Fiction Fragment Series: Wilder Man & Cold

This post is part of the Fiction Fragment Series; this edition, “Wilder Man & Cold”

Colorado Backcountry Berthoud Pass /
Wood Stove
My wood burning stove

Around 5am he stumbled out of the sleep … somewhat like a man emerging from a heavily wooded forest … looked out the hut-window, saw night and snow.  His relative-friend, Melancholy, spoke to him from inside, triggered by darkness and cold outside.  He closed the old faded heavy wool curtain, shutting out the out, guarding the in.  The man was cold.  And the coldness he felt in his soul was … weighty.  His coldness was piercingly emphasized by the winter darkness, by the snow-cold.  The cast iron wood burning stove, immovable, was also cold, showing indifference with the man in this hut.    If a fire was laid, and started, then the stove would heat up, and give heat … to the man in this hut.  If there was no fire, then the stove would stay cold.  The man acknowledged the stove, in its indifference, and grabbed kindling, sticks, small log, and placed it all, intentionally, inside the stove.    Match, lit, its flame brought to a six-inch stick, and the man in the hut edged the burning stick was into the stove, to light the kindling, to bring about some fire.  His anxietous sense of urgency began to diminish.  He stoked the fire.  The warmth permeated his isolated, Siberian-like being.  A new urgency materialized, a passionate need for coffee.  With a similar focus, a sacred and fine tuned focus, the eccentric man in the hut began the detailed requirements for bringing an excellent cup of Mud to the appointed cup.  The cup was eventually filled with the nectar from coffee beans.  The man returned to the wood burning stove and tended to the fire; and then tended to his heart and soul.  The cold had lost some of its power.  But the battles would continue, until the other side of heaven.  And, he knew that.  He knew that all too well.



Haunts from Antarctic Wilder Man

CLOSURE.  I need some closure!

For years I have carried a distinct heaviness from a British Antarctic explorer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott.  He led an expedition to the South Pole.  They spent the winter of 1911 on Cape Evans, part of Ross Island, in a structure they built known as “Scott’s Hut”.  From here, Captain Scott selected four men to continue on for the South Pole.  Scott intended to get there before anyone else.  There was a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, taking an Antarctic expedition for the South Pole at the same time.  Thus, a race.  Robert Scott reached the South Pole (01/17/1912) and was unfathomably despaired to see a tent, left by Roald Amundsen.  Inside the tent a note addressed to Scott explained that Amundsen’s team had arrived on December 14th, five weeks before Scott’s five-man team reached the Pole.  Amundsen and his team made it back to Norway.  Scott and his five man team died on the Ice.

So, where do I come in?  I worked in an Antarctica field camp (there are quite a few of us Antarcticans) for five months, a breakfast cook.  One evening, I was told to grab my ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and climb into a Hagglund (below,

Hagglunds BV206 Personell CarrierWe were going to Scott’s Hut.  The place is remarkably preserved, due to cold temperatures / low humidity.  I stood by the long dining table, next to the chair where Scott sat at the head of the table.  I feel like I know this guy; impossible … as he died before I was born.  His story is haunting; his pictures are haunting.  Maybe its time for me to quit thinking about Scott and Amundsen.  Maybe not.  His mission was a tragedy, not very positive.  Here’s the rub: Scott’s story is a prolific example of courage / desire to take on dangerous adventures. Things get crazy, sometimes, in a harsh environment.  Scott’s diaries show that he went after this dream.

I think of Antarctica as a cold, merciless, jealous, mistress that refuses to let some men leave; such as the five men on Scott’s polar team, pictured below: (
Henry Bowers pulled the string for the camera. Robert F. Scott’s expedition team at the South Pole, Jan. 17, 1912. Left to right: Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans.

 Here is an image of his last diary entry.  The lines read:

“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott

Last entry

For God’s sake look after our people.”

Kiddo: Tilt Cove, Newfoundland Population?

Sitting in the Jeep with one of my kiddos, waiting on the Mrs. and our other kiddo to finish up in the Dr.’s office (for some non-crisis stuff) … I did not know I was on the verge of getting a dose of “Fun Facts” to know & learn from my daughter.  She had one of these kids’ magazines, and started reading out loud one joke after another.  Then she gets to the “Fun Facts”.

“Hey, Dad, do you want to hear some fun facts?”
“What color is the house of the President in Argentina?
“Don’t know, Babe.”
“Its pink.”
“Yeah! … Here is another one.  Do you know what the population is for Tilt Cove, in Newfoundland, Canada?”
“No, I do not.  What is the population for Tilt Cove, in Newfoundland, Canada?”
“Its five.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I’m serious.”
“No, you’re not.  You’re just pulling my leg.”
“No, Dad, I’m serious.  The population for Tilt Cove in Newfoundland, Canada is five.  No joke.”

