Tuesday July 7, 2009
This is a fine NY state campground. We are greeted by a smiling tree man upon entry, and have to drive over a creek to come in and out of the park.
Vince and I started the morning with a vigorous hike to the top of the Tremen Falls. He has a bad knee and I have a gimpy leg so between the two of us we set no speed records, which allowed us to truly see and enjoy nature. After lunch, we rode over to visit our friend, Knut. I hadn't seen him since I was last out this way in the summer of 1998. I first met Knut in Heidelberg, Germany around 1973. He was one of the most physically fit and healthy individuals I'd ever met. He was a serious chick magnet and had an artistic flair that I appreciated but could never emulate. He wore jewelry and flamboyant, colorful clothes. He played conga drums and loved all types of African music. Pretty much my opposite but we hit it off nonetheless and stayed in touch throughout the years.
When I returned to the States in the late seventies, he was living in Florida and invited me down to share an apartment he had near Coconut Grove. After I relocated to northern California in the early eighties and started making serious money growing pot, I called him and invited him to come to Mendocino. He came out and stayed for 3-4 years. We sweated and grunted our way through several good harvests in the back hills and woods of Gualala.
On one of his winter trips to the Virgin Islands, he met and fell in love with a girl named Patty. She was a gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed, hippie earth momma that he found irresistible. He moved with her to her farmhouse near Ithaca, New York. He soon learned she was pregnant with his first child. Ever since I had known Knut, he believed he was sterile. Now that Patty was with-child, he was convinced this was a sign from God that they were meant for each other forever. Once that occurred, things began to unravel pretty quickly. Patty took advantage of her position and it went downhill from there. I mention all of this because somewhere along the line, Knut's nerves were shot and he began to shake. Not long afterward he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. During my 1998 visit he seemed much the same as the old days. The initial stages of the disease were relatively mild and we still went hiking, biking and joked around. We three, Vince, myself and Knut went to the Grassroots festival and had a ball. He was upbeat, had an adoring child in Blossom and was still a chick magnet.
Now back to the present, walking into his living room on this July day I was in for was a shock. He looked like an old man. Knut had lost his vitality along with a good 25 pounds. He shuffled and stammered like a geriatric patient. Vince had warned me of the change but I was not fully prepared for this transformation. The only time we could visit with him was between 7 and 9 pm when his medication kicked in. It was sad. In the last 8 years he essentially had not left his house. After about an hour of kicking around some old memories, I saw that we were tiring him so we left.
Meanwhile, Carol and Christie had a grand time shopping and dining in and around the Ithaca Commons, a premier location for such activities. Although they were excited by the sights and sounds of their expedition, I was a bit subdued that evening, contemplating the vagaries of life.