Mid-morning. I look out my kitchen window in the direction of the noise. A quarter mile away, the well drillers are working in the rain, boring holes below the new house site, digging not for water but for heat. A geothermal heat-pump will supplement the woodstove and passive solar design, and for that, four deep holes need to be drilled.
I can’t see anything from here, though. The wild apple out back, stripped of leaves, bends under its load of lumpy fruit. I rub an absent-minded hand over my scalp, still adjusting to the strangeness of short hair.
It’s not that I liked having long hair; I didn’t. I thought it looked dumb. But I’ve always feared conformity: the chanting, the pledging of allegiances, the mob with its own cruel agenda. I guess I’m a product of the American individualist myth that says a social collective can never be other than a Borg, threatening to erase all differences and obliterate even the impulse toward independence. Much preferable, in my mind, to court outlandishness and be obvious and erratic as a planet among the anonymous stars.
But now I’m a Roundhead, fit for a new New Model Army, to all appearances as subservient as the moon in its orbit and in its kenosis — which begins again tomorrow, I think. The last I saw it two nights ago, through thickening clouds, the almost-full moon was a blurry nest of light, alone in the sky.
I hear random crashes as the drill bores through the nearly vertical shelves of rock, laid down during a barren time following a great extinction event of unknown origin. Did a piece of the sky fall, or did the planet become too active and ejaculate too much volcanic ash all at once? The Juniata formation is a brick-red sandstone too soft to build with, and though virtually free of fossils, it did once yield a fist-sized concretion that tumbled out of the road bank and into the track — an oblate spheroid with concentric ridges as if from the fingers of some ancient potter.
Late morning, I grab camera and umbrella and walk over to the new house site. The rig stands about as tall as the trees behind it, and together with its truck reminds me almost of a mosquito. I don’t know the names for the things moving up and down and back and forth as its complicated mouthparts probe the earth. As I walk up past it I get a lungful of exhaust. How could we have forgotten what even our cave-dwelling ancestors knew, I wonder: this is no round rock in space, but a warm-blooded beast, impossible ever to fully domesticate. Let’s hope its tolerance of parasites will persist.