There are those in the literary world to whom nostalgia and sentimentality are an anathema. There may be a point there; why look backward when forward is the thing? Why think about a time before the time we are in?
This is not my school. Mine is old. I like manual transmissions. AM radio as long as it’s tuned to mariachi or Ray Price-Marty Robbins country, no rantings of conspiracy and anger for me. Tent camping. Straight black coffee. Cast iron cookware.
And I love this old man. He turned 90 a few weeks ago. Greg and I rented a Forest Service cabin with a long view of Montana where neighbors are mountain bluebirds and barn swallows up from mariachi country. We sat on the porch of that cabin and thought about Lewis and Clark and we talked about Winchester rifles made before 1964, fly rods made by hand, canvas tents, bonafide American double guns. We watched skeins of elk and antelope work across sagebrush benches greening in a May sun. Saw a black bear galloping across cattle country and a snowshoe hare going white to gray.
“Greg, I’ve turned into a stumbling, drooling old man,” he said.
“You’re not drooling.”
He stopped himself at one gin and tonic and I said, “I understand.”
“I don’t,” he said. And then he said, “Stop me if I’ve told you this before.”
He had, but we didn’t. He has stories, nostalgia, sentiment for days gone by. So do we.
Poor is the one who does not listen to this, stealing gems from one’s own cache. Bring it on.