Yesterday afternoon, I drank up the last of my homebrew. Plummer’s Hollow will be dry until I get around to making some more. So it was a bittersweet occasion. Hell, it was a bittersweet beer.
But don’t be alarmed — I wasn’t drinking alone. I never do.
For one thing, there were the flies. Not the kind that bite, but the kind that just want to land on you and walk around a bit, pausing every few steps to rub your grime off their forefeet.
A good, strong stout should help you appreciate, you know, the little things: The songs of the birds. The weave of your jeans. The way you don’t feel anything one way or the other when you kill a fly, and you begin to wonder if that makes you a potential sociopath.
I got many glimpses of the chipmunk that lives in my herb garden as it hurried back and forth to its burrow, climbing tall weed stalks to get at their seeds and riding them down to the ground. I thought about my grandmother, who used to hand-feed chipmunks when she and Grandpa lived here for several summers back in the 1970s. In all likelihood, she fed this very chipmunk’s great x 30 grandmother. I can’t help feeling that creates a special bond between us. Not special enough to make we want to try hand-feeding it, but pretty special.
Through the slats on the porch railing, I had a good view of a crowd of garlic, though I wasn’t close enough to eavesdrop. People tell me I should decapitate them so their bulbs will grow bigger, but I can rarely bring myself to do so. They have such character! I love watching them uncurl, finally pointing their bills straight up like bitterns. And when their heads split open and the children within grow beaks of their own, I scatter them far and wide. Slowly but surely, I’m turning the lawn into a garlic patch.
From time to time, my eyes strayed back to the book on my lap: Jim Harrison’s The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems. I was reading the section of poems called After Ikkyu and liking it pretty well. Harrison is a good drinking companion.
But mostly, I looked at the beer. As I mentioned, it’s homebrew, so I wouldn’t have to carbonate and bottle it. Three years ago, in fact, I left a couple batches in the carboy and just siphoned off a pitcher whenever I got thirsty. I don’t particularly need the mouth-feel of carbonation; I do it for the foam. What do wine drinkers look at? I’ve never understood that. Beer is beautiful.
UPDATE: With the last photo, I meant to reference Dsida Jeno’s “Poem of Darkness,” which I recently became acquainted with thanks to frizzyLogic. True, Jeno himself mentions coffee. But what better than stout for a “dark and bitter drink” into which, “one dank brown evening,” to “melt and sink”?