Tuesday, January 29, 2013

i've always been a fan of the false spring, 'cept that one year it destroyed all of southern illinois' peach crop, but i wasn't quite prepared for west texas' version of it, which apparently hit us already and it's not even february. in iowa they would call it 'january thaw' though it was just enough for the ice to melt once, then go back under for a few more months of careful walking. down here, we actually had daffodils for a day or two, scores of people out with their dogs in the dog wallow, people playing frisbee and laying around in it. then comes today, and they said, make friends with those lubbock weather folk, watch out, when the wind, and the rain, and the dust all get together you get these globs of mud and it's all streaky and pretty messy.

the globs of mud never materialized, but the wind did rise and it shifted from southwesterly to northwesterly to northerly, 'til it was coming straight down flint while i walked, and when i came around the park and went back north on flint it came down flint and hit me in the face, a hard cold plains wind. not so much sand in my teeth though, and no mud, though maybe they had that earlier. just a cold hard winter wind with a big huge honkin full moon up there, and some clouds flying through.

the clouds are amazing, it's like you're up in a plane during the day, because they're so sharp, and they move, and the sky is so big, maybe it's because we're 3000 feet up already. it's a wild and dramatic sky. so when they say the heavy stuff is coming, in the afternoon, i give my kids a ride the six blocks from school and i don't mess around with it. but at night, i need my exercise and i go out in it, sand in my teeth or not.

so i've got a grim fascination with these fourteen actualists, whose poems together comprise the actualist anthology, a small almost-out-of-print book that i recently got and am now devouring one poem at a time. some of these folks were my friends; some actually good friends; some acquaintances; some i'd never heard of 'til the book arrived in the mail again. i'd lent my first copy out to a friend and never saw it again, then moved, so i had to up and order another to replace it and now i'm impelled: i want it to be distributed again. it's a classic, in my opinion. one of the all-time classics.

couple of kids had a bad car accident on flint the other day, way up north, the other side of campus, about a mile and a half north, and i read the description in the paper, one lost her life over it, so it was quite a tragedy, but best i could figure, somebody just took their time turning right, onto flint, and that caused the other car to swerve and that set the whole thing in motion. these people, and i'm not sure it's a southern thing or what, they just take a little too long getting out of the way. and we all know it's the one behind him's fault, we all know that. you gotta let them crawl out of that right lane at their own pace. i've been there.

my problem is, i dont' know twenty mph wind from forty mph. how do you tell? it all seems pretty bad to me, especially when it bears down from the north. an old can was jumping down flint tonight as i got out there, making a big racket, caught in the wind, which i figure was about twenty. then, i figure, when you feel like you have to hold yourself down to keep from blowing away, then that's maybe thirty. and then when i feel that way, and i weigh two-twenty or thereabouts, then it might be more. and if i really feel like i'm about to blow away, then i guess i don't want to be out in it, even if it's something to see or has that haboob quality. let's face it, this new stuff, i kind of want to see it, i'm like those people my sister criticized, here they had this hurricane/tornado in new york city, and what did people do but go out and try to get pictures of it, go for a stroll. no do not go for a stroll in this stuff, stock up on toothpaste and lock yourself in the back room. or upstairs if there's water involved. i'm not into putting myself against the weather.

and then, you have to take my word for it about the sky, because, when you get down to it, i don't take many pictures either, even though my camera is perfectly well capable. you here, are stuck with the print version, because that's all i've got. i promise to change that though, liven things up a bit.

so i heard a gun shot tonight, it seemed to come from the southern side of the dog-wallow park that i walk around, but i couldn't say much more about it, could be a backfiring motorcycle engine too, as there was a fairly loud motorcycle in the neighborhood at the time. reminded me of a basic difference between texas and the rest of the u.s. in texas, they responded to the sandy hook shootings, basically, by making guns legal in the schools, and even helping the schoolteachers carry them. making it easier for the teachers to have them. in their mind, that's safer, because guns were always for safety, to protect you against wild hogs, and wild armadillo, cougar, or whatever. makes perfect sense if you live in a truly wild west, and you respond to real danger with real gunpowder. so what's bothering me? in my city mind, giving some poor teacher a gun is kind of like setting it out there on the desk where anyone can come along and use any devious trick to get it in their possession. and this would be safer? somehow i picture people who really really need guns going after the schoolteachers because they know it's possible, and because they're desperate. am i twisted or what? ah but the world is twisted, and i'm still trying to bring my kids up in it.

but it underscores a point: we live in a world where guns are traditional, you take them with you, you're alone ten-twelve hours of texas plain, wild boars charging you or whatever, of course you have one and it's loaded too. and everyone is sensible about it, they don't go shooting up schools and such. after the shot in the park, i waited for people screaming, or an ambulance, or police to converge from anywhere two miles away or less, where people would surely have heard it. but it didn't happen. they're used to it, out here too, it was probably no big deal. i'll check for the fox, i hope that feller's still around. i'll check my tires too, because you never know, though my car was in the garage the whole time. that wind will turn, i'm sure of it, and there may yet be some rain too, or at least, the feeling of things softening up and being a little more hospitable. who knows, maybe that's short, maybe it's over by march. but whatever, my eyes are wide open, bring on them tumbleweeds, and duststorms, and whatever else there is. my wife says she saw the virga, a kind of fake rain or a rain that starts, and doesn't quite reach the ground. you see & hear all kinds of stuff, if you ask. now, i'm kinda curious.

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