Friday, October 08, 2010

it's clear & beautiful, almost every minute; nights are cool, and mornings even have a touch of fog, almost ready to frost sometimes. days are very sunny, very clear, a little hot sometimes though you always have too many jackets, especially if you're up early or ride a bike like i do. actually, it's world series weather, but they've changed the world series; now they don't play it until much later, when it's already sleeting and miserable; now, they're just getting started with the playoffs, which is actually the best baseball usually, but who has time to even watch it, when it's this beautiful.

lots of driving around these days, and in the good weather i might open up the window and watch the town go by as i do. i spend a lot of time on the main east-west road, called thirteen, which has three lanes and is one way all the way through town; lights are rigged so they are usually green; but a train occasionally stops you for a minute or two; this is what goes for a traffic jam. it's not bad; i stick to the outside lanes, because the middle crowds me. there's a woman in town; she's on a wheelchair, and she comes toward me ion the sidewalk or on the street, usually with enough room, but not always. she has an uncanny knack for lurching at me unpredictably as if she's going to take that extra foot and drive me into the center lane. it could be my imagination of course; she may have no more awareness that it's me out there, or she may do that anyway, just as a matter of trying to negotiate crooked sidewalks. she's out there a lot. i don't begrudge her the room. the lurch is unsettling. it's like it's directed at my subconscious. and it's right on target; it gets me every time.

i like to call october show your colors month because i figure, the earth is in that business, and so is everyone else. it's a little showy for me, the bright oranges, they yellows, the changes every day here in the green country; i actually like november better, because the muted browns are a little more subtle, and they also change every day, and the air is still fresh and beautiful then, just a little less parched. but anyway, it brings people out here. maybe it's the long hot summer, maybe it's the oversupply of young students, all at the beginning of the semester, but whatever it is, they're all over the place. traffic, accidents, rowdiness, you name it. this is a town where halloween caused street riots for many years running; it was then outlawed, and the bars closed over that weekend, so people just generally moved up the celebrations to last the entire month, though they have held off on the violence, thankfully, for a while anyway. it's homecoming also, and that means there's lots of extra traffic, and a parade in addition, but we take that all in stride; the parade, anyway, runs on the north-south road, fifty-one, and doesn't affect those of us on the east-west much. i have two soccer games and a birthday party in the morning; i might miss that parade this year.

it's a tenuous balance, living in such a small town, with such a busy life; my older boys have cars, drive all the same roads i do, only much less carefully. everyone works and then tears around in our free time, going here or there, often going somewhere for dinner; often going back and forth to soccer or to some place over there on the east side like the home improvement/gardening place which my wife is favoring these days. i've become somewhat obsessed by the traffic itself though; the three lines of cars, southern illinois passing through town; the places where the lanes don't match evenly and everyone has to edge over a bit; the sunset on the illinois license plates. it's a slice of life, but it's a large slice of mine, these days.

this town now has two stores devoted entirely to halloween only. i'm not sure how that happened. it doesn't seem to me you could make money selling that kind of plastic costume, or window decoration, or whatever they might sell, but, i guess, nobody makes that stuff anymore. i assume they'd have the business, or they wouldn't even try opening. this, however, is not my kind of store. it's one i may never set foot in at all. we have homemade pumpkin, i think maybe it's pink, and it dangles from our tree, but i'm not sure people even see it; we don't get much traffic on my street. anyway, decoration is big in a small town such as this; you often see whole yard displays, big balloon santas, turkeys, balloon pumpkins, you name it, you'll be seeing it straight through until about january and maybe beyond. but, the town being full of young punks and all, there is a lot of decoration-theft going on too, to the point that i wouldn't even try putting a pink flamingo out there. it would be like saying, steal me, i dare ya.

my colors are: steady at the wheel. make it 'til the next november. this is a good place, this time of year; it's not a city, doesn't even have a river, but it has a couple of creeks in it that overflow when it rains hard. it has a train, even an amtrak. about every tenth car has someone i know in it. i probably know quite a few more than that too, if i really thought about it, but i don't. the train brings old coal cars that have lively graffiti on them; they must be painted up there in chicago, or somewhere where they have a lively imagination, certainly not here, where we're all too busy just trying to keep body and soul together, and barely have time to rest. the train stops traffic, and i sit there, sometimes watching the cars, on a beautiful day like this, and wonder why i don't stop and watch a little more, quick while the weather's good. the freight train doesn't even stop here; it slows down; it makes a little noise, it shows us its graffiti; it stops traffic for a minute or two - then, off it goes, up to the city, and i'm back to my errands. it happens a lot. it's what i call "rush minute" - but that's actually tongue-in-cheek, because in many ways, it's the one minute i rest & take a breather out there, and it doesn't really happen all that much, only when i'm lucky.


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