Sunday, November 15, 2009

took a weekend out of the usual routine, missed webheads and the quaker meeting, not to mention my saturday morning lay-around-and have-a-big-cup-of-coffee; this was because it was my turn to take the eight-year-old down to cape for a soccer tournament, both early saturday morning and early sunday morning. it was a pleasure to spend a little time with him, as he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, with his busy life, and my fussing a lot more about his older brothers, and his younger one. but he's plugging away in there too, doing his best at soccer, learning spanish and english at school, and in general, being totally eight.

i bring it up, because the trip down to cape takes one through what is by far one of the prettiest areas of southern illinois, the river bluff-shawnee forest stretch of 127, down through pomona and alto pass. i find this area stunningly beautiful, even more so on a foggy sunday morning, but it opens out into this vast lowland swampy area, a place where the trail of tears ended for a large contingent of native americans, where the water stretches out in wide vastness and simply can't be crossed, if one doesn't have the means. when we got to cape, we crossed a new bridge down there, an interesting structure that i should have taken a picture of, but which, instead, i will probably just borrow a picture of, picnik it up, and stick it here as if it were mine. such is my moral laxness these days; it's more that i'm just tired, and didn't bother to take the picture myself, when i was there. my friend, father of my son's best friend, tells me about how the word 'bridge' is masculine in one language (german maybe?) but feminine in another (spanish? or do i have it backward?) thus bridges are given similarly gendered descriptions (strong, graceful, whatever) depending on whether they are seen as male or female. i'd like to look this up. the vast river flows below us; it's blue, reflecting the sun peeking through a warm cloudy day.

the tournament is a disappointment on a strictly win-loss basis, but, having spent time with my kid, on a fresh-air weekend day, i guess it's mostly a win, for me at least, regardless of the team's record. we are clearly in the south, though we just crossed the river, from the east to west. it's a slightly different culture, maybe a way-different culture, but, we're only an hour from home, and, what we see, on the river, is very familiar. cape was once the capital of french louisiana, i am told. it now has a large building with rush limbaugh's family name on it, but otherwise looks like many other missouri towns- that, plus a little of french louisiana thrown in. we're tourists; i don't have to take it all that seriously. i realize that i'm a little prejudiced against missouri- having lived so close to it for so long. but i actually kind of like missouri, too.

on saturday i got into a conversation about different experiences with the amish- this was because i'd had several, and they were quite interesting. in general blogging helps me recollect them, think about them, tell them better- i'm here, basically, because of blogging. so i tell this story about the amish and my banjo, and a bridge over the english river, and kalona amish, who to this day i don't know all that well, in spite of living amongst them. in other words, even though i once dreamed of having one of those beautiful amish farms, down by shiloh and the english river valley, deep down i knew it wasn't much more than a pipe dream, this was a dream that wasn't going far. but, if a community is divided about whether it's ok to have lace curtains, what does that say? we pondered that question for a moment.

on sunday, though, getting out on that beautiful road, on its way snaking through the apple and wine country, there were a couple of amish, a man and a woman, walking right down the highway, black and white as could be. this would be sunday morning at about seven thirty or eight. i almost stopped the car dead in the road and asked them who they were. but, that wouldn't be polite i guess, i mean, i'm sure they wouldn't do that to me, if i were walking in the road. and yet, hmm, maybe they're moving in down here; that would be nice.

i have other memories of the weekend- a town where "fusion" dining seems to be all the rage; a mural celebrating missouri natives, and at the same time protecting against flood waters; a little town called 'ware,' not far from the road to tamms, and the big new bridge. the bridge itself- a high, white, graceful yet simple structure. i don't generally have much good to say about the state boys, the infrastructure folks, but here i've got to hand it to them- it looks nice. it's graceful, like a dove, or, maybe, a seagull. which is not to say it'll last forever. but, for now, i'm here, on this side, and, when you live on the river or near it as we do, one thing that's your regular lot, and a good thing to boot, is to put your feet on the other side, just as a matter of principle. it's one huge country, it's one huge river; and, a kind of double-winged white-spirited bridge can help remind you of that, if you let it.


Anonymous bruce said...

Nephew-man is also a soccer player. The Lebo cup season just finished. They didn't win too many games this season. But I'm just glad that they have a league that 8th graders can play in.

9:26 AM  

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