Sunday, August 20, 2017


Sunset Crater, July, 2018, photo by Anita C. Fonte

At evening, the distant lowing of some cows on the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious….  Walden, Henry David Thoreau, p. 87.

What is such solitude to me?  When and where do I experience it? How does solitude help or hurt me?—These are questions that a Poets & Writers prompt from March, 2017 poses and it has taken me four months to go back to this section and compose my responses to it.  Just lately, in honor of Thoreau’s 200th birthday, I pulled out my Signet Classic edition (probably from college 1967-71 since the cost of the book was fifty cents and there is no publishing date listed), and began reading it a few paragraphs at night before I go to bed.

His time is not my time.  He rallies against trains and not cell phones.  For me, the culprit of my “noise” is television where the daily dramas of Trumpland as reported on CNN or MSNBC becomes a Greek chorus as I do online tasks.  I do turn it off for “writing” and/or escape to my local Starbucks where, in the past, I could expect a decent degree of solitude.  But, as I write this, there is one heavy haired female who ignores my annoyed glances and talks on her cellphone as if this were her private office!  This kind of partial solitude is unhealthy for me and it’s becoming so common at caf├ęs that I have been thinking of what else can I do to find/create solitude?

In the distant past, which I recall in the quote above, I experienced quietude and solitude at my Grandparents’ farm on Randall Road.  They didn’t raise cows, but their neighbor did, and the black and white Angus breed would linger by the wire fence, chewing their grass and plopping their cow pies on the picked ground.  Sometimes I would hang in the branch of an oak tree, or lie on the soft hill and chew on a blade of wild wheat.  I was content—a feeling I rarely have in my sixth decade.  I do not often experience contentment to that depth.  

Of course, my memory may be faulty.  Maybe, even then, I was anxious about school (probably) or fearful about what mood my dad would be in when he picked me up from my grandparents.  My dad might have been bipolar, and definitely had Italian son-of-an alcoholic behaviors plus WWII PTSD, so life was daily drama with him at home.  My maternal grandparents who had the farm, were Cherokee, Scots-Irish, German and stoical Methodists.  My mom was much like them.  And there was a part of her girlish charm that couldn’t cope with my dad’s complexities.  So that farm was my refuge and the symbol of my childhood contentment and happiness.

Sometimes, living in the desert, looking at the night sky, I experience moments of bliss, thinking about how the sky is bigger than I can see: a great “out there” that holds mystery and magic.  And the mountains are places where I can sometimes escape to feel similar moments.  But I am usually with someone, not alone, so solitude isn’t part of that kind of escape.  When I go to the Botanical Gardens, I am often alone and I feel safe.  

Aha! Now there’s a place where I can cultivate more healthful solitude. And when I read a good story I am into a transitory solitude; that kind of aloneness inspires me to write or convinces me it is futile to write at all. It depends on the mood I am in going into the story.  How can I encourage myself to be more “in the mood” of being inspired and not discouraged?  Maybe, before I read, I can pause and make the intention to be open to inspiration.

So what just happened as I write this?  Either the noise around me drowned out the annoying talker behind me (she still is gabbing), or, for just a few lines, I was lost in the flow.  So a small miracle can happen, even among the noise. 7.27.17e the intention to be iin more " Either the noise around me drowned out the annoyiomeone, not alone, so solitude isn'

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