It was the image out the windshield that framed my state of mind. A car-lined street. And trees up and down both sides. The first time in many months I looked out and saw trees that looked like winter. They all looked like winter. A clear November sky, and it was the trees that made the statement.
Time marches forward. We’re practically at the beginning of December, yet I still feel I’m wandering, lost in time somehow. How long has it been with this feeling? Months for sure. Like I need to wake up one morning soon and feel grounded. Is this an end-of-summer thing? It’s been going on since then. I don’t think it’s that, but it’s a longing for the cold. I find myself looking forward, in hope, to colder days. I long to be reassured, comforted, free of fear and worries. Don’t we all? And I expect winter to deliver that comfort and freedom? Maybe I should read my book, and hope for the best.
An evening out back, in the dark, to cover plants. Surrounded by whatever’s left of ragged plants that have given their all, and the smell of someone’s fireplace. We’re well into fall, and yet the morning glories have just started producing buds. I respect their determination, their persistence, and feel the obligation to do my part, which is to protect them from cold nights. I looked up from the task at hand, to the dark cover of tall trees, and listened, deliberately, to the quiet.
I listened for crickets, and heard none. None at all. No cricket-style ‘call and response’. Nothing. It could have been winter.
Yet, in the midst of this quiet, I hear the soft pitapat of dried leaves rustling above me. A familiar rustling. A sound tucked away from the past, not from golden leaves and autumn nights, but from ancient trees and winter days. Days at the end of a long, bitter winter, when February winds blow through lofty limbs and the scattering of leaves still hanging on huge weathered pin oaks.
I turned to step back inside, and caught the creak of a single cricket. One lone, strong-willed cricket with something left to say, calling out from somebody else’s yard, somewhere in the distance.
A single tenacious cricket, and October’s wind rustling the leaves. Fall’s whimsy.
I want to get caught in the spirit of some idea or words and write something that feels like the ocean, like lightning in the distance, like something glorious. Like the lights that shimmer off ordinary plants after a rain.
Why are clouds so much more when they hover above the open sea? Something about the color of the ocean and the blue sky and summer cotton clouds, ahead, above, and all around. The sky and the ocean, similarly infinities.
Someone’s gazing at clouds from a spot on the shore, and I wish it was me. I can almost feel it now. And I wish it was me.
There should be a checklist. Fireflies. Fireworks. A spectacular storm that doesn’t bring down any trees. Coffee on a fresh morning after it’s rained. A walk on the beach. A walk in the woods. Staking tomatoes. Watering plants. Treading water and lazy laughs with friends. Snapdragons. Dragonflies. Bugs and muggy nights.
The confluence? July 23rd. An evening outside when there’s still more than a few fireflies, and already, crickets chirp, as if to announce a movement towards August. Surrounded by a blend of scents from the plants I love. It’s happened before, evenings like this, and I ponder which plants disperse that heavenly fragrance.
Inside, pink coneflower cuttings drop pollen on the countertop. As my cloth wipes away the yellow powder, I detect a floral scent. Not an overdone designer aroma. But the real-deal pollen floral scent.
Some golden bits of summer to store up, as if I’m capable, and hold for some lifeless November afternoon.
The air’s breathless, the space…motionless. Sun, pavement, and distant drums. Full-voiced percussion, like a jacked up truck, radio blasting. It’s a summer parade and the pressing crowd around me surrounds me. Would it look silly if I turn and run?
The drums. Yes…the drums. That joke about clowns? Okay, we get it. But who’s freaked out by drums?
They advance now…the drums…and the resonance closes in. Uneasiness ricochets about the hollow of my chest. Anomalous somatic energy, and a spastic, weirdly thready, response. Distressing spectrotemporal interdiction, riveting normal precious regulated cardiac rhythms.
Dissonance. Internal physical dissonance.
The sun’s beating down, and the drums…they’ve only arrived. It’s not déjà vu. But it’s happened before.
No one else feels that? Apparently not.
A discernable commanding hum echoes discomfort within me. A tug of war. A battle of nerves. A competition as old as humans…fight and flight or rest and digest. Or just some acoustic oddity, in which the encompassing rhythms of those pounding drums drown out the life-sustaining silent pulse of my seemingly absent heartbeat. I’m standing. The system must be working, right? It’s a minute, scarcely a minute. Can’t I stand and breathe, hold fast and breathe, one short minute, or can’t I hold my breath, and wait, patient, wait for them to pass?
The sun’s beating down, the clamor of flashy color surrounds me, and columns of noise and noise and noise approach, now, right in front of me.
The distressing crescendo. The tipping point. And then.
Then, the dazzling procession moves along, and a restorative transition falls into place, as it should, in a quiet, effortless, intuitive pattern.
Like the waning end of a thundering storm, the metrics of summer, a day in the sun, and the vanishing hum of distant drums.
Da da dum da dum da dum. Da da dum.
This is an odd piece I drafted a few years ago. I pull it out from time to time and play at it. It sounds fictional, but it describes a physical reaction I’ve experienced, yes, to drums.
It would be remiss to remember his words without remembering his image. Pearl buttons, ruffled collar, and head-to-toe fair weather clouds. An impish grin, big brown eyes, and a medley of style and spirit, working like a magnet to draw you in.
One, Two, One, two, three, four. Yeah. Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing But different than the day before. That’s when I saw her, ooh, I saw her. She walked in through the out door, out door. She wore a raspberry beret. The kind you find at a second hand store.
A video popped up for me the other day. It was an event honoring George Harrison. Prince and Tom Petty were among many musicians performing George’s song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. What a great performance by Prince.
Prince…Tom Petty…George Harrison…John Prine…John Lennon…Janis Jopin…they weren’t all there, of course, but such great talents gone too soon.
Some of this is a re-post, more or less. You can’t help but remember Prince this time of year.
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Image and lyrics from Raspberry Beret by Prince & The Revolution (1985).
The pasty smell of drywall and paint…tell-tale leftovers from the morning’s work.
Sheer curtains scarcely move at the open window, not enough to call it a flutter. And the afternoon sun floats columns of dark and light about the architecture of the panes and the surface of a half-drawn shade. Plaids, squares, rectangles.
The air works a gentle song from the chimes outside. A soft musical chant. I hear children down the street, and a distant car engine. Repetitious drumming, the tap, tap, tap, of a small animal.
There’s covid and war and the contradiction of what should feel normal in spring. Reactions feel confused and hollow. Optimistic/pessimistic/oppressive. Unworthy of a sunny beginning-of-spring afternoon.