Thursday, February 24, 2005

le morte d'artur

I'm not sure exactly how much this story has to do with Sir Malory's classic tale. Basically it has to do with the death of someone named Arthur. I think it also has to do with the fact that I obviously live in Avalon.

When I first moved here, Arthur was someone I'd gotten a heads up about. He was a big man of indeterminate age. He was one of those people who reach a certain age and then seem to hang there like a photograph protected by a glass. You know its an old picture; you just aren't sure how old. I was surprised when I found out he was in his 70's. I was thinking more in the late 50's.

I'd been told that Arthur talked quite a bit and they weren't sure how he got anything done since he chatted so much. I'd also been told that Arthur claimed to hear voices. I've learned the hard way that hearing voices is never a good thing. I tend to steer clear of individuals who hear voices, claim special otherworldly knowledge or see "things". Particularly if they feel free to share these experiences with me, a total stranger.

He drove a white paneled van with a rack on top. It was the sort of vehicle that painters use. Like many of the older and unemployed men in the community, he could most often be found at the Big Creek Deli. He lived in a small camper on top of his mountain near Gaynell's house. He was, like me, a "move-in". We would never completely belong here by virtue of being born someplace else.

Gaynell didn't care for him. But then, Gaynell didn't get along with a number of folks on The Fifteenth. I think it was from Gaynell and Clinton that I first heard the giant bird story. Arthur swore up and down to anyone who would listen that he had seen a giant bird the size of a passenger plane fly over his property. Many people thought he told such tales to get people to leave him alone.

There were other stories. He would often recount a bizarre tale regarding his ex-wife's repeated attempts to poison him. His property had a family graveyard on it. Arthur evidently wouldn't let the relatives up there to take care of the graves. That didn't sit well with this community that regularly holds reunions for the express purpose of cleaning and decorating graveyards.

Still, he did seem to be a respected member of the community. He was a retired teacher, a profession that is held in high regard here. All in all, he was a well-liked paranoid schizophrenic. So Arthur lived on his mountain in a tiny camper with his dogs, chickens and guineas. He opted to build his barn before building his house. I thought it an odd choice, but then, maybe it made sense to Arthur.

It was there, this winter that death found him. Carbon monoxide from his portable heater flooded the camper. Arthur was found dead by a friend the next day. The first thought was that it was suicide. Arthur was fighting cancer and his health was not the best. I can’t imagine living in that tiny camper while being on chemo, but that was what he was doing. But no, it was just a senseless accident.

I think many of us that come here, like the Arthur of legend, come to these mountains in search of some form of healing. In my case, it was quite literally a physical healing. For most, the wounds are spiritual or emotional. There is a misplaced quote about philosophers, poets and madmen being attracted to high, wild places. I think, this, our Avalon, is like that. Perhaps that is why there are so many Arthurs and Rosies running around up here.

I hope Arthur had his wounds healed. I think he did. I think he was happy here. At least, I hope he was. They sprinkled his ashes over his property to mix with the ever-present mist.


Post a Comment