So it was that we did explore with the boys up and down through woods for miles until arriving at an abandoned shelter with stone-block kitchen fireplace whereupon owing to the sogginess of the previous evening a struggle did ensue to keep a wimpy little fire going. The reader will rightly imagine dry kindling is difficult to come by in temperate rain forest this time of year but as the boys’ pockets tend to contain unlimited supplies of gum wrappers, dubiously-constructed origami, papier mâché booger bundles and other paper-based lint we crowded into the small space of that hearth to warm our hands, bits of resinous material scrounged from the shelter added to flame piecemeal for incense, and the rest of the afternoon sniffed longingly at the black fragrance under our fingernails. The boys made me promise I won’t forget the marshmallows, next time.
We lunched on sandwiches and cookies while enjoying the occasional hissing swash of invisible cobbles in the winter-swollen, pea-green river (off-limits to the boys this day except for those quieter back channels). Adam happened upon a drowsy, not-in-a-particular-hurry Rough-skinned newt in the upturned roots of a storm-damaged fir and admonished me not to touch it (the newt, not the tree) lest I desire the most Shakespearian death. He doth exaggerate a little, sometimes. Oliver Fern and I shuddered for between us there’s common sense enough to give Adam the hard time but we weren’t interested in testing the toxicity of that dainty amphibian.
We found this fascinatingly fulsome bracket fungi while climbing in the forest above the river. What a beauty and not really even the outlier in these parts! It was a lovelier late autumn day than expected and I got so caught up in bejeweled spider webs, splashes of orange and mysteriously dark draws with slippery creeks that ultimately I would leave numerous photography opportunities on the proverbial on-the-way-back table and wouldn’t you know I got burned by afternoon drizzle on the return? When I was shooting with the Nikon Armored Tank I tended to operate everywhere from snowstorms to spattering cloudbursts nary a mildish concerned pause but I have but one lens for the itsy-bitsy Fuji and it came with this most insubstantial economical hood which qualifies as mostly un-useful except for trapping bugs for closer observation but at least there’s more time for taste-testing raindrops.
At any rate, we stayed alert for biggo falling limbs because you know around these parts November can be a dangerous time to walk in the forest. The floor in the woods was scattered with fresh debris like garland. The boys hopped, skipped and inhaled allotted caches of Halloween candy whilst staring up at the treetops. Novemberlanding at its finest! Later that evening amid the sonorous rumbling across Elliott Bay I marveled at the ferry just three quarters and a half emptyful, that’s a thing that also mighty tickles me about the black curtain.
Postscript: Now let’s see here, egg nog was just coming into season and another light bulb had exploded in the dining room. For the time being we were taking dinner and homework by candle, Kentucky log cabin style (calling to mind a young Abraham Lincoln). We would close those old fashioned pocket doors (not all the way because the panel on the left always slips off the track just before the doors meet) for eerie shadows and atmosphere (enhanced family talks). It was cozy but the novelty wore off by December. This broadcast from back in November was never really in danger of being relegated to the dustbin for that walk in the forest is surely deserving of a place in the archive. Better late than never.
Adam rode the train by himself tonight, for the first darn time. The intrepid journey into metropolis was to join his mother for a high falutin’ dinner to chat about important stuff (like who keeps stealing his lunch at school) and then “catch” a show at the Fifth Avenue Theatre. Oliver Fern and I walked with him into the Capitol Hill station and after waving his transit pass in front of the electronic card reader which emits a grating electronic blip that tells you to hurry already, he dismissively (quite unceremoniously, if I should say so) waved us off goodbye or something like it while commencing the descent atop the escalator which goes down very, very far into a mighty cavernous hole that was dug impressively deep (deeper than most, apparently). Down on the subterranean, windy platform waiting for just about forever into the future because the dadblasted train got broken down someplace else, he found himself confronted by half a dozen concerned, well-meaning bystanders (including the transit police) who couldn’t comprehend how in the world anyone under thirty years of age let alone an eleven year old could possibly venture into the city without a telephone surgically implanted to their head. The breathless recounting tonight about this Big Train Station To-Do unnerved me far more than him because you get lumpy-throated when it comes to your babies. The plan was fairly failure-safe with his mother on the platform just a couple stops down the line waiting to receive him and don’t accept candy or video games, kick the creep nice and hard in the acorns, gouge the eyeballs, scream as loudly as you can, most of all watch out for “nice” people but never mind. Sure I was wracked with parental guilt until the eagle landed but Adam was passing the threshold to Pluto, for Pete’s sake. And after all, Seattle’s no Thunderdome plus he’s well aware two out of every three grownups are useless, he can handle himself.
