Tuesday, September 10, 2013


fairly large texas city, a quarter mil or so, got some rain this summer and ragweed sprouted in yards all over the place. some people, i assume, are gone, because it's still summer, or whatever, but in any case they act like mowing is not something they ever even thought of, and it's a bumper crop. some yards, it's five, six feet high, blossoming all over the place. my eyes get a little swollen just looking at it.

they have three kinds of parking: normal, game day, and televised game day. televised game day, there's no parking anywhere, it's all reserved for espn, or whoever. presumably the whole kit & caboodle will be in town. 'nonessential' staff are supposed to just leave, so as to free up the space.

there's a colony of feral cats on campus. finally i read the letter of the leader of the people who feed them, support them, keep them going. they corner them, capture them, give them shots, neuter them, and then return them. they figure, if they are stable, and like the place, they'll keep the other feral ones out of there by protecting the territory. the city's feral cats then, have to just get by in the city. where, of course, the foxes will get them. i assume the foxes wander up on campus too. i'm not sure how it works; i'm not even sure foxes eat feral cats. i know you see them dead every once in a while. sometimes they get hit by cars.

so i'm way allergic to ragweed, and felt it this year, more than ever. generally i try to get a lot of exercise and keep the stress down; i don't generally take drugs to deal with it. but i have this psychological problem about it. i detest the stuff and don't like my body's unrealistic tendency to go to war against it. taking out the garbage, i noticed that there was ragweed, five feet high, in my own alley. in a rage i quickly took the axe out there and hacked away at it until it was down. i figured if i was quick enough i'd keep the sap off my hands or whatever & i'd live to tell the tale.

i was lucky; i almost got it. took a shower right away and then another one soon after. it's like a war zone out there. there's ragweed almost everywhere. blowing in the wind.

i walk to school in the intense heat, across this one ten-lane road where the walk sign is on just barely enough for me to get across it. on the other side, you have the campus, and these feral cats. on my side, we have our house, traffic, more feral cats, foxes, you name it. on the street itself ten lanes of cars, five on each side, wait restlessly while this old goat gets across the street. the sun beats down like crazy. the walk sign ticks and counts down, 10, 9, 8. fall is coming. that of course means football.

church i go to has a labyrinth, it's out there at 48th and salem, in a wild texish neighborhood with wide sunny streets and plenty of room, but still in the middle of the city, kind of lower middle class. the labyrinth itself is very pretty, a peaceful spot, i'll bring pictures, i sit there quietly and remember my friends back in illinois. heck of it is, we had a labyrinth there, and we'd often just sit there while the children ran around. children would start on the outside, and the good thing was, it would always lead them to the center, they almost never failed. but i'd wonder, is this teaching them anything? are they getting in touch with a deep celtic sense of getting to the center of things? more likely, they'd just flail around, it was a place to be for a while, a place for parents to watch them, then they'd run off to this little waterfall or some other place. there was a train track nearby, that's what you really had to watch, an illinois central would come by, anything could happen.

here in lubbock, no such train, or even waterfall. the labyrinth is quiet, as if i'm the only one who even knows it's there. but it's ok in this sense: i'm a quaker, and this is a church. the service is not something i come for. if my kid's happy, i'm happy, if he has a crowd, and other kids, boys and girls, his age, doing stuff, running around, and if this happens, i have a moment of silence, but rarely do i get into the service anyway, and even when i do, it's not especially what i wanted. i wanted the silence, but out by the labyrinth, i have that same dilemma. does it go anywhere? does it have a purpose? do i get a deep sense of celtic peace and inner resolution here?

back up by the university, i've ripped up all the ragweed. i'm lucky i can even see. my eyes are swollen. two showers later, i'm ok, i can sleep, i even wake up the next day, not in too much pain. life goes on. traffic is heavy on flint. a cat crosses every once in a while, in the shadows. a neighbor cat has seemed to survive the whole thing, for at least a year, she crosses when she wants. she seems to know from sunday morning. they don't get much rain here, but the sun beats down and pierces, even in the fall, cuts like a knife. i realize, even when i'm on a busy street, i feel that ragweed. it's pollinating, busting out all over town. i water our new tree, the garden the sunflowers. the squash are turning into gourds. the peppers are coming out a little. sunflowers are drooping and going to seed. most of the water goes to waste. you water at night, it evaporates anyway. it's a strange new environment. snakes, foxes, random cats wandering around. fortunately there aren't many deer, back in illinois you couldn't grow a tomato. here, the weeds press on ya. and they move in, take over on every dumb piece of scraggly red clay no-count "yard" in the city.


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