Sunday, November 07, 2010

if i'm in the sandwich generation, and i am, what with teenagers out there trying to make it, and parents in trouble and needing help, then i say, pass the mayonnaise, because it might be a long haul here, for a while. i don't want to go into the details, but basically, life is hard on the young folks, and it's not so easy on the older ones either, falling as they are into what is politely called decline. in our own fifty-something lives, we feel the pain of every fall, stiff knees, headaches from sleeping wrong, but that's nothing, i assure you, compared to being eighty-something, or being twenty-something, and having life smack you a big one upside the head.

it's what i call holiday season, the high holy holidays, but it's my own personal holidays, my own personal favorite week of perhaps the entire year, when the splashy bright yellows and reds of october turn daily, relentlessly, into crisp burnt umber browns and oranges, and leaves curl, let go and drift; yesterday was gingko day, a day when an entire tree lost all its leaves in one day, and, as far as i know, gingkos around town did the same. it could have been the hard frost, or maybe it was "gingko day" - one of the high holy days - when its leaves, which look like oriental fans, but stink, came down by the hundreds every time a breeze passed through. now i don't need any more holidays in my lineup - i have saints' day, souls' day, guy fawkes day, bonfire day, sadie hawkins day - and i can't keep track of the ones i have, but i could add gingko day among them, if only i could be assured that it comes at roughly the same time every year. but much as i watch closely, all the changes, this time of year, i don't know even that for a fact. did it happen at this time last year? i can't remember.

which reminds me, one of the scariest things, in my opinion, is loss of memory, just in general; it's not that i don't have lots of things in there that i wouldn't mind losing track of, it's just that, to me, if you lose your bearings altogether, that's really scary. i saw a homeless guy at the park today; he's been there before, and if he was really dangerous, i'm sure they would have found out and scooped him up, but, even though he wasn't, he kind of scared me, because i see myself sometimes, sitting at that eternal bench, no place to go, no memory of loved ones, maybe, or no energy left to go find them. having cast the young ones out, i can only hope they wake up each day with a sense of purpose, to survive, to enjoy, to live life to its fullest- but sometimes i find the wind out of my own sails, somehow cast adrift in the sea of a darkly changing world, with memory slipping as to who was back there, on shore, that even knew i was out here. no, i snap myself out of it, there are a lot of people who care; i'm right in the thick of it. and there are some who really really need me too, so i can't even afford to breathe out. it's a scary shadow, like old age, hiding behind the post up by the edge of the park, not violent so much as just unsettling.

so the gingkos fall in one big smelly pile which i rake a little, and then the following day, forget entirely about "fall back" which i should include in my pantheon of holidays since it also has come at an opportune time, and is essentially good, in that you get this extra hour. but again, i can't remember if it comes at the same time every year; seems to me it used to be in october. if they would keep it in november i could put it right up there with saints and souls as one of the best, election day, sadie hawkins day, all these cool days, some of which i only remotely even understand. what i will say though is, there i am, with the little boys, at quaker meeting, and went for a walk at the japanese garden and the sculpture garden, with camera (pix will follow i hope), and it was a stunning day, absolutely gorgeous, though the nine-year-old would always rather be home reading harry potter. so we took that hour, the one that drifted out of the sky like a gingko leaf, and used it, specifically, in a holiday kind of way. i put a picture of the fall colors on my facebook and realized, based on the comments, that in fact it's a stunning show; i should remember that, and appreciate that, sit back for a moment, even, and watch the show. the pile of leaves may sit out there, on the curb; we rarely get it together to call the city, and often the winds will blow it around before we even get a chance to haul it back into the back yard. i like to have them out there, though, even though they take up a parking space. it's a space i don't need, and besides, those leaves, dead and smelly as they are, change colors just like the rest of 'em, stand as sentinel in the front yard, make the squirrels go around. it gets colder; much darker in the evenings; the air is crisp, and there's much more of orion around every curve.

again, i fall asleep as i write. i've been grading all weekend, at this very window, though i took a minute in the middle of a thick cup of coffee, and watched the gingkos flying. i got sick of it, yes, but i got some time off too, and got to see a little of the color, here and around, as i walked out the door. the little guy painted the pumpkin, and now it wears its pale colors as it shrinks into itself for the winter, and becomes a little scarier as it rots. we now have a new kitty, casper, who flits around, making war with little candy wrappers, and we have yet a third kitty who we might give away because we merely saved her from certain death, but without the intention of having and keeping a third. either way, with the young critters, there's no question of getting tired, stopping, catching one's wind, trying to recharge or find a reason to get out of bed on a monday: they spring forward almost every day, sometimes without me even seeing them - the young know, instinctively, that they have to practice constantly, in order to grow, improve, survive. i, however, am waiting for just a sliver of vacation, or, at the very least, a true weekend.


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