MAY 18, 2014

A QUIET SPRING NIGHT

 

So anyway, a big wind has been causing week-long trofs of weather in a rollercoaster of fluctuations from triple digit heat waves to the sort of chilly stuff about which Mark Twain had complained. It is pretty disconcerting and with the unearthly breezes blowing warm Maeve stood out in front of Jacqueline's salon taking a break in the area reserved for those die-hard smokers, joined by Frederika.

"It's earthquake weather, sure enough," said Maeve.

"Ya sure," said Frederika, who hailed originally from Bismark, N.D.

The Island has one of the strictest anti-smoking ordinances around, so that there are few places one can light up anymore, save for your car and a bare handful of posted areas, well fenced off and close in proximity to the dog pooping fields at the park. The Ordinance is as strict as any Catholic list of prohibitions, and just like the religious dogma, is liberally ignored or attended, depending the convenience, the mood, or the hour with the only major difference in that no smoker has ever been allowed to get off scot free with a string of Hail Mary's.

Now that the weather has improved without at least the threat of death by lightening or pneumonia, the smokers no longer huddle under found roof shelters and plastic tarps or underneath picnic tables in designated areas.

This is the time of fruitions, of long-banked embers bursting forth, of leafy buds and graduations. All the seniors, knowing the end of their incarceration is nigh, slump with insouciance these final days, foot dragging to the brink of Life and change. On Park Street, our three block downtown, all the moppet dogs trundle on leashes past the sausage dogs and the baby pit bulls, guiding their owners with free abandon, pausing for quick, sociable butt sniffing.

Woof! Sniff! Hello sniff! Sniff, sniff! Huff! Pant, pant. Butt sniff! whatsthat? Sniff, again. Wuff!

Yes, Spring has come to the Bay Area. All the tables at Pauls Produce heaped with mounds of oranges, grapes, melons, cassavas, mangoes, squash as green as rainforest, and in the bright sunlight shining fiercely tangerine the glowing fiery habanero.

Tommy and Toby have washed off the decks and trimmed the sails of the Lavender Surprise to take her out for weekend jaunts on the Bay with friends who otherwise would not be able to enjoy such excursions. Not everything is harsh and deplorable on the Island and not everyone who has money misuses their resources to afflict their fellow man. Tacking around Angel Island on a 20 degree list before a hard wind they pass the ponderous bulk of Mr. Howitzer's yacht, the Milton Friedman.

It being a fine day and the season well underway just after a full moon with its tides and also a time to reflect upon subtleties of the Albigensian Heresy, Father Danyluk took to the estuary with his creel and his pole. He thought of all the secular entertainments, fishing remained among the best, for this activity remained close to the work of sustenance for body and soul. It was not lost on him that the Big Man had looked with favor upon men who made their living from the sea, and had been a bit of a sailor himself. As a result he took a great deal of delight in the saltwater tackle, the bright spoonlures and bloodworms. Because these things of the world had been blessed by being used in an holy occupation, they helped feed the body and he, Father Danyluk, inhaled the salt air with zest thinking good, pure thoughts on account of it, they were good and so not all of matter was evil and the body was not evil and so there you Manicheans.

I say, Father Danyluk said to himself as he threw out the first cast, this is going to make a jolly good sermon. . . .

Pastor Nyquist preferred the simplicity of the dry fly and the casting pole, the quiet plash of creeks meandering under overhangs of bough and bank. He was one who loved the dark mysteries of eddies and cutouts where the brookie and the fat browns like to congregate. Indeed while out breathing the good fresh air, he needed no church, no pulpit, no accouterments that became distractions, occupations in themselves. The architraves made by oak and willow were cathedral enough for him and he was satisfied in the moment to preach to the finches who heeded him and his words as well as any congregation he ever drove to tears with tendentiousness.

He looked up and closed his eyes beneath the caress of warm sun on his face, his eyelids glowing, with not even words now between him and some other divine presence.

Something tugged his line and he came back to the world . . ..

Down Snoffish Valley Road the teens leaned against their cars drinking Fat Tire and Anchor Steam. The girls sat on the hoods still warm from drag racing that long straightway. All poised in these eroding weeks on the edge of Life itself, when after graduation the world will open up suddenly like a skiff popping out of the mouth of a river to the vast fecund delta burgeoning with wildlife and color and the rush of the ocean of possibilities. Sharon is going to Mills while Matt is going to Stanford. Jake is going to work for his dad and maybe take over the business someday and Jason is taking the summer to travel to Asia. Sally, his vanishing girlfriend begins to look even now translucent as this Spring day fades, for she has got accepted at the Sorbonne and so off to Europe she will go, and they may never see one another ever again.

The bittersweet Shadenfreude of beginnings and endings and youth and Spring with its promises and disappointments.

As the day pulls back, ebbs with rivulets of color and light to the spectacular horizon of golds and blues and the fog bank rolling over the hills of distant Babylon City with its rusty Golden Gate, the regulars collect in the eddy of the Old Same Place Bar to listen to Denby playing songs by Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Blake.

I got them hesitating stockings,
Got them hesitating shoes
Now I got me a hesitating woman
Making me sing them hesitating blues
Tell me how long do I have to wait
Do I get it now honey?
How long must I hesitate?

Suzie serves up the highballs, the shots, the mixers, while Dawn handles the tap and Padraic mumbles about the kitchen, slings the ice, hauls and hooks up the canisters. It is a good night and he does not have to grab some unruly drunk by the scruff of the neck to toss him out. Everything burbles along with a quiet hum of chatter and clatter of dishware. No sirens tear up the night on this Spring evening.

In the Offices, the Editor swings his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and takes a hit, causing the end to glow cherry-red in the dim light of the remaining desklamps. All the staff gone home, leaving himself alone with the machines purring. Spring was the most Dangerous Season, but this time it looked like bad romance would pass him by, thank god. He poured himself a couple fingers of scotch and walked out to the back to look at the moon, just beginning to wane after a full Wednesday night. In the dark small creatures scuttled through the grass near the woodpile. From the street beyond, the occasional car shushed down the way. Not a single siren wavered across the sleeping rooftops. It was a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot or stabbed.


 

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