driving, early evening, the days are stretching darker, yes, yes – this is the crest of autumn, leaves have fallen but there are so many trees still bursting ripe with them, of course there are the colors: the yellow, the purple, the orange, the red, and all the burnt versions in between putting on a last ditch flare before the penultimate fall and down evolution to brown (dust), but that is a couple weeks away yet, we have not yet reached the summit of the complete denuding of the arboreal population, driving at night – this is like a scene devised, laid out and mapped, planned, the leaves almost form a skirt from the curb out, a perfect and undisturbed line, exactly (or so) 4 feet, like extended orange-spotted fronds creeping onto the road separate from the curb form, my headlights reflect off the sheen left by the gentle misty rain that has drifted down from the parent fog, not a sparkle, or a shimmer of diamonds like the ocean waves @ sunset, more like individual sliver silver hands raised up on the curled tips of leaves waving ‘hey, look at me’, one last act of expression before life is drained into submission – the sleep, all this has the feel of an awake painting, and I am within the gallery, living, among the breathing-pulsing museum of the actual world, I round the familiar corners toward home, not as many decorations this year, the usual houses of course do not resist the urge, or perhaps the good intent, blow up spiders, skeletons bent, a makeshift foam graveyard, gossamer webbing swaying in the breeze like a demon child’s sinister swing, for a moment there is comfort in thought, the remembrance of halloween, youth, bouncing steps between houses, yes, this is definitely the plum of autumn, winter has not bared her full teeth set as of yet – but you know she is coming, the whispers in the slight chill let you know in passing, but this, one of those moments to savor, driving, the road lined like a pictured frame and I feel, at peace – in place – playing the part for which I was made, perfect borders remain for me to follow this familiar path, skipping street light to street light like hopscotch, let my senses embrace and marinate with the sights and sounds, one more turn and- I pull into my driveway, some of the magic seems already gone, lost… but… with care, I peel a large, intact, blood-red maple leaf off my side mirror, I hold the stem, and twirl it in my hand for a bit, to say goodbye – to a friend.
those trinkets that cause an instant memory jog or jump, instant time travel backwards to a specific happenstance or thought, these, are triggers.
here we are in the throes of summer, no, no, that doesn’t sound right, the grip of summer, no, neither, that isn’t quite it, does not convey the feel at all,
“here we are traversing the winding path through the baking jungle of summer”
(OK, I can live with that one).
summer rain. a trigger, in a couple of ways, let me explain if you will lend me your time.
the first- driving, driving home on the parkway, windows down (which in itself is part of the freedom of summer anyway), the pavement has been beaten flat with bombardment, rays of sunshine flagellating on the surface for all the day, the visual aspect of heat belly dances along the surface in the distance distorting the air itself, all the while this solar energy is soaking into the black sponge supporting all means of traffic, and then the break, a dark grey breach rolls in, like an instant the rain is unleashed but yet still with the sun not quite out of sight so the light bounces off the rain, showering the earth in a million rainbow shards, the mixture is almost confusing to the mind, rain and sun combined? how can this be, even today my jaded mind is always surprised by this, this I have seen one thousand times at least, then it hits me, this strange smell, intoxicating even if it should not be, there is this strange combination of asphalt, oil, dirt, grime and what not that is released into the atmosphere as the rain quenches audibly the scorched plains before me, almost like a garage but some how, dare I say, refreshing? I know, it may sound strange, but it is the instant trigger of summer road trip, maybe being stuck in a car for hours dulls the senses and this strange invasion of odor somehow seduces reason into being non reason, but that smell, somehow, invigorating, a sunny rain in the summer on a hot road.
