Saturday, May 10, 2008

I am reading a new book by a favorite author and friend, Donald Harington. Farther Along is his 14th novel about the fictional Arkansas community of "Stay More." It is also offers a glimpse into an earlier time in which people were much more comfortable with their hands and found both solace and inspiration in their company.
... I took note of his long-fingered, almost delicate hands in contrast to the pudgy body: he was not simply clasping them but allowing the thumbs and fingers to play, to interact, almost to dance with one another, like lords and ladies, bowing and curtseying, tripping and curveting. It was fascinating to watch this. It did not at all seem to be a nervous habit but rather a graceful way to keep the fingers from being idle...

At length he noticed my absorption with his fingers, and chuckled. He held them up and pressed them together as if in prayer. "These here's my friends," he said, and let them back off and come together as in a square dance. Then he introduced them to me, one by one, and each bowed or curtsied as it was introduced.

The left thumb: "Tricky Jick"
The right thumb: "Large George"
The left forefinger: "Day Digit"
The right forefinger: "Diana Banana"
The left middle finger: "Learnin Vernon"
The right middle finger: "Jeleny Wieny"
The left ring finger: "Every Clever"
The right middle finger: "Latha the Way"

He paused significantly and gave me an impish look before introducing the last couple,

The left little finger: "Little No Name"
The right little finger: "Stoney Nub"

I knew then many things, if I were sober and did not simply imagine this young moonshiner. I knew most importantly that he was no mere uncouth teen-aged moonshining hermit. And no mere choreographer of fingers. He was a sorcerer, possibly a wizard or warlock, an illusionist. He was Tricky Jick, the left thumb. He did not frighten me at all.
If you are a reader of Harington novels, you may recognize the cast of characters. We use our fingers to develop mental frameworks through which we create a sense of order and comprehension in our lives in the same way the teen-aged moonshiner used his to create a sense of his community. When I plan the sequence of coming events, I count on my fingers, my own Tricky Jick taking the lead. Thanks Don for adding one more wonderful view of the Wisdom of the Hands.

1 comment:

Dana Jones said...

That's a great passage. I'm a Harington fan too. His words can really sweep you away from your present reality.