogs for a walk into the forest. It had begun to rain just as we got there, but not too hard. No lightning, so no huge danger. Plus, my canine friends were so eager to get their energy out that I felt they would be disappointed if we turned back. Plod on we did. A man I never saw before came out from down the way and was wearing full army fatigues and had a lot of gear. I noticed that it was not standard issue. I knew this because the local forests there actually are a place where the army goes sometimes to do some exercises. They are never armed, and run around and jump in the water and learn what it is like to be in the terrain.

It’s looking like rain, says the man. And then he calls out, Hello.

That is odd, I thought, to mention the rain first and then say hello. An odd guy. Everyone is odd in a way. The progressive people sometimes say there is no such thing as normal. It sounds so intelligent. Well, actually, there is kind of a thing as normal. There was something off here and I knew it but couldn’t figure what it was. His proxemics were off also–for he started talking twenty feet out–too far to begin. He appeared happy-go-lucky, but he was calmly nervous.

Hi, I called back. Yup, it’s a gonna rain for a while, I think.

Then he just kept going and didn’t make eye contact. I waited and glanced back. Gigantic rucksack, tools, flashlights, ropes. I wondered if he was living there somewhere.

To each his own, I figured. Isn’t that what Thoreau or Emerson would think? To each his own. I didn’t know for sure.

I wasn’t twenty more minutes in before I saw it.

An animal carcass, possibly a deer or large coyote, latched onto a tree by the knee. It was only about fifteen feet in from one of the main pathways. Hair. Blood. Bones. Head-Skull.

Dissonance.

Vertigo.

Confusion.

Those are what I felt and experienced. I had a lot of questions. What was it doing there? How long had it been there? What type of animal was it? And I suspected the strange man I had seen on the way out. I walked on. Was he hunting, and bragging? This was not a hunting ground. Was he an insane person? Had I been in any danger?

The rain poured on. It made a pattering song on the tops of the trees as if it was trying to tell me something. But I couldn’t make it out. There seemed to be things in the forests that I did not know about. Did it contain men who killed and displayed animals? Were there people that lived in secret or on the outskirts of even the countryside?

Who is to know without all the facts? One time there is a man and a suspicious feeling. Someone else swears they saw a Timber Wolfe – ‘this size,’ ‘this weight,’ ‘this way.’ One says there are no pumas in the woods. Another says a reliable source had one come to her window in the country home. An old lady is missing. Did they find her? The police find a skull lightly buried on a country lane. It’s a male but they can’t identify it. The weeks go on, there are brighter days, other conversations, and these things are forgotten about. These bits of odd occurrences are like shadows–elusive, and we prefer, rightly so, to step out of them and walk into the sunlight.

So I went home and hunkered down and waited. It rained all night that night. The water, the man, the carcass, the sky–everything dark or darkening. I sat at a sill and wrote in a sketchbook of thumbnail drawings at the bottom, the words:

 You can’t spring up to the sunlight just because you want to. You have to wait sometimes.

And then it rained harder. So pronounced was the storm against the cedar shakes that, where it sounded like marbles before, it had become thousands of fists battering down against the hat of the house. There was no moon and sheets of precipitation turned even the dimly lit street below opaque and then into a blackened canvas. I became lost in this and somehow sensed the terrible prowess that was devoid of light. It was a force in the world, like gravity, and I wondered how we would ever transcend it. The mind reeled then, under water-fists, under the roof and sky that had lost their constellations, moon, and light. It sifted through what felt like an impenetrable dark as it thought about man and woman and what they do and think. The events then come like visions with dusty freckled light, poorly pixilated and with no sound, only images:

A man holds another man to the ground over an event that is of indeterminate origin but feels like an argument over a woman. There are other men. The man is wounded and the one on top bangs the injured man’s head against the ground.

A woman, shown kindness and help from a good soul, is possessed of either an actual demon or an anger and hatred so fierce that it appears like a demon. She shoots haughty, hateful, exaggerated glares upon the man for no reason other than she is threatened by his light, which is just the light, any light. It is the light of the world and will prove victorious, but first this–these things–violence and wished for violence.

A boy is there and has a headache. He asks his angels and the environment for assistance and there is no relief. He suffers, and nothing will break the ache for days and days. It’s the pain of a torrent of shards of glass being stuck into the skull…

And then, through what felt like a great form of Providence itself, I fell into a dreamless sleep.

Eventually, the sun would come up. I could and would go again to the rural places and see the good souls–that aged man with the kind eyes, his beagle on a long rope sniffing along; everything trustworthy and good in his aura, as far as I could surmise and sense. The horse riders, for the most part, calm, friendly. And the landscape itself–labyrinthine pathways with bits of green leaves coming out to meet your arms. A series of wide and somehow happy wild ferns. The sounds of barking or a small river. And the wind, it is coming to meet you through the Pines that live and thrive on that summit up there. They wait to receive the snow on their needles in the winter. They let the raindrops cling to them in the summer. Yes the wind, coming down from somewhere and whistling through the entire landscape for long moments. And maybe, against all logic and reason, the wind comes from the sun. Both are of the positive pole. One is warm nurturer painting a good glowing and life-affirming fire on all. The other calms the warmth if it gets too full and sings a song along the way. In a manner, everything is going to be all right. In a way. You just have to get through the strange days like the one with the odd man and the carcass. You have to call them strange and unsettling when they may be in actuality something worse.

Yes, you just have to get through the darkened and confusing areas and keep heading the best you can to the places where the shadows finally meet the sun.