the second– and I will stick with the theme, the little dots begin to overlap on the steps, faster now they overstep the next trying to outdo the first and last, until there is a thunderous downpour top to bottom straight down, the land has been wishing for this all day, green once wilted all around is starting to spring into shape and take a sip, no a gulp, no the rain is running in and out of their mouths of capacity overflow, finding new lakes and pools in the sidewalks bent, rolling in mini flash floods aside the curbs, the house gutters come alive like instant log flumes, there is so much rain in the air it commandeers the air itself, there is a smell to it, a presence of palpable odor, a musty mist of sorts, as if a drop has hit the hot earth and exploded into your direction like an aerosol bomb , over and again, the suspended rain is what fills your mouth and lungs now, you feel the bend and bough of the grass as the bath flashes over and relieves the yolk of the combined heat of the day, you can feel the oppression being washed away, I feel the same, you almost get used to the blanket of humidity, the heavy air on your shoulders, combined with a pharaoh of intense sun, there seems to no reprieve, sweat nearly keeps the beast at bay but in itself provides very little relief, but that rain, a cleansing time, off comes my hat to look skyward and let the drops wash the sweat from my face, is there ever a more clean feeling, than this? all time falls, I feel like a pure radiant soul in a waterfall…
Music needed for this post (listen and repeat):
this brings me back to days of my youth, my father had a “provisions” route back in the day, and when I was off from school I went to work with him, in essence a provision route worked thusly, my dad (with me in tow) would travel to the meat processing plants and supply warehouses in Elizabeth and Newark NJ, pick up the raw product (whole briskets, fresh chop meat, huge wheels of cheese, snack products, fries, deli salads, condiments, you name it), and then deliver them to local bars, taverns, restaurants, and yes, the occasional strip club (we’ll get to that detail), remember there was no Costco or Restaurant Depot, it was a good business from the turn of the century forward but of course it was phased out by progress like many things, my dad had this big yellow truck, it was like driving around with the mayor of every town, I swear he knew everybody, smiling and waving like we were in a parade as he drove, he knew all the cops, all the weird locals in all the bars, “Hey Freddie K!” was just this accepted mantra, what did I know, I was a kid, I wish I was more astute or paid more attention, the amount of inspiration for character study was astounding then, some of the experiences seem so strange now that I recall them to write in these words, the smell of bars as the sunlight first hits the witness wood floors, a sort of mix of barf, beer, mold and pine cleaner evaporating, you could see dust particles floating upwards in the light, questioning drunk eyes watching, walking into a strip club before they open as an eleven year old and my only want was a quarter to play the latest video game, I am not sure why but strip clubs and bars always had the latest/newest video game cabinets back in the day, we are talking early 80’s so video games were new, hell I remember Street Fighter coming out and freaking out over it (although I am admittedly a Mr. Do man), seeing the help (ahem, strippers) getting ready (into their outfits), pinching my cheeks as I was so darn cute, but I paid it no mind, it just was, I remember Cheeques in Linden had the best damn hamburgers ever, well, they should as my dad was delivering fresh chop meat direct from Magnolia Beef, where I would see things made, you know, meat parts literally being ground down in front of me, half dead whole animals on hooks being pushed around to the various processing stations, I still remember the cold smell of dead meat, the places were cold, really cold, my dad and the workers had these white coats, and then there was the sound of the hamburger patty machine, ka thunk ka thunk ka thunk ka thunk, and then paper slapped between the patties, then a case is made, rolled to the bottom and this crazy wire tie machine thing would seal the box with two ties, and then we would pack them in the truck for delivery that day, learning to use a hand truck was second nature, a wonder all these memories, someone might look at me now and see none of this, a poet, a writer, a philosopher, a nerd, who cut his teeth in the bowels of urban central new jersey’s blue collar belly, I wonder how it shaped me, or was I already there…. hum?!?
Lyrics to the song, poetry if you ask me…
“I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight
I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the June night
The roses are sighing a Moonlight Serenade
The stars are aglow and tonight how their light sets me dreaming
My love, do you know that your eyes are like stars brightly beaming?
I bring you and I sing you a moonlight serenade
Let us stray till break of day in love’s valley of dreams
Just you. Just you.