Sunday, October 11, 2015


The vale behind the cabin: poppies, tulips, no huckleberries
This rainy, overcast morning finds me more withdrawn and taciturn than normal. I'm tired of "the fresh woods and pastures new" just now, though I trust I will not always be so. It surprises me to discover within myself an emptiness for other people, when so often in Concord the abundance of them drove me into the woods.

It is no surprise, of course, to miss the chirp of birds in conversation, as this world has none. And as I walk about the former villagers demesne, a random memory has burst into my mind: there are no huckleberries here. Why should there be, of course, when Providence has populated this bizarre realm with plants and animals in a manner conforming to no sensible pattern or system. There are horses and cows but no dogs or cats; there are potatoes without cabbage.

I am a little surprised at myself for this nostalgia for things I once took for granted, for people I sought to escape. I confess to feeling a bit childish at this moment.

Sugar canes grown to fullest height.
Sugar canes freshly planted in sand.
But as I strained to climb a hilltop, mindless of becoming drenched in the downpour, it struck me that once, back in Concord and in similar setting, there was a bush I knew that yielded fresh huckleberries. I surprised myself with expecting it to be here, in much the same way the owner of a cat who, upon the dear cat's passing, yet continues to glimpse it from the corner of one's eye. In walking from the living room to the dining room, one fancies the soft tread and peeking muzzle of the sweet feline companion, only to have dejection and misery set in upon remembering that it has passed on and one has been fooled by an illusion of deep longing, borne of custom. So it was with the humble huckleberry, such a silly little fruit but, now, I realize meant so much. All the little rituals meant so much.
Ellen Sewall Osgood

This is the lesson one learns over and over again throughout one's life: you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Why are we unable to permeate this into our brains, so that every day is filled with affection and appreciation for the people in our communities? God knows I miss my mentor, God knows I miss my brother. And on some nights, when archer-skeletons stalk past my windows and A.C.M.s growl just outside my door, there are indeed some nights I might welcome Ellen Sewall herself for nothing other than a warm loaf of bread and a quiet chat. Merely that, just setting aside past hostilities and grievances; two adults sitting at a table in a cabin, breaking bread and being human.

Of a sudden, I knew that even if I should quit this messuage, this atoll, my wandering about the continent would be meaningless, directionless. So somewhere between missing Massachusetts and craving for a point to my existence, I formed a plan. It was not a great plan, it would not solve everything, but at least it would lend meaning to my days, rather than merely fishing my posterior off or growing fat on bread and potatoes.

Surround the compass with paper and, for no good reason: a
With limitless time at my disposal, and with a strange riddle-work at play behind the scenes of this world's reality, I began to puzzle at how to construct a map. I could walk about the coast and estimate distance and curvature with quill and paper, of course, but I suspected there must be some arcane way to build a more accurate map within this realm's physical laws. There is, of course: you simply combine a compass with a piece of paper.

Don't ask me how this works. It just does.

So: you cultivate a yard of sugar canes, and these can be pulverized into sugar (for baking, one wildly assumes) or pulped into a crude paper. And right at this moment, as I pen these words, I wonder why I have not left notes in my palisades on Bartram and Ellery Islands, should anyone discover these. At the time, of course, I did not suppose there was another living man in the entire world, and why should I have done, then.

At any rate, the empty map appears on the workbench, and in this state it will not hold ink. I have attempted to write upon the empty map, different from paper, and it resists marking and marring entirely. Instead, one simply goes outside to activate it by holding it in both hands and staring at it purposefully. 

The villagers' cabin and garden.
The cabin and the hunting fields.
The atoll, fields and two islands.
The atoll and the terra incognita.

The map fills itself in with the immediate area. I know not yet how the map determines where to begin charting the territory: as you can see in the first map, the white marker that represents me is in the upper left, rather than the center; in the third map I'm indicated closer to center, but in the fourth it has drifted once more. The way these other maps are made is by placing the completed map in the center of the workbench and surrounding it with more sheets of paper (not empty maps). The regions that are marked are a circle about oneself, and the map revises and completes itself as one wanders about. For the third map, I bothered to hop into my little boat and sailed out into the greater ocean, drifting past a few islands merely for the example: the strands and shoals populate themselves upon the map as I near them. This is quite convenient, and the accuracy is beyond reproach.

The green dot indicates where the wall-mounted map was created.
If one were to take an empty map and lay it beside the completed map on the workbench, then it creates a duplicate map. This can be useful if one is prone to losing maps (ahem) or if one merely wishes to place a map on the wall, as I have done. I suppose, with limitless time and resources, I could cover the wall in contiguous maps and limn the whole of my world, or at least tremendous portions of it, should I be so inclined.

Rather, I wish...

It has not consciously occurred to me until now, but I wish to return to Walden Pond. I wish to return to Concord. I suppose this distant longing has been in my heart the entire time I have spent here, in this erratic and nonsensical world, but I lacked the temerity to voice it. Hear me now: I will return to Massachusetts.

The sole obstacle to this is that I have not the slightest notion how this may be effected. I know not whether I age, whether I may die permanently, or what mystical agent it was that brought me thence should some day deliver me thither. But I will not rely upon the unknown to restore me, if ever it should. As of this moment, I commit myself to the pursuit of greater and better information, such that I may bend this world's rules to my will and go home once more. Whether it is something within me that holds me back remains to be seen; whether there is a greater quest I must resolve before being restored, there is no way yet of knowing. But I will travel and map my progress, and I will seek to understand all of Creation, all in the desperate belief that there is an answer in the core of it.

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