Saturday, September 03, 2011

september is the cruelest month; nobody seems to get my reference, so i'll explain it briefly. when i was a kid, i used to hear april is the cruelest month; this was a common saying around the end of the spring in the north, and referred to the animals, many of whom very much enjoyed the beautiful warm spring weather, but were completely abject at the total lack of food that resulted from the long winter. so winter was over, and you could go outside, and you could enjoy the sun, and thawing out, but all the while you were starving and had no chance of finding anything out there; it was all still pretty much frozen.

so now, september comes around, and a tease of fall is in the air, sometimes cooler, sometimes even reasonable, sun still out, but the long treacherous summer finally shows sign of letting up, and we animals might be able to come outside for a while, but alas, summer comes back for one more hot spell, it lasts about a month, until around the first of october. so september really is the last month of summer, as it's still plenty hot, and tends to even stay that way. the food is not a problem; the garden, after wilting in the july and august heat, gets a second time around, and even grows new vegetables. baseball turns into football and once baseball itself gets serious, and the weather gets good, people seem to forget about it, and it's one of those summer sports that ends up playing in winter, just like the winter sports play biggest in june, and it's all so backwards i tend to lose track of it all.

now i have to say there's a september birthday in the crowd, and it happened one year in seoul in an apartment by the highway not far from the great bus terminal that sent korean holiday travelers fanning out around the countryside for the chusok holiday that always happens at the peak of fall's clear beautiful blue-sky dry harvest weather. when a little boy is born in seoul one puts red peppers on one's doorway and then people leave you alone for about a month assuming that you are struggling to keep the baby alive. after one month, you come out, show, celebrate, line up the baby and welcome him into the world. in the dry season if the dry culverts and the concrete washes aren't full of water they are often used to dry red peppers which are spread out by the local people and catch the sun in a very sharp way, though if this was supposed to represent maleness (girls got paper on their doorways) i was never quite sure how that happened. there was red pepper in virtually everything you ate, and it was usually fresh, sharp, firy. there was a lot of diesel fuel in the air, smell of barbeque, hot things to eat, people selling things off hand-drawn carts. buses would be more than full of people but the smell of good food would be everywhere- when you got on, when you got off, when you'd drive by a little place, when the window of the bus was still open.

the smell and cool wind of fall is supposed to give me a burst of energy and often does; i even feel, somewhat like others, the feeling of hope accompanying a new school year. actually in the stifling swooning heat of a day like today i feel the desire to sink low in my couch, fan on me, play the bog, with or without my brother and sister (who, when they both join me, rock and often beat the whole bog situation; the other night we racked up a stunning pile of points and knocked off pseudonym, team axolotl, the whole gang)'s labor day, or at least the labor day weekend, day of rest for workers; i'm set back by pure tiredness, which translates into laziness, desire to not leave this couch. it's supposed to rain and get cooler later; maybe it will, and maybe not. twenty four years later, i look back on a long ride, a good kid, he gets a good feeling when he has red peppers, and much of the rest of life seems, i'd guess, to be a little overwhelming. hang in there, i'd say, clear days are ahead, life isn't easy, and one has to find one's own way in it. it's a series of tough breaks, hard turns, difficult choices, and in the end you're on your own. down at the army base in the center of seoul an army rabbi gave him a bris, as a baby, cut him, and he cried hard until they put a finger of wine in his mouth, and he settled down a little while, realizing that even those who loved him most, his parents, weren't always going to protect him from the pain of life...the weather cooling off, clear, blue sky, in seoul as well as here, yet you would never be so exposed ever again. and, people celebrated. maybe what's to celebrate, is not having to endure such pain forever.


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