The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 01, 1993, Page 5, Image 5

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    Commune teaches life lessons
A batch of old communemates
were back in the fold over the
I was sort of misty-eyed at the sight
of former roommates, and while it
might have been because of the Rum
ple Minze, I like to think it was
thoughts of the camaraderie we shared.
It made me remember all the peo
ple who had passed through the Isle
Broddick doors, all the waifs of soci
ety, the tired, poor, huddling masses
yearning to use our electric skillet.
Many have paid their dues at the
Isle before going on to bigger and
better things. Twelve people have
called the Isle home at various times.
Gabe was at the Isle on Saturday
night. A regular of the old days, Gabe
took his Winstons and moved in with
another former Islemate, Dave. Right
now they’re in the process of being
evicted from their new pad because of
a silly little 15-person brawl police
recently stopped at their house.
As Dave slowly cut apples in the
Isle’s kitchen Saturday night, Gabe
drank a beer in the living room. He
wore his Super Bowl shirt, the one
that has each year’s logo and final
score. He looked thoughtful, and I
saw my chance.
I asked Gabe what his time at the
Isle had taught him. Was it a kind of
turning point in life, a new beginning,
perhaps? Maybe the Isle taught him
important lessons about living in so
ciety, I thought.
Gabe paused, searching for the right
“I learned how to tell the differ
ence between sofas,” he said, smiling.
Sofas, I said to myself. The com
mon house couch. There was some
thing to that idea of Gabe’s, a nugget
of wisdom about where so many of us
sit each day. I wondered if the 10 Isle
sofas were the beginning of some link
I might find between all of the former
communemates, graduates of the Isle
I began remembering other former
Islanders. Jazzy, the strange girl who
I asked Gabe what his time at
the Isle had taught him. Was it a
kind of turning point in life, a
new beginning, perhaps?
wandered in with Dave one day and
made odd hand gestures. Brett, who
recently shaved his head and moved
to the Twin Cities to work at a Sbarro
pizza joint. Angela, who tried to rear
range our furniture and finally moved
to Florida. Josh, who now lives under
his girlfriend’s parents’ iron fist. Brian,
who sold perfume and skipped town
just one step ahead of an arrest war
Did these people have anything in
common? And as I ponder leaving the
Isle after next semester, do their expe
riences foretell aspects of my future?
Also in town this weekend was one
of the most enigmatic of all the former
communcmates. If the Isle affected
anyone, it was Kevin.
He came to us an angry youth who
kept a “hit list” of people who crossed
him for the day he could buy a gun
named Grumsch. Kevin was on pro
bation, and he drank Spaghetti-Os
straight from the can. One of his
dreams was to eventually earn de
grees in both psychology and sociol
ogy so he could rule humanity.
Then one day Kevin collided with
Robitussin-DM. The active ingredi
ent, a type of synthetic morphine, was
an over-the-counter demon for Kevin.
As a collection of empty bottles
massed in the basement, Kevin slow
ly metamorphosed into RoboKevin.
Around last December, other stag
es of Kevin began to show them
selves. He cut his hair off and hung it
on the kitchen wall. He spent two days
trying to make a coat out of twine and
playing cards after burning books page
by page on the front porch. He used
odd plants to scare the spirits away
from our basement.
Then Kevin began to find his way.
He moved out of the Isle and took up
rel igion. He now attends a Bible school
and plans on being a missionary some
Kevin sat in the Isle living room
Saturday, talking about Tunisia and
how he wanted to spread his faith. I
got the idea Kevin had transcended
the sofa stage that enraptured Gabe.
I concluded the Isle is whatever a
person wants to make of it. For a few,
it was just another place to smoke. For
others, it was a revelation.
Only lour people live at the Isle
nowadays. Four people and one dog,
that is. I wonder if I have changed
during my stay at the commune, if I
have learned anything about couches
or creation.
I guess I’ve learned a lot about
bathroom scum. I know how to make
a frozen pizza, and I know that Jell-O
becomes a brittle solid if it’s left out
long enough. I’ve learned more about
bugs and police procedure than I ever
wanted to know.
Saying my days there have changed
my life might be going a bit too far. If
I drank a good eight ounces of Robo,
I might see things a little differently.
