Eagle Nest, New Mexico, 2012. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 25 years--we're recyclers. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). Novel # 3, KARIN, will be out from Pantheon (US) and House of Anansi (Canada) in March 2016. More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I've been teaching at Colorado College, Wichita State, and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving and Albuquerque Airport

Gate 4-A
by Naomi Shihab Nye

“This is the world I want to live in.
The shared world."

"Peace" in Arabic - calligraphy by Dr. Shams Anwari-AlhoseeyniWandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been detained four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.”  Well – one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. “Help,” said the Flight Service Person. “Talk to her. What is her problem?  We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”  I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke to her haltingly. “Shu dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “You’re fine, you’ll get there, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.” We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her – Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for fun. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends.  Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up about two hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions.  She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies – little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts – out of her bag – and was offering them to all the women at the gate.  To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo – we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie. And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving us all apple juice and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend – by now we were holding hands – had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in.  The shared world. Not a single person in this gate – once the crying of confusion stopped – seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

1940 Ford V8 1-ton pickup. Blue Hill Maine

You may remember this Ford from a couple years back when I caught it at Bill Grant's boatyard: Bill was doing a brake job on the truck. Seems to be running, and stopping, pretty well now. We saw it at the dump. Have you ever noticed that most people at the town dump seem cheerful ? Much perkier than the crowd at, say, Walmart. Past a certain point, throwing stuff away just feels better than acquiring more.













Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1945 Jeep on the road to Acadia NP


 HBB shot these through the back window of the truck on our way to Mount Desert Island and Acadia NP to hike the Gorham Mountain trail on a warm foggy November day.



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Fast Finnish Plymouth

                                                                                           Ilkka Koskenheimo photo

When I see Finns elsewhere in Europe, they're usually riding Harleys. But I guess it's hemis at home.

Living Large in America: the Ford Transit Connect & State-by-State Obesity Rates

 These nifty 'tradesman' vans are very popular in Yerp, as we saw when we lived in Holland. Ford has been importing and selling them into the US market since 2010...

Now that they're available in the US, the design will start super-sizing until soon the point of the original (small, neat, economical efficient, hardworking) will be lost, as they become another swollen myth-vehicle...like the F-150 (sorry, I meant F-350 of course)...This truck reminds me--it has the gestalt of--one of those megachurches you see out there in the exurban heartland...Kind of defensive. Shiny, but kind of angry, too. Over several tops.  Kind of an assault rifle of a truck.

In the meantime, I'm noticing a lot of the brisk little vans in Maine. Catch one while you can--they won't stay small for long. Nothing does in America, especially the people.



Heading Home (Crossing the Penobscot)

 We headed Downeast yesterday, to spend Thanksgiving week at Brooklin. After some bitterly cold weather this month it was a warmish day, 50 degrees F and plenty of sun. Not a leaf left on the trees: that shiny silver light of November. We stopped for a late breakfast at Chase's Daily in Belfast, and half an hour later crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge into Hancock County. It's the final week for the Verso paper mill at Bucksport, which is shutting down after 84 years.