December 31, 21014 (maybe)

Physicists are working on the problem of whether or not time is a human construct, or an actual entity. If it is an entity, human history has meaning and Taylor Swift has anorexia. If it’s a coping mechanism, we’re living in an imaginary place. It may or may not about to be 2015.

Wisdom in case there is a new year: Never take a tree or a dandelion for granted much less a bald eagle. Those of you who don’t live along the river have no idea how miraculous are birds, how they came back here after decades of DDT, how protesters brought them back by fighting for the environment.

A place to go if there is a place to go: Confluence Park. Today each pond of the wetlands teemed with birds: the glow white of the fishing pelicans, the lace white of the trumpeter swans lumped across the water, their heads tucked into their massive wings, and the pale white of the drifting snow geese—thousands of birds and songs.

A walk (or not) to take: The Genehouse trail. This afternoon the woods were filled with robins gorging on berries and five species of woodpecker hammering out counterpoint. A new black lab pup ran out onto Stroke Hill and jumped into my arms and wriggled like an eel.

This did or did not happen: I met a stranger walking along with his beagle; call him Snuff Man.

“Gene,” I said, confident that I was real.

The man gulped, almost like choking: real realness. “Gene,” he gasped, “do you-all chew?”

I told him I didn’t. Did I?

He pulled three round tins from a pocket: licorice snuff and pumpkin and cherry flavored chewing tobaccos. He allowed as how his wife didn’t care for his habit, and she wouldn’t put up with him spitting . . .

So he swallowed it. He s-w-a-l-l-o-w-e-d it. At first it made him sick. You get used to it, he told me, but it was worth the sheer pleasure of it. How long has he been swallowing chewing tobacco and snuff?

“Thirty years or so.” That is, if there is such a thing as time.

Aphorism for the new year, should there be one: “One man’s poison is another man’s nectar.”

Please pass the cancer. If we’re alive to get cancer. Huh?

And have a—if there is one—Happy (state of mind, illusion?) New (is anything old; is anything anything?) Year (unit of time which may or may not exist, my cat is licking her tummy—or not, does my La-Z Boy recliner go up and down when I’m not here, yoga pants guard a portal to the universe, wow that Bruno Mars can sing—maybe, why don’t shooting stars need conceal carry permits, God-dog-odg-dgo-gdo-Godot?).





About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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