Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fleetwood Mac -- "Dust" (1972)

When your swift hair is quiet in death
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labor of my breath --
When we are dust, when we are dust!

You don't expect to come face-to-face with the death of a young man and the grief that death caused his family -- especially his mother -- when you set off to take a bike ride on the first day of your summer vacation.

It all started when I decided to take a break near the end of my long drive to Cape Cod last month and pulled off the interstate in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, to ride on the Phoenix Rail Trail.

The Phoenix is a fairly nondescript rail trail that goes through some not-very-scenic neighborhoods in Fairhaven.  This sign is indicative of the businesses that are located along the old railroad right-of-way that the trail follows:

(As that sign indicates, a "honeywagon" is a truck that's used to pump out septic tanks or cesspools.  It also refers to the mobile toilet unit used by the cast and crew when a movie or television show is being shot on location.) 

Here is an enigmatic message that someone had spray-painted on to the trail:

If you know what "We live on crumbling cries/Indulge in pleasure/And choke on the crust" means, I hope you'll tell me -- because I don't have a clue.

I had ridden to the end of the trail, turned around, and was almost back to my car when I saw a side trail heading south towards Buzzards Bay and decided to explore it.  It went past a radio station tower and several large windmills, and then dead-ended at a small body of water.  This plaque was affixed to a concrete slab upon which there was a wooden bench overlooking the water:

Next to the bench was a sort of shrine:

I don't know who created this memorial to Matt.  It could have been his girlfriend.  (There was no mention of a wife in his obituary, so I assume he wasn't married.)  It could have been his father, or one or both of his brothers, or a close friend.  But I'm guessing that Matt's mother was responsible for this collection of devotional objects.

Here's a closeup of the small metal pyramid that hangs from the wooden post that you can see in the previous picture:

And here's a closeup of the printed card you can see at the base of the wooden "T" in that picture:

It's difficult to read the words on that card from the photo.  Here's what it says:

Thinking of you --

I miss you so much.  Everyday I expect the phone to ring or a letter to come, but it doesn't.  I hope you know how much I love you and even though you have passed from this life you are forever in my heart.  You were such a fine young person ready to share with the world all the talents you had.  I count my blessings to have had you here as long as I did but I wish it were longer.

Love always and more --

Sounds to me like a mom wrote that -- but regardless of who the author is, it's a lovely message.

I got on the computer the next day and found Matt's obituary, which said that he had died from injuries suffered in a car accident.  His survivors included his parents, two brothers, three grandparents, five uncles, two aunts, and several nieces and nephews -- according to the obituary, he loved spending time with those nieces and nephews.

Another story in the local newspaper reported that Matt's mother -- who worked at the hospital where he died -- was also the assistant coach for the local high school cheerleading squad, which was scheduled to travel to the state championships a few days after Matt's death.  The girls thought about cancelling their trip, but decided that Matt's mom would want them to go.

Fairhaven High School
Mrs. Lovegrove showed up unexpectedly when the team assembled at 6:30 in the morning to board the school bus that would take them to the competition.  The girls took third place in the statewide meet, and on the drive back to Fairhaven, asked the bus driver to drive them to the Lovegrove home so they could show her their trophy and give her some hugs.

"Dust" is from the 1972 Bare Trees album.  I originally was going to write about the title song from that album, but there are several songs on Bare Trees that are suitably somber and elegiac for this post -- in particular, "Dust."

The lyrics to "Dust" are taken from the first two stanzas of the Rupert Brooke poem of the same name.  Brooke was an English poet who was born in 1887.  He was admired equally for his brilliance and his good looks.  (Yeats described him as "the handsomest young man in England," and Virginia Woolf claimed to have gone skinny-dipping with him when they were both students at Cambridge.)

Rupert Brooke
But Brooke's life ended in 1915, when he was just 27.  He was stationed on a Royal Navy ship in the Mediterranean, and developed sepsis after a mosquito bite became infected.  He was buried in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros.

Here's "Dust" -- one of the most haunting songs you'll ever hear:

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