Saturday, June 6, 2015


"I don't really know what happened," he said. "The moment I entered those gardens I was a man overwhelmed by a sense of living."
     "How could a garden, just seeing a garden, make a man happy," the maid asked."
     "And yet what I am telling you is quite an ordinary experience and other people will often tell you similar things in the course of your life.  I am a person for whom talking, for example, feeling at one with other people is a blessing, and suddenly in that garden I was so completely at home, so much at my ease, that it might have been made specially for me although it was an ordinary public garden.  I don't know how to put it any better, except perhaps to say that it was as if I had achieved something and become for the first time, equal to my life.  I could not bear to leave it.  The wind had risen, the light was honey- colored and even the lions whose manes glowed in the setting sun were yawning with the pure pleasure of being there.  The air smelt of lions and fire and I breathed it as if it were the essence of friendliness which had, at last included me.  All the passers-by were preoccupied with each other, basking in the evening light.  I remember thinking they were like the lions.  And suddenly I was happy."

Quoted from The Square, Marguerite Duras, Grove Press, 1965.

Jardin des Plantes, September 1981.

Friday, June 5, 2015


"Not that Watt desired information, for he did not.  But he desired words to be applied to his situation, to Mr. Knott, to the house, to the grounds, to his duties, to the stairs, to his bedroom, to the kitchen, and in a general way to the conditions of being in which he found himself.  For Watt now found himself in the midst of things which, which if they consented to be named, did so as it were with reluctance... Looking at a pot, for example, or thinking of a pot, at one of Mr. Knott's pots, it was in vain that Watt said, Pot, pot...It resembled a pot, it was almost a pot, but it was not a pot of which one could say Pot, pot, and be comforted."

Watt, Samuel Beckett, Grove Press, 1970, with Missy.


The Swift River


Vintage trail marker, New Hampshire

Pine Knob Shelter, Maryland

Trail Junction, Maryland

Fontana Dam, North Carolina, October 1971, nearing the finish of my end-to-end hike that began in Maine in June.
(Lowell Branham photograph)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland several years ago was a woman trail-named Louisiana Lou.  She was an elderly woman by trail standards and she carried an enormous pack by anyone's standards.  She even had it covered for rain though it was a chilly January day with plenty hazy sun.  There was no rain or snow in sight.
     We said hello and agreed that it was a great day for a hike.  I couldn't help but comment on the size of her pack:  it was the usual sign of a novice or a long trip.
      "I camped near the Pogo spring last night.  I'm on the way down to the parking lot at I-70.
     She was midway of only a 4 mile hike.  But she was no novice.  The fact she carried so much gear for a minor hike was her style; she was cheerful, and wasn't burdened by anything it seemed, including her pack.
     "I've got my cell phone with me," she went on to say.  "I keep hiking in and out of service areas, but luckily I had service where I camped last night.  My boss called me this morning and said he needed me at work by eleven this morning.  I work at the Burger King in Hagerstown."
     As she turned south and walked away I looked at my watch.  It was almost ten o'clock.