(for Maurice, Ray and Stan)
Prelude: This narrative came to me on the occasion of a root canal. The good news – it was only the tooth that died.
A Western Ballad by Allen Ginsberg (excerpt)
When I died, love, when I died
I wearied in an endless maze
that men have walked for centuries,
as endless as the gate was wide
when I died, love, when I died.
Let us expand our field of vision, past the end of the nose, over the rim of the eyeglasses and gaze out beyond the horizon, using a parallax field of vision, to observe a writer's life from two different lines of sight – the words, the body of work and the never-ending changes of the natural world.
In memory of three great men – Maurice, Ray and Stan – I ask you, dear reader/listener to consider this idea of Synchronicity: the experience of two or more events that are meaningfully, though not causally related. For the final story of these men, let us examine some related coincidences of nature when their last chapter was written. No, this is not The Twilight Zone; it is The Wake of the Flood.
In the early Fall, before the Colorado floods stole the headlines, Marigold and Fred spent a beautiful weekend in Stan and Ginny's mountain cabin. On that getaway trip, they hiked a six-mile trail to a high mountain lake and caught cutthroat trout in the alpine waters of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Their excitement was short-lived that day. The quick hit of a native trout on the line and the sight of the red-and-silvery cutthroat jumping out of the lake; this thrill was cut short by the storm clouds rolling in and the hikers had to leave too early, to hike safely back down the trail. That's when the deluge started – 90 minutes of high mountain rain showers, accompanied by the flashes of lightning and syncopated with thunderclaps to literally scare the daylights out of these two intrepid hikers. At the end of the trail, Fred was completely drenched, soaked through his Gortex windbreaker, suffering over-exposure from the cold and the rain. Not to worry. As they drove back to the mountain cabin, Marigold and Fred talked about the thrill of a cutthroat trout on the line.
Next day, they drove back from the mountains, on the Jamestown road, gazing at the town they had not seen in 30 years. Such a beautiful place, not quite ready for the floods that would soon change the landscape forever. In the weeks that followed, epic Colorado floods washed down from the Rockies, out the Platte River to the Nebraska plains. Towns and roads and lives disappeared and, in the wake of the flood, our dear friend Stanley passed quietly from this earth.