"Vulnerable and Bound"
[Sunday, April 20, 2014]
Oscar met Yael at the edge
of Pine Hill Park, where a trail
led toward the picnic tables.
It was a pretty spring day,
so Oscar had brought lunch
and Yael brought a few beers.
This close to the parking lot,
the trail was graveled with
a stone border, flanked by
beds of native flowers.
"Hey," Oscar said.
Yael grunted, then said,
"How's the project going?"
Oscar winced. "Not so well
since Fred ... found other things
that he needed to work on."
Really, Fred had egged him on
and gotten him all involved in this,
then dumped him when the Syrians
had gotten invited to Rutledge anyway.
"See, things like this are why I
don't like people," Yael said
as they walked. "Fred is a dick."
"I'm not going to quit just because
Fred bailed," Oscar said with a sigh.
"Yeah, but that leaves you holding
the bag," Yael pointed out. "That sucks."
"It does, but I genuinely love this town and
I want it to thrive," Oscar said. "Everything we
discussed before remains true -- we need
to find solutions to these problems."
"Well, you care about this more
than Fred does," said Yael. "That
puts you in a bit of a pickle."
"You could still help with it,"
Oscar coaxed. "Many hands
make light work, so they say."
"Oh, no, you don't," Yael said,
waving his hands. "I am not
a people person, and frankly,
neither are you, my man."
"I'm not that bad," Oscar said.
"I'm a park ranger, so while I'm
better with nature than with people,
I do fine leading nature hikes or telling
kids to quit shredding the flowers."
They came out of the trees
into a small clearing with
several wooden picnic tables
scattered around the lawn.
Yael brushed a few twigs off
the nearest one and sat down.
Oscar unpacked apples and
maple bacon sandwiches
with lettuce and tomato.
Yael tossed him a beer
and a bottle opener.
The food was good,
and the cold beer better.
"So what really has your shorts
in a bunch?" Yael asked him.
"I feel hopelessly out of my depth,"
Oscar said. "I have no training in
business, and my leadership skills
focus on nature programs and
enforcement of park rules."
"Yeah, but you're good at
those things," Yael said.
"Can't you build on them?"
"Mayor Castle thinks so, but ...
I dunno." Oscar shook his head.
"He keeps telling me that I should
talk to Quadscore, but she's kind of
intimidating, and so are politicians.
They're all slick and important, and
let's be honest here, I'm just not."
"Yikes," Yael commiserated. "You
keep having good ideas, though.
It's not just the business hatchery --"
"Incubator," Oscar corrected. "It's
called a business incubator."
"Yeah, that," said Yael. "You've
thrown out all kinds of ideas, and
some of them sound kooky, but
sooner or later one's gonna stick."
"I sure hope so," Oscar said. "I
can't quit just because the gig isn't
easy or what I originally intended."
"You need more backup, my man,"
said Yael. "You can't clean up
a whole park all by yourself."
"I know, I know," Oscar said,
munching morosely on an apple.
"It's just that most people bailed
when Fred did. I don't think they
were serious about the project."
"Oh, they were serious all right --
serious assholes," Yael said. "Look,
I didn't want the Syrians coming here
because I thought that they would get
lost in the woods and freeze to death
or some shit, but they haven't."
"Yours neither?" Oscar said,
startled. "I know none of them
have gotten lost in my areas,
but yours are a lot wilder."
"Nope, not a one," Yael said.
"They're like crazy paranoid.
Most of them haven't left town,
but every one I've seen in the woods
has had a compass in his hands."
"Damn, that's impressive,"
Oscar said. "I wish I could get
more than the Activity Scouts
to learn that much orienteering."
"You and me both," said Yael.
"I'm just saying, maybe we
underestimated them a bit."
"Yeah, maybe," Oscar said.
"That doesn't help me with
my business project, though."
"So tell Castle to get off his ass
and help you," said Yael. "He's
the mayor, he's responsible for
the town, he should pitch in."
"His big idea was for me to go
to college," Oscar said glumly.
"I don't think that he realizes
how much I'm floundering."
"He's a people person and
a natural leader," Yael said.
"He probably doesn't get why
you're freaking the fuck out over it,
because this shit is easy for him."
"Yeah, yeah, that's it exactly,"
Oscar said, nodding. "He doesn't
understand how hard it is, or
how overwhelming. I tried
looking at college websites,
and my stomach tied in knots."
"Hey, man, you don't actually
have to do this if it's stressing you
that much," Yael said, looking worried.
