My oldest boy is a rather adventurous spirit so I was a little surprised this morning when he resolutely declined the opportunity to ride Metro to school, just a few straight-line miles down the road. He may have felt somewhat intimidated by the high schoolers who tend to cluster like ornery, dazed fowl (who wear too much cologne and perfume) at the adjacent stop in the morning. Nearby Garfield High is one of the big in-city schools, the alma mater of legendary record producer Quincy Jones. The Holy Names girls disembark by us and walk a block up the hill but the Bulldogs hop on for Garfield. Meanwhile, the junior high bus has been late this week because a substitute driver has taken over the route and he seems to struggle mightily with left and right turns but that’s better than last year when the school district brought drivers down from Alaska and had to first supply them with “urban driver training” which brings to mind this monochrome from exploring I did around my brother’s hometown one recent winter, when I rode the train for hours, variably back and forth from downtown not unlike the spokes of a bicycle wheel. No turns to worry about. I could never tire of riding the train in this one of America’s great cities but still I was reminded what a country mouse I am. Seattle is sort of the right size city for me. It could be just a little littler.
It was such a beautiful day, yesterday. After school, Oliver Fern was the human pendulum on the neighbors’ sidewalk swing (an improvised buoy which dangles from an overgrown small maple) for nearly an hour. He talked to himself, sang songs and made piles of leaves to bulldozer with each breezy pass while I sat on the porch and did my own daydreaming in the sunlight. Every so often he noticed me smiling at him and sheepishly waved back.
After a streak of sunshine to start November that had me feeling positively down in the dumps we enjoyed a gloomy weekend for the ages that has everything mostly all right except my sweet, rascally Oliver Fern has a case of pneumonia so that has me quite stressed and uncharacteristically seasonally depressed but he’s getting better so that’s some good news and I swear I’ll let him off the hook for the first devilish thing!
Meanwhile, this morning seemed like my last, best chance to get a halfway decent jack o’ lantern portrait and when the rain subsided I went out and got this frame. Oliver Fern carved the menacing small fellow to great affect I thought, while the heavy is the creation of his big brother.
This frame is from two years ago, my oldest is a lot taller now and getting lankier by the minute. As of last month, he has by far the longest hair in the family (finally took the plunge and cut all of mine off and it has not been entirely painless, such as when big sis told me now I look like someone from Radiohead). He wears a denim jacket and likes to tuck his blue jeans into his cowboy boots except for those days he has Physical Education, then he wears his smelly red sneakers. Every morning when the bus comes over the crest of the hill we hug and I say goodbye, I love you. I’ve spent a lot of time this week contemplating the fragility of life.
One of our neighbors keeps enough firewood to heat an entire village, I swear. He lives in a darling moss-covered, tiny gabled house fit for a gnome which is situated on a wooded, half block with a statuette of Michelangelo’s David, dwarfed by towering cedars. This calls to mind Grandpa reported last week he finally got enough wood to last the entire winter and then some, he gets it from the forest on the other side of the field. Fells and chops everything by himself. Hauls it back up with the four-wheeler, probably a million trips. When I was a boy he’d give me just enough time to swing the axe to make myself useful (and deadly) but mostly he split everything and I handed it to him through the basement window. He has always been a powerful man yet wields the axe so effortlessly it seems connected to supernatural guy-wires. Oliver Fern and I were walking home from piano last week, that’s when I captured this. Reminded me of home. Just Queen Anne’s lace and rusty barbed wire for the picket fence.