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Musings Upon the Harvest Moon- John C. Krieg

Dec 17, 2021 | Non Fiction | 0 comments

The harvest moon is not the largest, or a so-called “super moon”, but to marijuana farmers it is the most noticeable and most significant of all the 12 or 13 moons experienced in the yearly lunar rotation. The harvest moon reminds me that perhaps between 17 and 23 percent of my life is left if I am fortunate indeed. I don’t sleep very well on those evenings when the harvest moon shines bright in the October night sky because I know that there is less time lying ahead than the time that is now behind me.

I toss and turn at night haunted by the ghosts of my past and the ugliness of the things I have seen. I’ve seen single mothers unable to break the bonds of the invisible umbilical cord taken advantage of by their parasitic sons who never really become men, but rather, dark vacuums of need. I’ve seen caring families unable to give up on hopeless drug addicts ripped apart and ultimately destroyed by them. I’ve seen the mistreated and neglected children of said drug addicts grow up to repeat that dysfunctional cycle. The sins of the fathers and mothers are most certainly visited upon the sons and daughters; and visited upon the supposed innocents who were unwittingly codependent or otherwise complicit in their destructive actions. A lowering tide strands all boats. I’ve seen myself naïve and bewildered that these things could happen before my disbelieving eyes, unable to grasp that such bad things could happen in my sphere which is a mystery indeed because bad things were happening all the time.

I am mystified by my inability to perform the basic psychological triage necessary to see who is worthy of my friendship, and more importantly, my trust and who is not. In my sleepless nights I repeatedly ask myself: why do I confide in those that my better instincts reveal that I should dislike? Why do I unveil my deepest secrets to those who will ultimately betray me?  Why do I reach out my hands to help to those who denigrate even the noblest and most generous of my efforts? Why do I cast my pearls at swine? The answer, as it most frequently does, lies in the first five years of my life, none of which I can actually remember. I am entirely perplexed that a man entering his seventh decade of life cannot completely rise above the events that occurred before passing from his first decade of life; but I have no doubt that these events have shaped, corrupted, damaged, and occasionally defeated me. And so I determine to make the first five years of the lives of the children under my care as magical and comforting as I possibly can, and it frustrates me when I fail at those efforts. I would like to be the loving and guiding hand that sees them into adulthood, and I live in mortal fear that I will die before accomplishing that goal.

Those people that I have tried and failed to help have no real skin in the game. They are as quirky and as flawed as the most despicable of characters in a Flannery O’Connor story.  They are conniving and manipulative and the only thing that they truly want is to take as much as they can convince their marks to give them while doing as little as humanly possible to acquire such things. They feign friendship and they seem to have a sixth sense concerning all the others in my life that they perceive to be taking advantage of me. Sowing discord is their stock in trade, and they are well aware that the fastest way to gain control over a person is to separate them from their friends. Their primary goal is to convince you to take them in, and they know from past experiences that if you say they can come, then you can’t tell them to leave.  Just try calling the police to assist you in trying to extricate these leeches from your life, and they will either laugh in your face and/or admonish you for being such a rube as to ever get involved with them in the first place. They will tell you not to expect them to solve your problems—that’s quite simply not their job.

So I determine to ban the unworthy from my life no matter how lonely that may cause me to become. If I can’t separate the wheat from the chaff, I won’t winnow the wheat at all. I will determine to concentrate on those things I like and to let the grandchildren share in those things with me because I never want them to see me sloppy and mean, but rather, as kind and generous to the deserving, and at ages 11 and 5, they are most certainly deserving.

I like popup Christmas cards and the joy and humility of the multicolored twinkling lights.  All those strictly white light setups are for the rich, for unimaginative interior decorators, for adults who can’t imagine what it is like to be a wide-eyed child anymore. I like being a sentimental old fool because those emotions are the spice of my life. I like seeing the grandchildren thrive. I like being able to set an example while I still have the strength to do so.  Most of all, I like them to see me at work and to know what it is to be tired from the best of efforts. I like when I’m the good kind of tired; the kind of tired that comes with a sense of accomplishment such as turning and enriching the soil in spring. There’s a dull ache to the muscles that is oddly warm and comforting. I like it when they see me that way. And I most definitely like them to see me still grasping onto my dignity.

There’s something to be said for dignity. Even as I see the end approaching, I’m trying to live with what dignity I can. Even as I see the inescapable humiliation of being incapable of taking care of myself, I’m trying to maintain a positive and decent self-image. I’m determined to wring as much heartfelt joy and laughter out of the tapestry of my life while I still can.

Admittedly, we are hanging on by our fingernails, and I have asked myself why don’t we sell out and retreat to someplace less expensive? Why do we struggle with the monthly bills and live in mortal fear of any unforeseen expenses that would make our lives more difficult than they already are? In response to these questions, I look to the fate of an old friend after he moved back into the house where he was born. He thought he would die quickly, but he didn’t die; he slowly rotted.

After the marijuana harvests that are portended by these harvest moons, I go to bed high every night and I listen to the music that I like. Who am I hurting, and what have I done to deserve the condemnation and judgment of others? I endeavor to enjoy life while I’m still alive. I sincerely believe that everyone has the right to enjoy life so long as they are not hurting anyone else in pursuit of that enjoyment. To live and let live, and to die with no regrets is the greatest of all gifts I can give to my fellow man, and the greatest of all blessings that could ever be bestowed upon me.

I go to the funerals of friends when I’m compelled to, but I don’t go to graveyards much, and I will forgive all those who won’t come to visit me when I am in the grave. Life is for the living, and death is not the celebration of a life, but rather the unmistakable end of it. The harvest moon is an omen that the end is coming, but thankfully, it is not here yet. I try not to dwell upon my impending death too much as I hope and pray that I may yet get a decade worth of harvest moons to continue to muse upon.

John C. Krieg is a retired landscape architect and land planner who formerly practiced in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He is also retired as an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist and currently holds seven active categories of California state contracting licenses, including the highest category of Class A General Engineering. He has written a college textbook entitled Desert Landscape Architecture (1999, CRC Press).  In conjunction with filmmaker/photographer Charles Sappington, Mr. Krieg has completed a two-part documentary film entitled Landscape Architecture: The Next Generation(2010).


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