Friday, March 4, 2016


There's a blue bus in the woods beside one of the roads into Phillipston. (A vague memory of mention of a blue bus in a 1960s rock song, possibly by The Doors, proves not to have been a retrospective hallucination but part of "The End"; but that's neither here nor there since Jim Morrison's blue bus represents something in particular that has nothing to do with the blue bus in or near Phillipston.)

That blue bus is adjacent to a house belonging, to judge from the motor vehicles on the property, to a backyard mechanic. A Phillipston resident refers to the "blue bus route" as one of the ways between his house and the rest of the world -- a bit but not quite like ”Swann's Way" and ”The Germantes Way," the two directions of Proust's protagonist's walks from his childhood home. (I tried to read Remembrance of Things Past a while back. I didn't make much progress.)

The blue bus appears not to be functional. Week after week and year after year it sits in its place in the woods in exactly the same position. I would imagine that its owner got a once-in-a-lifetime bargain on it and drove (or more likely towed) it home -- and from that day to this, there it has sat in the woods, a useful landmark but rather a failure as a bus.

In places like Phillipston, a home mechanic can easily assemble a collection of derelict automobiles. Katharine once spent most of a week in Ackworth, New Hampshire, reducing her brother's collection of dead and dying vehicles to the three that the town had abruptly set as a limit to the number of dysfunctional vehicles permissible on one property.

My father had a derelict vehicle at one point, purchased for some purpose not clear to any of us, perhaps not even to him. When Mother questioned its status he indicated an intention, conceived at that moment I'm sure, to make it the nucleus of a collection. We kids played on the truck until it came to be home to a colony of wasps. The truck subsequently disappeared, unlamented, when we weren't looking.

There is visible in our woods in Otter River -- once a pasture but over my lifetime slowly reverting to its natural state -- some rusted auto parts, surrounded by trees and nearly buried in leaves and pine needles. On closer examination it would seem once to have been most of an automobile, conceivably deposited in the pasture and left to itself while the forces of nature had their way with it. Such, perhaps, will be the fate of the blue bus in Phillipston.

No comments: