LOCAL VIEW —Mild then Wild—

Learn to never trust the mild winds of March
For too often they’re preludes to wild gales.
In eighteen-eighty-eight winter lacked starch
And spring smiled early. Fishermen set sails
South of Long Island upon balmy seas
And then saw the north turn black, heard thunder,
And had to fight a blizzard’s fierce, fast freeze
On reefed sails to get home. I now wonder
What blandishments are suckering my mind?
I’m old and wise, but so were those sailors.
Our intellect’s not smart, as it’s inclined
To think it is. Its predicted failures
Call conifers evergreen: Meet the larch.
Learn to never trust the mild winds of March.

Winter delivered a splendid sucker-punch today. At 2:00 PM I was standing in the sun, with temperatures up close to fifty, (10° Celsius), and by 5:00 PM the wind was roaring a gale and whipping snow into my face, as temperatures plummeted down through the 30’s towards freezing. I went from blissfully thinking how long it has been since I felt a wind I could call kind, to cursing the cruelty of the wind. 

Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) once remarked that in the final rounds of a boxing match one reaches a point of exhaustion and brain-damage that caused one to enter a sort of dream land, a la-la land where one starts to deeply appreciate their opponent even as one strives to slug them unconscious. One sees the beauty of an opponent who is trying to knock them out.

This la-la land is quite beyond the consciousness of the politically correct, who disapprove of all battle on general principles. They simply cannot imagine how it was that Vikings could imagine heaven was a battlefield, or how a sensitive poet like Wilford Owen could write, about the horrible trenches of World War One,  “I, too, have seen God in mud.”

Likely the politically correct are blinded by their need to be “independently wealthy”,  which is just another way of saying you don’t have to battle to survive, like ordinary people do. The politically correct like to imagine they are given more time to contemplate truth, and are therefore more able to see truth, and therefore should govern people who do need to battle to survive. The fact of the matter is that the politically correct have removed themselves, if they are independently wealthy, from a profound truth, which is that we need to battle to be spiritual.

Oddly, it is the boxer in the ring, actually battling, who is most likely to enter the la-la land where you love your enemy. Meanwhile the politically correct, who like to say “love your enemy” until the cows come home, care more about the pensions that keep them independently wealthy than the fact the funds from those pensions come from exploiting the poor, or the fact that they are exploiting the very people they profess to love.

Of course, we’ve known about this nonsense for centuries. 200 years ago, the 24-year-old poet John Keats, thirteen stanzas into a poem about the ferocious sincerity of teen-aged first-love, abruptly produced these three amazing stanzas about the politically correct:

With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver’d loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip;—with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush’d with more pride than do a wretch’s tears?
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mount
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?
Why were they proud? Because red-lin’d accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

Therefore, when winter delivers a blow to my jaw, I count myself lucky to be on the real battlefield and in the actual battle, the battle to survive.

Of course it is a strange and unusual battlefield, when you realize I am an old poet working as a nanny, watching over seventeen children under the age of nine as their parents are fighting the good fight, away at jobs.

It isn’t humiliating for a man of my years to be a nanny.  That sort of insult is a wild swing that utterly misses my jaw. Actually I’m lucky, for the fact of the matter is that little children are far wiser, and make better company, than the politically correct.

What hits me in the jaw is that I oversee a bunch of kids who will be kids, and play in puddles even when I tell them not to, and drench their snowsuits when the temperatures are up near fifty. Then, as the temperatures plunge and winds howl and snow sweeps sideways, the little ones understand how wise I was, when I said to stay dry. But they do not applaud my wisdom, and instead they cry out they are freaking cold.

Their parents will be arriving in ten minutes, with cars heated to eighty, (26.7 ° Celsius),  but the kids want to go indoors, though the Childcare’s heat was turned off an hour ago and all the rooms cleaned and disinfected, for tomorrow. It will not warm them much to let them indoors, and will mess up the indoors, but how am I to warm them outside, in the cruel wind?

I simply told them they were all leprechauns, (it being Saint Patrick’s Day), and that I was a creature called a Kazoolabum, which has six legs and thirteen tentacles, and eats leprechauns. They screamed and I chased them, and very soon they forgot they were cold.  Parents arrived, I waved goodbye, and then I leaned against a fence and moaned, “Lord Oh Lord, I’m not sure I can take much more of this shit.”

However there is such a beauty in the battle that, even though a winter might hit me where I do not see the May, I won’t mind dying with my boots on.

That is the attitude you need to have, if you honestly want to love your enemies, or survive a New England winter.

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