Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

That Summer, Time and My Timepiece Flew

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

That Summer, Time and My Timepiece Flew

Article excerpt

That was the last time I wore a wristwatch. Maybe I would have started using pocket watches anyway. Wearing a chronometer on my wrist made me too conscious of time. Whenever I turned my wrist toward the sun, man's busy concept of time as hurrying hours, minutes, and seconds appeared, its face staring into my face.

I tried to become less ruled by time. I left my alarm clock in the valley when I drove up the mountain, and I lived well without it. I easily woke awhile before daylight with nothing to call me but the eastern sky showing lighter gray against the dark night as the earth slowly turned my camp toward the sun.

More than the hour of the day did, hunger decided when I would eat. I quit work when I thought I had done enough for the day. And I went to bed after dark, when I felt sleepy, and when I had watched and listened to as much of the night on the quiet mountain as I needed to. I still referred to the hours of the day, as shown by my wristwatch, but I referred less as spring progressed into summer and summer toward fall. Most of that summer I worked alone. I hiked through the forest, hooked a rabbit-eared pick under the crowns of ribes bushes, gooseberries, and currants, and levered them out of the ground. This was to slow the spread of blister rust, which depended on such bushes for part of its life cycle. Blister rust was fatal to pine trees. Sometimes I had to work hard to stay on the mountain alone, to be content with my own company and my own thoughts, with the quiet work I did through days of sunshine, to be content with the shelter I took during mountain storms and with my nights alone in the mountain forest. I never lost my awe at the beauty of the mountains where I worked. I added daily to the list of wildlife I saw: deer, eagles, hawks, 30 varieties of smaller birds, weasels, and a badger, nearsighted and pretending to be very bad-tempered so other creatures, including me, wouldn't bother it. There were flowers in endless variety coloring the mountain and releasing soft, pleasant odors into mountain breezes. I worked both sides of a steeply sloped canyon. Muggins Creek ran clear and cold down the bottom of the canyon. …

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