John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.17.09
Cobden, Ontario


56 Years Ago Today

Fifty-six years ago today I enlisted in the US Army. I was 17 and had no idea what I was doing.

The Korean War was in "truce mode." The shooting had paused, but I wanted "in," I wanted to be a combat photographer.

I said goodbye to my high school sweetheart in Newport, Vermont, unaware that this was the end of "us" and the end of sweet childhood.

Fast forward -- time blurs for the next half century, and more.

Photography school on the GI Bill. Work in NYC and Boston. Meet Jane, go home to Vermont, marry, have four sons in rapid-fire sequence.

Photography studio, newspapering, teaching. Immigrate to Canada, farming, teaching. Boys grow up, go to university, become chiropractors, move away, marry, start families, produce ten grandchildren.

Somewhere in there I obtain BA and MSc degrees, make photographs, write and publish books, start a magazine on the Internet (still doing it), create websites for money.

The grandchildren grow rapidly, we don't see much of them. We sell the farm in Tomifobia, Quebec, after 35 years and move to Cobden, Ontario -- a place to live but not to love. Uprooted, yes, but we see much more of our family.

And that's a good thing, now that we're in our 70s. For at the end of the story, what do you really have but your family?

And so I have settled into a routine to fill my days here on Muskrat Lake...

Rise between 4:30 and 5 a.m.

Update the Log Cabin Chronicles, fill my head with all the bad news in the world, caffeinate myself.

6:30 a.m. simple breakfast of fruit juice, oatmeal, nuts and dried fruit, olive oil, salt and pepper. Supplements: Vitamins C & E, ginko biloba, glucosamine, cod liver oil.

7 a.m. -- meditation

7:30 -- 8:30 a.m. play shakuhachi and Native American flutes, some of which I made.

The rest of the day: make flutes, do household maintenance, shop for food, post office trips, garden, eat. Drinks at four, in the pergola in good weather.

A video in the evening, some flute playing, bed no later than 10 p.m. usually.

The next day the same. And the next, and the next.

    I moved to the country, long ago, in order to live with time. I believed it was something happening around me. Now I know that it's passing in me. (Verlyn Klinkenborg in the NY Times)
Sometimes, as I sit drinking coffee in the living room looking out at Muskrat Lake, I wonder how it all came to pass.

This is it, Johnny, this is life now. And like 56 years ago, I still have no idea what I am doing, and what I'm getting into.