Many regions of the estate exceeded mortal ownership. One of such destinations on the wooded, and lawn graced property, held special endearment to me, even though it was but one of many highly selectable options from a catalog of desirable possibilities. It was on the ivy flanked, upward curve which brought one up from a great ravine into the posterior lawn leading to the dorsal terrace of the primary house upon the estate. This was the clearing where small circles of light complimented a quadrangle of Silver Dollar Eucalyptus trees which always found even the most undetectable breezes to sway about upon. Further enhancement was provided by the ring of sentinel like Sequoia sempervirens which largely surrounded the clearing. This clearing was a magnet for miraculous manifestations of light and fog.
I was far from the only life form which enjoyed the clearing. It was also where I held regular meetings and meditations with one of the areas greatest appreciators of its splendor, the Carduelis tristis, also known as, the American Goldfinch. The bird would arrive in comfortable numbers while vocalizing in the most precise polyphony. There was a communion of calm which I could sense forming between all of us when we would congregate there. Soon, from their league’s numbers, I began to recognize one as some form of their leader. The one who became specifically recognizable to me found a personalized name from my archives of thought. I prefixed the term “King,” to the Latin name of the breed and their apparent director became instantly recognizable to me as “King Carduelis Tristis.”
As the American Goldfinches would arrive I would smile, and the air would seem lighter to me. Then as their ranks were clearly joined by King Carduelis I found myself surprised to notice that I would suddenly sit or stand upright, a bit more straighter that commonly, while offering a respectful nod of recognition to the King, which over time, seemed as if returned back to me by his majesty.
Sometimes my attempts to explore the estate, its secondary houses, sheds, and surprising quantity of underground root cellars and bizarre book rooms, would bring pleasant, post-exercise exhaustion upon me. Which would find me desiring seated rest upon a flat topped, knee-high boulder within interiour ring of the Silver Dollar clearing. Contemplating such fatigue, from such physically active explorations, I would begin to wonder how on earth Lord Ian—an ethnomusicologist—could have possibly accumulated a rather hidden, modestly reduced, American equivalent to Louis XIV’s, Palace of Versailles, complete with the French landmark’s charm, yet devoid of its decadent absurdities. Ethnomusicology is not commonly associated with the accumulation of tremendous wealth. Then, it dawned upon me, what if Lord Ian had once inherited the property in much the same manner by which he saw to it being inherited to me, his apprentice, after him? My mind began an accounting process of funds I had randomly acquired here and there throughout the estate. These pleasant surprises of financial empowerment would just appear, as perhaps a fat bookmark of stacked bills adorned with the lovely, drooping mug of Benjamin Franklin, or some excessively matured, U.S. Savings bond, of the type which mature to a second power per accumulated decade of patient withholding.
Sometimes, there in the clearing of light and fog, amongst the scents of eucalyptus and pine, as I would ponder what else Lord Ian may have been involved in to have achieved such an opulent property, King Carduelis would arrive and make this strange eye contact with me. When I would be the only homo sapien present I would look left and right as if I could share the possibility that King Carduelis was actually unified in thought with me. I laughed off the absurdity of such, yet could not shake how much at moments he reacted like the dog who walked with me in my youth. Who, when his name was called, would look me in the eyes to acknowledge the receipt of some form of communication.
The clearing was a place where memories of slightly curious statements made by Lord Ian, during his mortal life time, specifically to me, would become ever more curious, to the point of sometimes causing goosebumps and eerie yet exciting feelings of possibilities for speculation.
One day I tried something that would form into an addictive and empowering process. Just for fun, I asked Lord Ian a question. Yes, the same Lord Ian who was no longer amongst us physically. There were these answers which would come back, through that voice which one might hear when reading silently, as the poet Thomas Lux might suggest. I decided that the first and fastest answer that sprang forth using this process would officially be considered as the true one, as the others may have been colored by my own mortal thought processes and experiences.
“Lord Ian, what else were you into, besides gesamtkunstwerk, and ethnomusicology?” I proposed to the ether while out in the clearing one day, while alone amongst its light, fog and earth born Silver Dollars.
“My name is partially a pseudonym.” was the first and fastest response. Quickly thereafter came the league of the American Goldfinch. Adjoined to them was the one most recognizable to me from amongst their ranks, King Carduelis Tristis. I chuckled at the irony of his arrival’s timing. Just for fun I spoke audibly: “Very funny.”
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