Friday, July 3, 2009

July 3, 4 p.m., on Hwy 2 West of Tioga (2nd entry)

We will know these lands by their winds -

I am in the shade of a parked combine that is hooked to an antique tractor. Neither are functional and neither are we. “Stopped” we are actually, by a merciless wind, straight out of the east and contrary to the nature of things, according to Hoyle and others. Fourteen miles north of Williston Hwy 2 turns due east and into this wind. We persisted against it with its battering gusts for several hours - making 3.5 to 5 mph. Until on the crest of a hill, the wind at its peak, we caught a glimpse of the limitless and featureless horizon before us and either lost all heart for the struggle or came to our senses, depending on your point of view, and sought refuge - at least until the wind died. “Live to fight another day,” he said, I said. “We have nothing to prove, right?” we both asked. “This can’t last forever.”

We pitched our tents behind a rise that gave slight shelter and have spent the last five hours reading and napping - until now. Dave’s gone for water at a nearby pond - which we will purify - as we have little, and we will make a night of it here. We’re sailors becalmed, explorers waiting out a blizzard, a sandstorm! In this land of endless waving green grass and pounding wind, it is easy to use these metaphors and feel a little better than just a bicyclist stalled 50 yards from a well-traveled four-lane highway. Our feed stores are minimal - a plum, few cherries, some crackers, a little cheese - unless the water is useable - then we’ll have a treat of beans and rice.

I’ve finished the book “The English Patient” - the movie was good but doesn’t do it justice. Read it if you haven’t. Re-read it if you have. Haunting themes and wondrous accounts of the struggles of attachment. It’s been a great companion, and I have that sense of sorrow one can get when a good book is finished.

We should have a night sky as memorable as the book tonight, if not overcast.

Pat Sewell

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