Aroostook County Ramblin' from a Sporting Journal Columnist

“Prose and Cons”

Sometimes I write for no reason, about nothing in particular. When I get tired, I slap on a period and call it good. The results vary, but typically turn into something like what follows. Enjoy.

The wind in November is a menacing tyrant, terrorizing the flesh through layers of wool and cotton. Northern Maine takes no prisoners in late Fall, testing the fortitude of even the most rugged outdoorsmen. Growing up in the northernmost stretch of the State has taught me plenty on preparedness and perseverance, both in facing unfavorable weather and in daily life. I guess you could assume I’ve come to appreciate comfort, in all of its subtle and not so subtle forms. While the natural beauty of the outdoors draws me regardless of unforgiving brisk temperatures, indoors offers a different kind of warmth that cannot be found among wind and snow.

Firewood burns continuously, slow lingering flames devouring seasoned timber and casting heat outward. What once stood tall has fallen victim to a steel blade and a need for precious warmth. At one time reaching toward the northern sky, this fate could not have been known to the mighty cedar. Still, I take pleasure and relish in its demise. Shadows dance a devilish dance; flames illuminating what would otherwise be a room consumed by darkness. I forget the world has moved on, replacing natural light with bright charges of a different sort. Technology has given me comfort and convenience, too often asking for silence and classic simplicity in return. Not the simplicity that accelerates modern life’s plan, but the kind that allows for reflection and free thought. Tonight I step back a mere century, to a time when life threw curve balls, but men were too busy swinging the bat to complain. 

My whiskey sings a soothing tune; ice striking glass as I draw it down. This bottle is almost empty, but the bookshelf holds relatives eager to partake in the nighttime ritual. Many chapters remain, but my book commands undivided attention. Turn of the century industrialists invest everything they have, taking costly chances to build what would later become the only America I have ever known. I disappear into a distant world long forgotten, each page pulling me further inward. Transfixed on each line, I pause only to drown my thoughts with another sip. I read not for pleasure, but for purpose. I read of entrepreneurs taking big risks for big rewards. I read of success and failure, and recognize instantly the origins of the American dream. As I finish the chapter, suddenly my problems seem trivial. Written word has a way of shrinking the world down to a more manageable size, and like the Vanderbilts and Carnegies of yesteryear, I too learn through books how important it is to establish goals and manufacture my own success. I close the book and place it in the table; enough lessons for one night.

Flames cling to life as the fire reduces itself to burning embers. A graceful assault bound to end in death, the glowing coals now cast more light than heat. Smoke fills the room, I adjust the damper to clear my view. My retreat from the elements has given me new life; one part fire, one part whiskey. The combination warms every inch of my soul. Inspired, I grip a pencil and give birth to line upon line of thoughts. These thoughts fill my head in no particular order, and grace parchment in the same way. I’ve gained a flickering fortune sitting silently by the fireplace tonight, with only natural light present to guide me home. 

The End.

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