Tilt Cove, Newfoundland caught my attention.  Here are some pictures of Tilt Cove, Newfoundland, Canada.

The Williams House in Tilt Cove, ca. 1910

The Home of Francis Williams, Tilt Cove / 1910. 

This next picture of the Williams House is different, due to an avalanche that hit the house in 1912, March 11th (photo credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: Smith Family Collection: A 24-98 …

Tilt Cove is a town located southeast of Baie Verte on Notre Dame Bay. The post or Way office was established in 1869. The population was 1,370 in 1901 and 57 by 1956. It has a population of 5 as of 2011 according to Statistics Canada, but another source gives the population as 7.”  (I always find good information on Wikipedia:  I hope you enjoy a little reminder, from time to time, of places beyond our little world.  It is good to get a different perspective.  Maybe I can get to Tilt Cove one day.  Maybe not: there are some other places that would come first.


Understanding Your Spouse? HA! Seriously?

Jack Gleason
Jackie Gleason

Men: what does this look like?  Different facial expressions?  With confusion comes frustration, when you are not anywhere near the same page.  I WANT to be on the same page, and I WANT to understand.  To be misunderstood can be a real bummer.  In some cases I’ve looked at the book cover and asked “Do I have the right book?”

Ok, I’m coming up short on understanding.  At the church, I wore a tux and she wore a white dress (she made it herself and it was phenomenal).  I figured that we had a good understanding of each other, and always would, and that this connected to the next part: living happily ever after.  As time went on, our understanding of each other was not happening 100% of the time like I expected. 

The ongoing talk of “I don’t understand my (spouse)!” (in some some cases accentuated by a whining dynamic) is legitimate, and I do wonder  why is it so difficult to understand each other.  False expectations?  And false expectations can produce a high intensity mixture of confustion and frustration, with a (crazy, I know, unrealistic) consideration that maybe my angel of a wife is manipulating me.

“You want me …to do what?”  “But, honey, we already talked about this.  You said you would do this for me.”

Frantically, my mind races back to the past, in an attempt to retrieve this profoundly important data, grabbing for the context, the time of day.   I then ask myself “Would I REALLY agree to this? No, I don’t think so.”   So then I ask my better half:

“What was I doing when you were saying this?”

  1. Why would we / should we . . . be able to completely understand our wives ALL the time?  We’re two different individuals.  And in my case, we are two different genders, she from the Upper Midwest, not far from Canada; and I am from the South … way south … where some folks are still wearing loin cloths.  Thus, the way we think, the way we are wired, and the culture we grew up could play a role in this “understanding thing”.
  2. If we completely understood each other all the time, wouldn’t that be boring?  Part of how we are drawn to each other is our differences.  And, if we did understand each other, what would be the motivation to move toward our wives, to develop a better understanding (which means becoming more empathetic)?
  3. Lastly, as men, we are wild (we’ve covered this already).  Wildmen are not predictable, unless you are a “Yes, Dear” husband.  This is part of why she married you because she found you interesting, and not boring.  She was attracted to your wildness, among other amazing characteristic.  It gets confusing because at times it feels like our wives are attempting to take our wildness away, and replace it for “tameness”.  That may not be what is happening, but it can certainly feel that way. 

Wrapping up I will say that my family, not just my wife but my kids and my neighbors, act as if they do not understand me because I swing on a vine from tree to tree wearing a bunch of bushes, letting out a “AHHHHHH-EEEE-YAH-EEE-YAH-AHHHHH ….”  And I have to leave for a rew months to go find pricless archaelogical treaures, and fight bad guys trying to take my stuff away.  She thinks that it is odd for me to wear a brown fedora / khaki pants / boots / brown leather jacket / leather pouch, and a bullwhip.  And when I howl at the moon, my kids and my wife and my neighbors don’t seem to get that.  So, it is just me?  Or are you guys dealing with the same stuff?

indiana jones 4 movie stills 02
indiana jones 4 movie stills 02


Igor & Eeyore, Male Depression, Slight Humor

cartoon image of angry man jumping up and down

My fifth grade teacher returns from his errand, bursts through the door, crazy eyes, searching each one of us for the ringleader for our prank:  “WHAT … is the MEANING OF THIS?!!  Things happen, it was a long time ago, and we lived through it.   But the question has transcended our years on the planet: (a variation) “What does this mean?”

Other end of the spectrum, a philosophy professor.  I brought in a book I was reading (by Kahil Gibran) … wanted his opinion. He looked at the book, paused for a good minute, and I knew he was not impressed.  “Sit down. (pause) In philosophy, I ask three questions: 1) Is this true?, 2) What facts support this?, and 3) What does this mean?”

