November, 2014. Somewhere in the Sonoran Desert.
I returned from North Carolina on Tucson’s last 90-degree day. The next morning I drove out to nose around in the Tanque Verde and Agua Caliente Washes, watching for the numerous Javelina, coyotes, and various other beasts that traipse through these empty rivers, these natural desert interstates for animals. It was warm early, but the forecast called for changes.
My trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains was helpful. I’m still processing my father’s passing in July, and can’t quite write much about it yet. My experience in these things is that meaningful poetry related to his life won’t emerge until early next year. For now I’m left to think of him a lot, and to plunk about on my guitar in poor attempts to dedicate a song to him. He loved the guitar; it’s likely I received my first one from him, when I was eight-years old, just so he could have a guitar player in the house. I’m grateful to him for that.
This year, like all the others, is coming to its end, and friends in the east and north have already reported first snows. Despite the fact that winter begins, on paper, over a month from now, across this great country the trees have given their collective nod of approval: winter may now commence. Winter gladly complies to such orders.
So let’s put fall to bed with a poem. Most of us know this one, and many of us may have even (had to) put it to memory at some point in our lives. Robert Frost’s lines here have been shared often enough that his “I took the one less traveled by” has become a little bit of a cliche. Still, it’s a beautiful poem with a universal message of choice, given to us by one of America’s most precious poets.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.