postscript: This is a sliced-and-diced excerpt from a December draft (still that doggone first week). I’ve been stuck. Everything I write has been sounding like prototypical pseudo-pretentious bloggy-woggy horseshit. Well, the usual problems with coherence are cropping up, too. Oh bother, I’ll get there! Winter break is over. Grandma left town by jet airplane back to the Windy City, yesterday. As you can imagine, this has the boys in more of a funk than homework. It’ll certainly be quieter around here. Much of my discretionary time continues to be occupied by the in-depth study of that wonder and mystery called the tides you see having had in my possession for some time a trio of fascinating books on the subject that were waiting to be dusted off and finally one day several weeks ago when the boys, grandmother and I explored about sunny Lincoln Park in faraway West Seattle for the occasion of observing the impressive king tides, it dawned upon me a rearranging of the queue was in order and so I’ve been happily transported lately to places like the Bay of Fundy, Mont Saint Michel, the Qiantang or weathered pages of my old tide tables for different points around the Whulge. A couple of the books had been languishing atop that little three drawer pullout I refashioned (utilizing my orbital saw, a sander thingy and another cutter thingy) from the arts-and-crafty desk the neighbors left sitting on the sidewalk last winter. It’s the conundrum of the generalist in that I’ve wanted to dive into them the worst way but needed the right window.
One of the small pleasures in life is smooshing down the crinkly pillows of air in mossed-up grass into mysterious crop circles on a frosty morning while waiting for the
big yellow school bus to appear like an apparition out of the big green of the Arboretum but as the stop is down in the valley where the sun barely don’t shine (by two o’clock in the afternoon those sunbeams promptly disappear someplace like the west slope of snooty Queen Anne Hill) Adam and I often resort to huddling like shivering, scared pups baffled by each other’s wispy dragon breathpuffs.
At lunchtime on my way home from the acquisition of the Darth Vadery solar panels which will be hung on a rusty hook next to the hummingbird feeder on the backyard lean-to in the event of a
not-too-unlikely catastrophic earthquake which will perhaps flatten our rickety old house (never mind less-appealing Plan B wherein everything’s relocated to the bottom of the liquefied hill) an over-height box truck had become tightly wedged beneath that cute stone footbridge on Lake Washington Boulevard which most visitors to Washington Park Arboretum will regard with so much casual admiration such little inkling do they have about the longstanding (1911) utility of the invisible aqueduct which if you must know is listed by the National Register of Historic Places quite possibly making it one of the most distinguished sewer pipes around. As you can imagine, neither the embarrassed, distressed driver of the box truck nor the annoyed police officer (directing one lane of traffic) had need of such information. Poop, poop, poop!
postscript: This was that quite cold, brilliant sunshine-filled week early in December the day after I fell on the stairs and you will see I wasn’t so awfully hurt as to not be walking around like a dadnabbed fool making crop circles. Regarding the Arboretum Sewer Trestle (the wondrously inelegant official name which nobody has ever heard of) let me tell you it was the third time I’ve witnessed decapitated automotive wreckage underneath that historic aqueduct. The first occasion featured a super-crumpled fifteen-foot moving truck while the second instance involved a frighteningly sheared-off tour bus. Now maybe these witnessings don’t exactly fall into the category of darnedest things but sort of they do, I believe. Speaking of which, I find myself
real tickled at the spelling of “darnedest”. The unexpected extra “e”, I love it. I had no idea.
Half-awake on Monday morning
it was that I plum missed a dark purple step, pitching several stairs down for earthfall to the unforgivingly wooden landing (not unlike a catapulted manatee, also referred to as the sea cow). Summoned downstairs because little brother was taking up lots of space with the infamous Underwear Cha-cha-chá (supposed to be brushing teeth, dressing hair, combing clothes and so on and so forth) and as such gingerly making my way by Braille, the big toe on the left foot misinterpreted the elongated crack which runs from the base of the fifth riser to the raised, coppery-smooth nail. Wrong nail. Remarkably, no bones were broken as I would self-arrest into classic Armadillidiidae. Cha-cha-chá. postscript: A week and nine days have passed since I wrote this. That’s endless news cycles, shutter actuations, inspirational moments and light years away. When you finish reading this I’ll have written something else.