Friday, July 15, 2011

back in the south now, hannibal missouri to be exact, and it’s really not so extreme; it’s hot, but not over a hundred; it’s sunny but people are going about their lives as if this were a good day to get out in it. in fact I am in a wal-mart parking lot where my wife is trying to buy a movie or two for the boys to help us get through the last four or five hours of a very long drive. vacation is over. now it’s back to work, which, for my wife, will be chairing a sociology department and teaching, in about a month; for me, it’s watching the boys for that month and then back to teaching with everyone else in mid-august. with a possible union showdown happening I will be grateful to be home pulling tomatoes out of the garden, because I have a kneejerk radical way of talking about these things that doesn’t help anyone and certainly doesn’t moderate the nature of the discussion.

what was my favorite part of the vacation? ely, definitely, though I don’t know why. it had a rowdy, ends of the earth feel to it, way up there in the superior forest, surrounded by lakes, a half step from canada, yet over-full of outfitters and one out of every two or three vehicles lugging kayaks. By the time vacation was over I was ready to move to Minnesota, though as we discussed it I knew there was no way; still, to me, ely would be the place. ely, or maybe duluth itself, which was a medium-sized town, had the lake, had hills, had a lot of stuff, and was pretty besides.

here in the sun-baked wal-mart parking lot I hear someone yelling at his wife/girlfriend, “that’s all the f-in money I’ve got,” which is to say he doesn’t have enough, or any, but he’s got an SUV and a wife or girlfriend, and who knows who else in the back. It’s a normal day, hot, oppressive, lots of people coming and going, no internet connection that I can reach. This town would be ok, if you could do like mark twain or john Hartford, get right down on the river, and stay that way. up here in the wal-mart parking lot, it’s a little hot.

the drive down from the north shore to here was deliberately long; we tried to stop for a few hours in minnehaha park in Minneapolis in order to get the boys out, wear them out, use them up a little so they would be calm at night and we could do more serious driving. It only partly worked. Minneapolis was wonderful and featured an accidental drive right past my old neighborhood at thirty-eighth and columbus, an odd and very urban neighborhood; we also drove through st. paul again and around Minnehaha a little too much, as roads were confusing and we got lost (an apparently weren’t the first). Naturally Minneapolis brought up a bunch of old memories, but this was nothing compared to iowa in which every single exit was a place I’d lived, or worked, or did something or other that I’d just as soon forget. I was grateful when, finally late at night, everyone fell asleep except me, and I was able to drive right past this historically rich region (cedar rapids, north liberty, iowa city, coralville, hills, kalona, washington, you name it, I lived in it)…more later; we’re on the road again…


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