The latest video from Joe King Carrasco. Google him and search at YouTube to learn more. The subject matter is obvious. Crank it up!
It was long, a kind of dark gray (“black”) speckled fabric, sleeveless, reaching to her ankles. She wore it often back in Maryland and afterwards, when she was teaching, too, I think, but it was long gone in our movings, cleanings, and impulsive weeding of possessions that were spoiled and no longer right. I remember her in it with her sandals and the pretty hat, the straw one with the wide brim and the yellow ribbon, the one she still wears on warm days, her signature, her love. Both the hat and dress had come from a little store in our old home town run by a friend of ours. Shopping was a matter of walking several blocks along treed streets and dropping in, like visiting a member of your family and leaving with a gift. The other day she declared out of the blue, “It’s important to remember who we are!” I heard this as a cry or prayer that stretched across the years—almost simultaneously she mentioned that she’d tried to find the dress again and failed.
That wasn’t a surprise. What was came the next morning, when she said that she had looked again and found it, finally, after all this time—a miracle!—and put it on to boot. The way we live means books and clothes can lie around in stacks, rolled up in drawers, covered from the dust or not, “why bother” in the twilight zone between depression and good sense. But there it was and so was she. The apparition shimmered, radiating hope. When that dress was a common sight, we had a home and money coming in like clockwork. I was just as lost as ever but it didn’t matter because we were safe and stable on our two and a half acres in the country, in a house we owned with all our things. She has a studio four miles away now. In the old days, I’d fall asleep in the cool air of the screen porch while she played piano just two rooms away.
It being Wednesday, I had business: “Would you like to ride in the truck to go buy lotto tickets?” My thing, usually a solo trip, but this time she said yes. I always take the truck because it sounds so good. She wore the black dress and her sandals and the big straw hat.
The air was wonderful the way it is here, cool and dry despite the brilliant sun at 7,000 feet. We rolled the windows down and rumbled slowly past the dogs and dead cars and the trailers, gravel crunching underneath the tires, to the pavement and the highway with the mini mart where I buy gas and gamble twice a week. I almost never play the radio in the Dodge, but now I did. A local hippie station in a trailer out behind a brew pub on the mesa hit me with the Beach Boys while her daddy took the T-Bird away, then followed up with Cream and something else I hadn’t heard for fifty years. I felt like we were on a date. The breeze rippled across the long black dress, the V-8 throbbed, the sunlight sparkled on the leaves and cars and buildings. I pulled to a stop at the red light by the Ranchos P.O. and didn’t mind, because I knew I’d get to push the pedal down again and hear the dual exhausts on green. The big thing, though, was what I felt at that exact moment, a time and space warp of “all right.” I felt okay, like I belonged right there, and it was summer and just fine. I haven’t been like that for decades and was high for hours afterwards.
She held my hand that night while we watched Maddow on my laptop, her skin so soft and warm it almost startled me. What came across was gratitude, and where the bloody hell has this poor bastard been?
The raccoon knocked the platform feeder down again. It doesn’t take much, just trying to climb the 2×6. He’s wrecked it so many times, I stopped trying to nail it back together and learned to prop it so a scrub jay wouldn’t crash it but a squirrel might. This has raccoon vibe all over. Three whole days ago it was—I haven’t touched it. Everything is dead here, boys, don’t light a match. Haven’t seen a bird for days.
Behold the crab skiff “Mollie,” gifted to me by a dear friend in Maryland sometime in the ’80s. The boat had belonged to her grandfather. A smooth circle worn into the planking showed where he’d always kept a basket for the crabs. I never painted it but did work some epoxy magic on bottom of the hull. This was the type of craft that always had a little water in it, enough to keep the boards all damp and swollen so they stayed mostly tight, giving it that tangy algae and fish parts smell some of you might recognize. (See here, too.)
The Chester River shown above is a wide tidal river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. I always loved being out on the river because it went somewhere, at least in theory. From that exact spot you could literally sail to Africa, for instance. The pull of possibility was always present in my mind.
I thought of this today because it’s Memorial Day. When we lived on Southeast Creek in Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the river was a quarter mile away by boat, and on Memorial Day we’d motor upstream to find a stretch of deserted sandy beach and have a picnic. (I may have taken that very photo on the holiday, in fact.) I had a long pole attached to the tiller on the outboard motor so I could sit or stand in the middle of the vessel, adjusting the trim with my weight to achieve the greatest “speed.” One could probably run faster, but the old Evinrude and Mollie did the job.
Those days are gone forever now. There’s no way to rent a seventy-five acre waterfront farm for $150 a month like we did then. We lived in a huge two-story house surrounded by enormous trees. The basement was the kind of place you never went. We heated the entire thing with one big wood stove in the kitchen. There were barns and tractor sheds back in the woods, all overgrown with vines. The sandy lane out to the country road was almost half a mile in length and kept life private, quiet, and amazing. We’d see deer, foxes, Canada geese, ducks, and herons all the time. I remember standing out in a cornfield one frozen night to look for Halley’s Comet. There was no internet at all.
I can’t believe we only get one shot at living like that. The interweaving of our lives with Nature, the ease of nearly everything that came when we were young.
Yeah, we got a little wet. It wasn’t bad. That line of virga with rain behind it snuck up on us faster than I expected, or maybe not. I do love a certain element of weather risk. Quite the glorious foreshortened hike, otherwise.