superstitions, trees, publishing – we’re all semiconductors

We’re moving. There’s a place in Lake Placid that’s right on Mirror Lake and we’re nabbing it, like theives the crown. I find out the other day that the elderly woman living there now “doesn’t think it’s a good idea”; she’s worried about my five year-old and the water. Where or when and why do we get to a point in our lives when fear-of-the-worst becomes a governing force? What makes this happen?

I’d looked at another place a few months before in Saranac Lake on Moody Pond and the same thing there – the owner, a woman from Connecticut, said, “This might not be the best place for your son. The pond is nearby and there’s a creek running through the property.” What?! I said to her: “But the waterfront is why I want to move here.” The poor woman. She’s picturing my son drowning in the four-inch-deep creek, lying on his side, lips pursed to suck up the water like a fish on a boatfloor gasping for air. This is insane to me. My son is intelligent. My son listens to me. And – why am I even justifying? It’s crazy. This shit would never cross my mind but for the people with their shaking hands and jittering eyelids waiting for the worst to happen in every situation. And why do I get frustrated? Because I believe – and I really do, on some base level – that it taints me. That fear is communicable; it’s viral and it’s potent. And some wackjob’s concern about the unthinkable happening is enough to infect you. You have to have equally potent antibodies. You have to have a strong immune system and fight it off. You have to take these fear-governed little old ladies and push their wheel-chairs over the edge of the cliff so that their deepest fears come true, and you’ve helped to validate them by fulfilling their prophecy and are now free of it yourself. This is something like the boyscouts are talking about, I think.

Now: Maples, balsam, yellow birch, beech, pine, ash and poplar. No species is safe from me and my chainsaw. Five days of hard-logging is now behind me. The thing about the Adirondack mountains is, you can’t sum them up in a frigging blog post. I could say things like: back country roads, glassy ponds bearing a patina of mist, kinship to “the Shire,” kinship to wintry hell, the Feeling, the essence, the joys and the hardships, the richness of sustainability, straw-bale houses, living roofs, the cottages, the history. I’m not so much interested in “the history.” Don’t get me wrong – the classic Adirondacks is way cool, you know, the guides and the skinny bearded men (and women) standing for the old tin-type photos in front of a great camp with those haunted eyes, holding a peavey or a maul in front of them. They surely braved the wilds. But I’m interested in the Adirondacks now, and I’m interested in the artisans and the survivors more than the stodgy, banausic homes with their overwrought twigwork and sense of entitlement. Nathan Farb said to me that the “population of the Adirondacks is aging,” and that there were “fewer and fewer true craftsmen left.”

Finally, publishing. I’ve got some. And it tastes really good. Praises be to wunderagent Jeff Santoro, a true craftsman unto himself of the new order – a marketing whiz who took a Shelburne, Vermont company from three employees to twenty employees by facilitating those higher conversion rates. Results-driven Santoro has created his own small publishing house and has taken on “Rehabilitation.” The book will soon be in stores in the Burlington area, the Placid area, and the New York City, uh “area.” It will also be available, via the “largest U.S. book wholesaler” in online bookstores within 6-8 weeks. I’ll be doing a book tour and signings for some time to come. Meanwhile, I’ve been hard at work preparing for the double-release of *sister* novels “Stender” and “Highwater” for this early winter, as well as a short-story / novelletta compilation called “Stories,” and an untitled collection of poems and writings, (PLUS a top-secret project i cannot discuss.) There is a good deal of concern about the technology today, and the idea that anyone can publish anything. A good friend and lifetime public educator R. Stevan said to me recently, “Indeed, it may be up to young scholars and writers like you to find ways to keep books alive (books in the broad sense, not pasteboard covers and paper in between with ink on them), or we may begin to lose what we can gain from the insight of novelists and poets.” This is my intention and my solemn promise.


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