I have known for almost an entire month about the Mason jars. Britt even gave me three for my birthday, in anticipation of my wrath. But as the days ticked by, I found myself resisting my prescription from Cissy (to throw the Mason jars and break them). I’ve been full of excuses and I’ve felt ridiculously justified in using them.
But in three days I have an appointment with Cissy and I want to have good news to report. Today I awoke early, worked on my Goddard application for a few hours, and then began cooking. For breakfast I made hot, creamy barley with dried apricots and apples, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. Using the fruit freed up one Mason jar. For lunch, I cooked a long, slow lentil, rice, and organic turkey sausage stew with fennel seeds, chicken stock, garlic, and basil. Using the lentils freed up another Mason jar.
By mid-afternoon I was mentally prepared. While the soup simmered on the stovetop, I heard a live-air weather warning for the tri-county area (that would be the county I live in, plus one on either side of it). The announcement predicted four to six inches of snow and sudden drops in temperature into the early evening. I glanced outside and saw that an ominous, globular line of clouds was forming over the tops of the Black Mountains, and the ridgeline was no longer visible. But in the rest of the sky, not a cloud was in sight. I have witnessed this weather pattern before and knew the radio warning was right. If I was going to hike up to the land and kill some Mason jars, I had better hop to it.
I turned off the soup, tossed the fresh basil leaves in, and put the lid on. Next, I grabbed two five-gallon buckets to collect kindling in (if there’s going to be snow, all the kindling will be buried and wet, and I only had enough left for three fires), and of course, the five Mason jars. Within seven minutes I was turning up the face of the Black Mountains and inching my car along the newly carved driveway that will soon lead to my parents’ house. This is just down the road from Joe’s property and not far from the National Forest line.
I come here to collect kindling because I know the land and because there is plenty of it since some trees were cut down in order to dig the house site. But this also seems like an appropriate place for the Mason jars. It’s our land, first of all, so no one can complain. Second, I’ve got to throw these jars into the future, so to speak, and get my anger out and with each subsequent explosion, free myself more and more into the hopefully lighthearted days that lie ahead. Since I’ll own this land one day, this seems like an important symbolic decision.
I hike up the old forest road past the house site and in the direction of the acre I’d love to build a yurt on someday. Up here the road narrows to a footpath and I spot, surprisingly for the first time, an old pile of rusty appliances. These go way back to the pre-county-dump era, when locals hauled off their waste to the nearest patch of land or ditch that was unclaimed. For decades people dumped illegally in these parts, and nothing seemed sacred. My father has done a lot of work hauling off appliances from the sides of the old forest road on our land, and this pile must be the last of what remains.
Immediately I know that this was meant to be. I hadn’t been too keen on throwing the Mason jars at trees, anyway, and I wasn’t confident about my aim. But a Kenmore washer and dryer? An old refrigerator? A rotten box spring mattress? A double-kitchen sink unit? An old stove and pipe? A Sears dryer? Two washers of unidentifiable brands? I can hit these. Oh, I can hit these. With sudden elation I run toward the pile and begin poking around. I climb all over the rusty metal, my foot getting lost in sinkholes and I come dangerously close to slicing my hands a few times. This breaks all the rules but I don’t give a damn. I am getting revved up and I have to dig around in this place and set up my stage so I can get to work.
The sound my feet make on the rusty, hollow, appliances is excellent. I decide I need to knock over the refrigerator. When else do you get a chance to kick the hell out of a refrigerator and knock it over in triumph? With three swift kicks an echo rolls up the hill and the beast tumbles onto the pile of other appliances. I kick it one more time for good measure. Oh, that felt good.
To my wonderful surprise I find that there are handfuls brown glass Bud Light bottles scattered throughout the rusty appliances. I grab them recklessly, foolishly tossing them over my head and in the direction of my pitcher’s mound (the footpath). When all is said and done, I have collected twelve bottle-neck Bud Light’s to accompany my five Mason jars. I toss one half-heartedly just for kicks and it smashes into the Kenmore, shattering in half and making an excellent sound.
Suddenly, I am moved to work hard and fast, to get this over with. I imagine all the things I am angry about, all the things that hurt. For some of the bottles I imagine people, and toss them wildly into the side of the Kenmore. This is pretty good for a Buddhist, actually (I usually don’t like to admit such frustration or disappointment or anger with people, but just imagining it with the jars helps.) To my surprise, some of the brown glass is difficult to break. I have to interrupt my flow a few times to dash back down to the pile of appliances and retrieve a Bud Light that did not shatter. I refuse to leave anything behind; I must break it all, it’s my prescription.
The tension builds in my body and in my mind. I am sweating now, dashing up and down the hill, tossing bottle after bottle, re-tossing a few, saving the Mason jars for last. I come to two particularly stubborn Bud Lights and decide to smash them right up against the side of the Kenmore with my bare fists. The washer is completely dented now, and looks sweaty and shiny in the afternoon sunlight. Chunks of glass glisten across its metal body and snow begins to fall. For a moment I actually want my hands to get cut, but then I remember my instruments, my keyboard. I have to squint my eyes to protect them from the glass but I take in a deep breath and let out a barbaric “High-ya!” while slamming the two bottles at point-blank range right into the Kenmore. Glass splatters everywhere, I crunch up my face, then look down at my hands. Only the broken, brown necks remain, clenched tightly beneath my white knuckles, and I toss them at the rusty stovepipe as an afterthought. They crumble in a satisfying, splintering manner and the ground sparkles with the shimmery, brown innards of my work.
There are five Mason jars left and I can hardly wait. I practice my grip and settle on three fingers inside the jars, two fingers out. I take a pitcher’s stance, I shuffle my feet, I shout, and BAM! Oh the explosion is glorious! Clear glass flies lightly through the air, blending with the snow and shining oddly in the cool air. The clouds move quickly down the mountains in the background and I feel as though storms of energy are moving inside me, too. Quickly, I go through the next two, one for **** and one for **** and take this and take that and yes, yes, yes, this feels so good and High-ya all over again.
Two Mason jars remain and I am solemn. Slowly, steadily, I pick each one up, toss them in my hands simultaneously, considering what I need to throw away with the jars as I offer my final thrust at the world. I take off my coat and gloves and wool hat, offer a bullish grunt, step back, exhale a deep breath, then slam the hell out of the Kenmore two more times.
My war ended, only one task remains. Evidence. I approach the battlefield of appliances and glass crunches under my feet. I stare at the pile with pride, then reach down and grab a relatively safe looking medium-sized chunk from one of the Mason jars. The snow pelts down on my hot skin and piles up on my forgotten coat, hat and gloves. I look slowly at the piece of glass and smile: A-S-O-N is written on it, though the bottom half of each letter is chopped off. This ought to do it, I think, putting the piece in my pocket to show to Cissy, this ought to do it.