Thursday, November 05, 2015

i started crossing nineteenth on boston these days, instead of detroit, and there are several consequences. the basic difference is this: boston has a light, and it has a crosswalk, and it even has one of those buttons that you push when you want a "walk," and it talks to you and tells you when you can walk. when you can walk, you have twenty-five seconds or something like that to get across. people want to turn left there and are often impatient with pedestrians. you are in the crosswalk; you have the right-of-way.

on detroit, on the other hand, there's no light. you wait for openings in cars as they shoot by, twelve lanes of them, and fortunately, openings come on the westbound, around the same time openings come on the eastbound. you are technically jaywalking; there's no crosswalk, no light, no nothing. there is, however, a tiny island in the center. if you make it across the first six, you can rest before you shoot the last six.

time is flying these days; we went right past hallowe'en and into the high holy days of saints day, souls day, election day, you name it, the best weather in the year. cool blue-sky fresh-air days, color on the trees, in our own limited texas way, and there is plenty going on. i was invited to speak at the fourth-grade class, as a poet, read a doctor seuss-style poem and a little of my book, and the kids, wide-eyed, asked questions and went off on a spurt of writing it and producing it themselves. they were dressed up in costume that day; a couple of them were football players. one of the football players asked me if i'd won a contest; another kid asked me if there was a competition to write the longest poem. funny that they think it should be competitive, but i simply replied, actually i know the guy who wrote the world's longest poem, but it wasn't me, i don't even try. i told about the poem down the six-story building, the poem across the mississippi bridge, the actualists, life in iowa city. i was not a poet back then, i said, but i knew some of these guys, and have maintained friendships with them over the years.

hallowe'en itself was wild as one would expect who has three or four greedy kids around needing their chocolate and all excited by the general air of sugar-bath expectation provided by their friends at school. i can't imagine any parents saying to their kids, i don't care what your friends get you are NOT going out to get candy...every kid gets candy. it's the biggest day in the year. whether your costume is store-boughten, or home-made, bogus, good or bad, you get candy. that's how it's done.

fortunately our neighborhood is still hospitable to the candy idea. though about half the neighbors bail, and go to a hotel or to some faraway country ranch where they don't have to deal with it, the others dig in, decorate, turn lights on, and dutifully distribute to all the rowdy mobs who go up and down the street. we ran into lots of people we knew, out and rambling with the kids, as kids hauled in enough to make up for what we were giving away at home. at one house, a guy had set up his organ outside, with a large lit-up spider above him, and a web coming down above him. he had mastered some spooky hallowe'en music, and it was quite impressive. he wasn't above showing a little kid how to play the organ, either.

souls day was brilliant and clear, blue skies, fresh air, kids playing in the park. i believe it was the cusp of hallowe'en and saints day that they gave us the extra hour, saturday night to sunday morning, and we all took that extra hour and did different things with it, whether or not aware that it would be extracted from us in the spring. but, the cusp between saints day and souls day is what interests me the most. it's that idea that you go from honoring all the great people, the wonderful people, to honoring all the average ones, the ones who might or might not make it, who might go either way. this, to me, is the cusp one should celebrate, and sure enough, the weather was stunning, clear, beautiful. this time of year, you can't beat it, and that's true just about no matter where you are. november is the best.

there is plenty of show-your-color display out there. people are flying flags, marching bands are playing football games, people are driving around town showing off their true emotion. that's october; i think the trees bring it out. a stiff wind came through today, and hundreds of pecans dropped all over the neighborhood; i must have picked up about a dozen, just on my walk home. boston or detroit, it told my friend, doesn't matter, it's all the pecans. they're fresh. people leave them there, and don't seem to mind if you grab a half-dozen every time you walk by. i study the different kinds and i crack them as i walk; i've gained some weight on pecans only. they're fresh, and delicious, and once you learn how to peel as you walk, it's hard on your nails but gratifying at the same time. at the walk sign, crossing at boston, i sometimes keep peeling even with the eyes of the world upon me, i'll drop a few of the shells, accidentally or not, when they come flying out from my fingers. there are prickly pear cactus on the route too. i know just enough of the people so that i can almost for sure get both, pecans and prickly pear, if that's what i want to collect or cook. the prickly pear, you make jelly out of it. but you have to know how to do it. and, apparently, it takes special gloves just to get your hands on them.

chou

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