"I have to do something," Oscar said.
"I can't just walk away like everyone else.
Isn't that what got us into this mess?
Too many people went, 'Oh, Vermont
is hard, fuck it,' and moved out."
Yael winced. He'd lost a girlfriend
that way, not even a year ago.
They'd been pretty serious,
but she wanted "opportunities"
and he just wanted his woods.
"Sorry, man," Oscar muttered.
"I shouldn't have said anything.
Me and my big mouth -- see,
this is why I'm not a politician."
A crow cawed at him, and
Oscar tossed it his apple core.
The bird snatched the bit of fruit
and flew into a nearby tree.
"It's fine," Yael said, though
it really wasn't. "Shit happens."
"Yeah," Oscar said. "This
would be so much easier if
Fred hadn't bailed on us."
"Fear of not being liked,
of abandonment, of being
selfish -- it's the main thing that
keeps us vulnerable and bound in
the chains of emotional dependence,"
Yael said. "That's what you're facing."
That's how Oscar felt in this situation,
all right: vulnerable and bound.
"So what do I do about it?" he said.
"The two most difficult challenges are
to truly believe that it is okay for you to be
yourself, and to learn to live with your fears,"
Yael said. "You can get through this."
"I don't know how," Oscar admitted.
"I feel like I'm lost in the woods."
"Then look for a compass,"
Yael said. "You're not
some city slicker, you
know how get unlost."
This was true, Oscar
had to agree. He was
good at wilderness skills.
He just had to figure out how
to apply them to business.
"Meanwhile, have a cookie,"
Yael said, unwrapping a stack of
trail mix cookies from a handkerchief.
"You can't think on an empty stomach,
and a sandwich only goes so far."
Oscar chuckled. "Thanks, man,"
he said as he took a cookie.
Yael might not be very good
with crowds, but he made
a damn fine trail guide.
Oscar just had to decide
where he was going.
* * *
"Fear-of not being loved, of abandonment, of being thought to be selfish-is the main thing that keeps us vulnerable and bound in the chains of emotional dependence. Therefore, our two most difficult challenges are to truly believe it is okay for us to be ourselves and to learn to live with, move through, and heal our fears."
-- Sue Thoele
"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no
peace, and ultimately no life, without community."
-- M. Scott Peck
The road to Oscar's home goes through patches of forest that include wild apple trees.
The woodshop has trees and shrubs growing along the sides. Inside, the woodshop has many tools and supplies. Upstairs it has a guest bedroom with an old queen-size bed, end tables, dressers, and chairs.
Stairs wrap around the front of the cabin. On the side you can see the balcony and decks.
Inside, the laundry room is on the basement level with the garage, which has two doors in front and storage space in back.
The living room features a fireplace, wraparound couch, coffee table, and rocking chair. The kitchen-dining room has a stove, single sink, microwave oven, and refrigerator. A small table with four chairs fills the middle of the room. The tiny powder room has an antique sink and a much newer toilet. The back porch has a big plant window with a ladder rack overhead along with a table and chairs.
Upstairs, the master bedroom includes a king-size bed, dresser, closet, and easy chair. A door beside the angled window leads to the balcony outside.
The big common bathroom on the second floor fills one side of the house between the two bedrooms. It includes an old bathtub with shower between two sinks plus a separate glass-cased walk-in shower with several heads. On the far side of the shower wall is the landing with the stairs.
The guest bedroom has a full-size bed.
Just beyond the deck, the yard has a firepit with seating and a woodshed. The mowed lawn includes a small fenced garden. The apple orchard borders an open field used for growing hay that Oscar sells to nearby farmers. Wildflowers flank the path that leads to a creek feeding into the pond.
Oscar stocks a feeding station for the birds. In winter, deer scavenge spilled corn off the ground.
The yard looks over a pond with a bench and dock. Another sitting area has Adirondack chairs. This stretch of shore has another bench and a canoe shelter.
In spring, blue herons fish the marshy shallows of the pond. In autumn, ducks flock to the water. Bald eagles roost in the trees around the pond. In winter, the pond freezes over.
This entrance to Pine Hill Park has a sign.
Picnic tables dot the lawn under shade trees.
The Natural Play Area offers playhouses made from branches.
An accessible boardwalk leads through part of the forest. Hiking trails ramble through different areas. Red efts stand out against the green moss. Rocky outcroppings provide great views.
Enjoy recipes for Maple Bacon BLT and Trail Mix Cookies.