Friday, October 16, 2015

october fog

came down with a powerful cold, so i'm holed up at home - didn't go to work, went to a school meeting, but then, just came home and chilled. one son is sick too, so we're resting and trying to pull it together. last night a son said to me, anything can happen on october fifteenth, referring to the weather, actually, and i said, yes, it can and it does. i didn't tell him the whole backstory. a person would have to read this entire post to know that.

in the baseball world, the cubbies got into the american league championship, which stirred everyone up about the fact that in back to the future, they won the whole thing in 2015. of course there were many unbelievable things about 2015 in that movie, but such things as flying cars, spectacular neon signs, etc., have come to pass, pretty much. is it possible the cubbies will win it all? it is. i am staying aloof this year. the entire texas contingent, two team, were eliminated in one night. but i spent fifty years at least pretty much hating the texas teams for lack of anyone else to hate. now, i'm kind of warming up to them, because they are the local teams, and so many of my friends love them. and, like any teams, they have endearing qualities.

this time of year weather changes a lot - one day it's 90, the next it's 70, at least here in texas, while up north, say illinois or iowa, it may fluctuate 30 and 70. by halloween it's pretty distinctly fall no matter where you are, but that's when the baseball thing heats up, and by the high holy days, saints day / souls day / day of the dead / sadie hawkins day and the rest, it's downright nice out, even here in texas. one characteristic of this time of year is intense fogs; this happens when a sudden cool spell comes down upon a very warm and moist field of earth. the cool spell literally sucks up the moisture but it just sits there and looks creepy right at a time you don't expect it. this is the essence of hallowe'en, i think, though if you watched kids you'd think it's all about superheroes and candy.

i do a lot of walking these days, two miles a night, and i was doing it barefoot up until last night; i finally changed over to shoes. it was partly because i knew a cold spell was coming in. but it was also due to the fact that, late at night, when i get up to use the bathroom, my ankles and feet are so damaged that i can barely get across the room. and that's not a good position to be in, because i'm half asleep and feeling a little vulnerable. i hobble across the room and often, in the middle of the night, i vow to wear shoes the next chance i get. so i went out last night, and just wore them; it had gotten that bad. and i ran into a guy, another regular walker, who noticed and stopped to talk to me about it. the thing was, he was about my age, similar in many ways, i could tell as we stood there and talked. i could see lightning off in the east as the cold spell was literally rolling in. i told him about my travails crossing nineteenth street which have been on my mind lately, and about how much i love our particular park and the neighborhood.

the thing about nineteenth street is, when i lived on flint and twentieth, i saw many of the accidents there, and they had a regular supply up on nineteenth, for whatever reason. red and blue lights would fill the intersection and i could see it from our second-story window, or i would see them as i walked up there to cross the street at flint and nineteenth. that crossing scared the living daylights out of me, because people didn't see pedestrians in the crosswalk and often the sun was down so directly that, on a ten-lane road with nothing on either side of it, it was a wide expanse of blindness on the part of people who were driving too fast. so i'd have nightmares, and i resolved it a little by taking a lot of pictures and making pop art out of them. but when we moved, perhaps three blocks east, i had the opportunity to cross at detroit, and i took it. the thing is, at detroit, there is no light. a person runs across when there's an opening in traffic, and it can be called jaywalking, technically, although it's quite common. the good thing about it is, there's always an opening in traffic, especially when i go, and, when there's an opening on one side, there's an opening on the other at the same time. so i've found it overall much more comfortable, and it's alleviated my nightmares a bit.

but it has its downsides. one is that a wide variety of people don't approve of my crossing there, and even worry about me, as if it's more dangerous. i maintain that it's less dangerous. another is that if it's technically illegal, i could presumably get a ticket someday. i have not noticed anyone getting a ticket yet. and the last is that if my legs and ankles are indeed on the verge of collapse, it could happen when i'm not in a crosswalk. this would, in fact, be more dangerous, if only because people wouldn't be prepared to see me. the whole thing makes me more aware of the tenuous condition of my feet and ankles, not to mention knees.

so i'm standing at nineteenth yesterday morning, and tens and twenties of cars are shooting by, because i make it up to nineteenth just as the gap is disappearing. i always wait, i never push it or shoot out into the road between cars. just wait for the gap. but what do you do when you wait? i read the license plate prefixes. i was telling my friend about this the other day. the license plate prefixes are like reading stock market tickers on the bottom of the television - they may be useful to some people, but to most of us it's entirely gibberish with no possible use in reading. i maintain that if one were to read these prefixes well, one would know who is from lubbock and who is not, for example, as well as when someone licensed their car. i would admit that this is useless information, for the most part, but it's still information, and might be useful to some people. so i'm standing there, and i see my own car go by, and my wife's in it, and i would never have seen her if i hadn't read the prefixes. that's because i generally don't watch the people. they get spooked by it, so i give them a break. but i saw her - miracle as it was, and it was like, voila, small town.

so thirty five years ago yesterday, and this is why i consider october fifteenth a personal holiday, a thick fog settled on some cornfields out by bayertown road in the southern part of johnson county iowa, near the town of hills, which was poorly named because it didn't have hills. hills was on the river, and should have been riverside, and riverside was in the hills, and should have been called hills, but it was kind of like iceland and greenland, someone got it backward on the maps, and they were stuck with it from then on. so anyway this thick fog was all over this countryside, and the two-lane road didn't have lines on it, or a shoulder, nothing but a ditch going down deep. and i was a schoolbus driver, out of sleep because i had just bought a 1950 pickup but had to cross the state to do it, and was working nights as well as driving a school bus. you get the picture. the schoolbus flipped in the cornfield, and a couple of kids were hurt, but fortunately nobody was killed. they were rough-and-tumble farm kids, but a broken arm is a broken arm, and in one case, i think it was a broken leg. her driveway was about half a mile long, so her family had to drive her out to the bus stop from then on, in the cold, well into january. i felt terrible about the hell i put that family through, but they forgave me, for the most part, because they knew i hadn't intended it. the kids had been unusually quiet that day, and i realized that i'd come to rely on them to keep me awake and aware on mornings when i hadn't had much sleep, as that one was. but it just didn't happen that day. everyone thought it was kind of strange. to me it was a slap in the face. go get a different job, so the world isn't entrusting you with things you can't handle.

and i did.

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