Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Farm

The Farm
Blix seeks clarity concerning a dream

Sitting here on the porch of my Uncle Phil’s old trailer out at the Farm (the family holdings for more years than I can remember) I always feel a certain warmth of spirit, a kind of home-sense, a feeling of this is where I am meant to be...and yet, Phil has always lived here alone, mostly, with his old dog Tuesday.  

I can hear Phil inside the trailer kitchen fumbling around with his antique tea kettle, humming an indiscernible tune punctuated by a brief interlude of whistling, followed by low key chuckling.  Old Phil Stine is a strange dude.  In town he is sardonic, humorous and as vital as a 25 year old.  But out here when I drop by the Farm, I often find what appears to be a thousand year old zen sage sitting in the lotus position greeting the morning sun.  Or, just as often, he will be at the porch table, typing rapidly into his small laptop.  On such occasions when I pull up in the old jeep he will hold up one finger to signal for silence and Ruby Tuesday will trot over to the jeep, smiling and growling at the same time.  I have never tested her seriousness at such times.  Ruby Tuesday is a very strange dog.  Now Phil comes through the screen door, carrying an old silver tray with an equally old tea service.  Old Phil Stine takes his tea quite seriously.

“So, nephew what brings you home this afternoon?”  He places my cup and saucer on the table.  There’s a dragon on my cup, some kind of chinese art.  His bears a smiling buddha image.  Tea time in the country.

“Why do you ask?  Do I need a reason to visit my old uncle for tea on such a fine day?”

“Ho ho, of course not.  I only ask as a courtesy.  I put a little something extra in your tea to help with those circles under your eyes.  Been sleeping on the boat again?”

“Why, yes, yes I was. I was sleeping on the boat and having a very strange dream.  In fact you were in the dream.”

“Me? Really?  I am honored.  What was the dream about, if you don’t mind me asking.”

“It’s all very vague.  Some kind of big sailboat, a trimaran, maybe;  I remember getting a sense that it was some kind of replica, a museum copy of some old native outrigger.  But then at the same time, I have these images of some kind of alien spacecraft.  It’s all really odd.”

“Not really, considering the fact you were probably asleep at sea, bobbing about on the Bitch out there in the full moon.  And you say that I was in this dream?”  Old Ruby Dog comes over and lays her golden head on my lap.  As I scratch her ears she looks up into my eyes, giving me a deep, mournful look of love.  The warm feeling returns and I take another sip of tea.  

“Yeah, you were in the dream.  I can’t see you in the dream, but you were there.  And some other guy.  He knew me and I was really glad to see him, for some reason, but I couldn’t see his face.  He pointed at the Moon and when I looked up, it was the biggest full moon I have ever seen...then I woke up on the beach.  By the way, did you have something to do with getting me out of trouble when Short Round showed up?  Butch more or less drove up and told him to go away.”

“Little sargeant Short Round.  No, Butch is looking out for you on his own.  You were a hero of his in high school, you know.  Before...well, always remember that Captain Butch is your friend.”

“Yeah, of course.  But anyway, this dream was so vivid and all it almost seemed real.  Like it really happened.  Know what I mean?”

Old Phil put on his inscrutable face.  He poured a little splash of tea into his saucer and put it on the porch floor.  Ruby lifted her head from my lap and went over to the saucer.  She put the tip of her tongue into the tea, very lady-like.  Then she looked at us each in turn, first Phil, then me.  She sighed and went over to the porch steps.  She turned and looked at us both once again, then carefully picked her way down the three steps to the ground.  She trotted off, disappearing down the trail that leads to the swamp, the giant wetlands of our family and our beloved Florida.  

There was another quiet chuckle.  I turned to look at Phil but he wasn’t there.  A vast chorus of cicadas began their evening song and I realized it was much later than I had thought.

“Uncle Phil?” I got up and went to the screen door.  Peering in, I saw him at his kitchen table, typing furiously.  He briefly held up one finger and far off, deep in the swamp, I heard a dog bark twice, two sharp rifle-like reports that signaled for silence.

I turned and headed down the steps.  Walking to the jeep, the cicadas were incredibly loud and for a moment, there was another sound.  Like a voice inside my head, deep, resonant, but outside, audible,  maybe like Moses (or Jonah) heard.  I couldn’t make out what the voice was saying.

I got into the jeep and started her up.  It would be dark by the time I got back to the beach.