A note to the reader from Ron:
Occasionally I like to dig into my archives, a disorderly closet crammed with at least 1,000 columns penned over nearly 30 years. Sometimes I agree with the words and thoughts of my younger days; sometimes I don't. Sometimes the thoughts seem brand new; sometimes they feel as if they were written by a vaguely familiar stranger.
This one . . . from 1994 . . . still holds the ring of personal truth.
Give me a plot of land on a tree covered hill, a place where wood smoke clings to the branches and the closest neighbor can barely hear the sound of my 30-30 pistol. Give me a little house with a little porch, someplace where I can sit under the night stars, listening to the wind’s journey and enjoying a smoke while the pups beg for scratches behind the ear. Give me a little river with a few fish, or failing that, a pond crowded with skeletal brush. Give me a herd of amusing pups, a fishing rod, a good book and a lamp, a few guitars and a couple of dulcimers Give me a half decent road, enormous isolation, a desk upon which to write and the crash of an animal through the underbrush.
You want to know my idea of paradise? Welcome to Hermit’s Heaven.
The word hermit has a bad connotation. It brings to mind images of stringy haired old men with curling yellow fingernails, creatures devoid of all but three or four teeth who despise their own species and drool into an evening bowl of cold pork and beans. It is a vision of an anti-social miscreant with little use for himself or others, a hobbling cretin in tattered rags who mutters to himself and kicks cats. A hermit is often thought of as a person who, plain and simple, hates life.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Loony toon folks who hear voices in their beanie-weenies and rarely bathe do not have the hermit bent. They may have a short in their brain, but let’s not confuse mental disease and improper hygiene with heartfelt desire and an exploratory mind set. Hermits, you see, are simply following their own nature. Crazy people are just crazy.
I’ve had the opportunity to know several hermits, and without exception all shared an affinity for living beyond compare. They are well traveled and gregarious with a thirst for knowledge. They shower, they speak, and most of all, they learn. They are for the most part kind hearted, with a group of scattered close friends whom they consider family. They like people, but do not feel the compulsion to be constantly surrounded, making idle chit-chat for the sake of hearing their own head rattle. They may have a love of silence and solitude, but they also love life. The difference, is that their method of expression is different from the norm.
Are they odd? Usually, at least if judged by the status quo. Do they care? Not really.
I have been a hermit for as long as I can remember. From the time when I was five or six I could most likely be found either alone on the pond dam (ostensibly in search of catfish but really in another dimension) or off wandering the farm with Skipper the beagle. Solitude gives time to think, time to try and understand our existence so that we may better enjoy it. Hermits, contrary to popular belief, have not necessarily suffered some great and tragic loss which spurs them to withdraw from society and the things of man. In many cases they are merely amazed by (Simon and Garfunkel please forgive me) the sounds of silence. It is the quiet, the absence of TV commercials, billboards, roaring engines and those who hustle and bustle which makes them feel truly at peace. It is the calm that arrives with such peace that lets them venture into the world and be further amazed.