There is no fool like an old, fantastist fool who persists in believing in the folly of there somewhere being a piece of land that will settle him in one spot where never again must he turn his head to look for life or sanctuary.
The nearest neighbor to this shell is miles north, and out of sight heading south, and open land sits all around it. The meadow is filled with good grasses. Walk 60 yards and you could sit on a hill with a view that extends deep into the northeast, a star-gazing hill, a hawk-watching hill.
The 1865 wreck may not be demolished but must be rehabbed. The foundation walls are sound, its wood riddled with termites, the roof half-stripped, all the windows gone, the interior bereft of plumbing, heat, electricity, its floors and box staircase of unknown quality because all the entrances have been blocked. My carpenter friend said the moist, cramped, dirtfloor basement would have to be excavated by hand, bucketful by bucketful. None of this counts the cost of the necessary addition, septic system and well and the negotiations with the township Historical Commission about what might be permitted, but I already know how snowfall would look through its windows.
At a corner of the property I turn and look back and see the light on its walls and hear … nothing … except wind, and I imagine.
Or if this cost is prohibitive, well, there is cheap land in Livingston and a cute home in Hinsdale or this wonder in Oglala. In my mind’s eye, I turn and look around and see the light and space, and I imagine. There is no fool like an old fantastist fool who cannot rest.
Back home in late afternoon the water in the clay dishes beside the big maple shines back the sky, and birds come by the dozens to the feeders, rushing in like bright atoms flung scattershot from the field and over the neighbor’s fence as if some giant were launching them willy-nilly into the air toward this one, small place. In the shade I watch the show … and I imagine.