‘Never forgot that discussion.  I focus on male depression with the work I do . . .  And with the multifaceted pieces of male depression, this necessary question comes up:

Cover of "I Don't Want to Talk About It: ...
Cover via Amazon

“What does this mean?”  I will once again reference this work: I Don’t Want To Talk About It by Terrence Real.  Excellent read, if you have any interest in male depression.   Because of my commitment, or eccentric desire, to think outside the box, I have thought of other metaphors for male depression.  A short ride, but go ahead and fasten your seat-belts: we’re going outside the box.
Igor going after a brain.

I was thinking of Igor, but I get Igor and Eeyore confused.  At times I think of Igor as a small mule with an abnormal growth on one of his shoulders, who works for a severe introvert, a temperamental bear … I found out that it was not a mule with a bowling ball-shaped growth on his shoulder.  It was a human being working for a guy named Frank … not a bear.  I think of Igor as an unfortunate gentleman who experienced a great deal of isolation, which is part of the whole depression dance. Igor has some performance issues and he goes to great lengths to become accepted.  He has a crush on a gal, Esmerelda, and she doesn’t really love him, but she doesn’t have the substance to tell the poor boy … Things get messed up real quick.

Quasimodo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, in one story he goes by “Igor”; and in another story he goes by “Quasimodo“, the Latin words “quasi” and “modo” also mean “almost” and “the standard measure” respectively. As such, Quasimodo is ‘almost the standard measure’ of a human being.’  Anyway, Esmerelda dies … and Quasimodo kills his boss who is in reality “Frollo“, which should NOT be confused with “Frodo”.

Let me add some words that might tie all this together.  Igor and / or Quasimodo are given a great weight to bear, which . . . for me ….  symbolizes a number of things, possibly depression.  Igor / Quasimodo deal with isolation, stigma, great sadness, and anger at times.  Those are just a few items that intersect (at times) with male depression.  I used the term “Eclectic View” because I do believe that the men who fight depression effectively MUST think outside the box and think from an eclectic perspective: CBT, Rogerian, Existential, NLP, RET … etc., In addition to thinking with responsible eclecticism, a depressive MUST acquire redemptive humor.  Oh, as for Eeyore?  He had an exchange with a bear that struck me:

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.  /  “Why, what’s the matter?” “Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” / “Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose. / “Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

Yes … an eclectic view.

Writers: Ever Heard of Lou Blonger?

Not referring to spectacles, as I am wearing now, to see clearly, as in “I can see clearly now the rain has gone …” (Credence Clearwater Revival / John Fogerty).   No, I am referring to readers: books, articles, blogs.  Not only writers, but readers.  Stephen King, in his book on writing, said:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Most of us are reading different things, these days.  I am oddly reminded of the importance of reading today.  I am visiting a little town two hours west of Denver, an hour outside Rocky Mountain National Park.  And I’ve always … always … always … been intrigued by the legends and stories of Mountain Men, Mountain Men Outlaws, and Mountain Men eccentrics. Front Cover One particular volume I’d like to throw out on the small table to the side of your infamous reading chair (maybe you have more than one reading chair): Outlaw Tales of Colorado by Jan Elizabeth Murphy.   Murphy covers one character in particular, who intrigues me: Lou Blonger, who came to Colorado in 1879.  

Lou Blonger was raising a great deal of hell, running con-rackets, a saloon, a gambling house.   What Murphy tells you about this ruffian is really wild.  Another “player” in the con-games in Denver, Soapy Smith, ” …was running the underworld (at the time) …  and his brother Bascomb were charged with the attempted murder of a saloon manager. Realizing he had lost control of the situation, Soapy left for the mining boomtown of Skagway, Alaska in 1897, relinquishing control of Denver’s underworld to Lou Blonger.”

From that point on, when Soapy Smith left Denver (1897) Blonger ran the underworld in Denver.  Lou Blonger was known as: “The Fixer“; “The King of the Con Artists“; “The Overlord of the Underworld“.  All of that came to an end in 1923, when he went on trial, was found guilty, sentenced for 7 years, but died in 1924 at the age of 74.

See what you miss out on if you are not a reader? Be a better writer.  Be a reader.

Possibilities Worthy of Consideration

Is it possible …

  • That I might be wrong?  That I might be right?  Sometimes we sense something; we see something; we realize something, and we don’t want to be right … Or we don’t want to be wrong;
  • That I am really THAT loveable?  Likeable, yes … I understand that.  But truly, full-blown and honorably loveable?
  • That I am finished “here”?  In this particular place of the journey?  Like … my work here?  Like … this friendship?
  • That things might be worse than what they appear?
  • That things are not as bad as what they seem?
  • That I am a selfish person?
  • To truly accept myself for who I am?
  • For me to take structural critique, appropriately?