Phelps is a seaior news-editorial major, a
Daily Nebraskaa senior reporter and a col
Nature’s majesty overwhelming
he leaves rustled, almost like a
soft whistle.
The breeze was slight, al
most still at times.
Overhead, a flock of Canadas flew
by, looking for a field to stop in for
It’s a scene repeated time and again
for me. It’s in my mind like it was the
first time I witnessed it. It’s some
thing! like to remember every once in
a while, especially at this time of the
It’s a scene that will be repeated
this year when I get out to witness the
ritual of the migration.
I have been lucky enough to expe
rience the sights, sounds, smells and
feels of the outdoors in many ways.
To see the wonders of nature is some
thing that means more to me than the
things I have seen as a journalist.
Granted, I have been lucky enough
to witness some pretty impressive
events as a journalist, but the ones I
have seen outside leave me in even
more wonderment.
They arc natural, not man-made.
There is no human control over what
happens outside.
That’s the beauty of it. Man has no
control over nature. Just when we
think we have a grasp on Mother
Nature, she shows us she is in control.
Like this summer, standing out
side my house listening to the rumble
off in the distance. I thought it was
thunder at first, then realized it was
the wind on its way.
When it hit, it hit with such a force
that this town is still showing scars of
the damage. I will never forget the
sound of tne wind coming my way.
I will never forget the sight of
watching a lightning storm south of
town. Sitting there in the truck, win
dows down to catch the breeze, watch
ing the fingers of light dance around
the landscape, wondering what it was
like at ground zero.
I don't think I have ever heard a
more beautiful sound, besides the first
sounds my children made at birth.
Even the sound a snake can
make as it tries to flee from you
is something surprising.
Speeding through the grass
and leaves, a little hognose
snake can make a bit of a rack
L et. |
than the sound ot a great homed owl,
hooting off in the distance on a clear,
cold December night.
There have been many other expe
The sound of thousands of sandhill
cranes, ducks and geese lifting off
from the Platte on a March morning is
deafening. When my wife and I saw
that, we couldn’t hear each other speak
because of the noise.
Standing out back of our house,
looking over the miles of fields north
of town, I listen for the sounds to float
my way.
A meadowlark singing its distinc
tive song from the required fence
The soft brushing of the wind
through the leaves of the pin oaks,
maples and cottonwoods that mark
the fence line.
All of the sounds combine to make
a sort of music that is natural. No rap,
no country, no metal.
You could say the tapping ot a
downy woodpecker is a kind of ani
mal rap, the lonely call of a mourning
dove is a kind of animal country song,
and the explosion and panicked
whoop-whoop-whoop of a ring
necked pheasant bursting from cover
is a kind of animal grunge-metal.
If you have never listened to a light
rain in the woods while standing un
der a tree limb trying to stay dry,
you’ve missed a sound I cannot de
Or if you have not walked through
a snowy field, your footprints the first
to mar the pure whiteness of it, you
have missed the loud crunching sound
that snow, something so soft, can
Even the sound a snake can make
as it tries to flee from you is something
surprising. Speeding through the grass
and leaves, a little hognose snake can
make a bit of a racket.
Walking through a com field, eyes
and ears open and alert for the sights
and sounds of a game bird, I can't help
but be humbled by the greatness of
A friend of my summed it up for
me with his own experience of walk
ing in a field with his dog, watching a
white-tailed deer leap away into the
woods, thanking God for allowing
him to be able to partake of this world. *
There issomething happening here
that is bigger than all of us.
And when walking in either the
firairie, woodlands, wetlands or a com
ield, I can get that sense that there is
indeed something bigger going on
than I can ever imagine.
Experiencing nature, either as a
hunter or witness, can be a very mean
ingful, beautiful and almost spiritual
awakening to the power of something
we have no control over.
Nature will always have some sort
of control on us.
It may be in the form of the breeze
through the trees, a hawk soaring
through the sky or a river meandering
through the landscape, but the control
nature has on us is one that cannot be
Wright i> a graduate itudeat In Journal
ism and a Dally Nebraskan columnist.
cmis oj
thousands oj people
wdl need blood during
the holidays.
Still wondering
what to give?
American Red Cross
Cjne blood again Once more nill be jdt for a lifetime
Room and
Room, Board, and
a whole lotmqre...
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