Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An Afternoon's Walk

“All of us run out of time. But for those who have who have a legacy of doing what we do best, time becomes the muse.” unknown author
I marvel at the metaphor that can crawl up the pant leg of Life.
Here’s one. A Burmese python.
The one I saw last weekend was sixteen feet long. Magnificent, timeless beauty. A global symbol of knowledge and wisdom gained, of creativity and change.
I'd just come from a visit to Barnes and Noble.
At the corner I was attracted by an old for sale sign. Caldwell Banking hung from a large metal pipe. A house I’d passed a couple of times this year, caught my interest. In this economic climate? In one of California’s counties, worst hit by the rampant housing foreclosure nightmare. I know.
However, this little house had whistled at me as I was pushing my grocery cart by. It has obviously been unoccupied for at least ten years. I was curious.
It used to sit out on the edge of the irrigated oasis, now surrounded by the blossoming strip mall tenderloin district. I remember the last time I noticed the place thirty-five years ago, when I lived here as a kid. Then it was surrounded by fields, with farm equipment and family life, around and with in it. I could still see the oak and hawks circling, silhouetted in the dust inspired, fiery sunsets. It used to have a creek nearby. It probably still gets wet, from time to time, in the present ditch lined by security fencing and razor wire.
I stepped up to the green wooden frame screened door being held closed by a box from the Children’s Hunger Fund. Probably dropped there during Christmas for the non occupants of this sad hungry looking little house. A reference to Psalm 145 /13-16 was tacked to the box. I thought I’d check that out later.
The little house was completely in tact. No broken windows or vandalism visible, stunning considering the dodgy flavor of the surrounding neighborhood. I rolled my cart up and peeked in through the rusty screens of the green trimmed windows, and I wrote down the Realtors number. I just wanted to get inside.
I could make out that all of the original 1930's fixtures were in place, electric candle shaped sconces, glass built in hutches. The floral wallpaper was browned and peeling from years of the 116 degree summer weather.
Tongue and groove wooden siding, old school carpentry, fits of 0.32 to an inch, spoke to craftsmen with hand saws and knowledge. The skill and pride taken in their work still shone.
The cement foundation was still sound and square, also remarkable in this vast basin above the San Andres fault.
It appeared well preserved by the dry, arid climate and years of good care.
It also reeked of stories left for someone to discover.
Visions of a coffee house or community soup kitchen for drop-ins tickled my cockles. Maybe a resource information center for poet musicians, art students from the street and elsewhere.
It has a nice porch, front and back and a empty double-wide lot, perfect for a huge neighborhood vegetable garden; old people teaching kids who’ve never grown tomatoes or watered pumpkins. I sat for awhile and just let the imagination roll. It felt good. Number 801 Real Road. Has a nice ring to it.
The long walk back towards the park across the street from my mother’s Bungalow was most pleasant. I parked my cart with books, computer bag, and sweater next to the amphitheater where the young men practice SK8 boarding on Saturdays, across from the pick up basketball courts.
Not too many picnics, too cool yet I guess. There was the remains of a birthday party just breaking up.
The guys gave me the nod of approval to an eyebrow request to sit and act as audience. Everybody was strutting their stuff. Great jumps and noisy flips accompanied by the novice crashes, all so important (though not desired) to show you’re tough enough to take the impact. Young flesh, bones, joints and concrete, challenging gravity. My insides cringed, yet I recall that sort of thrill.
Soon every body split to go see “ A !!!HUGE, F--888--ING snake!!!”.
Everybody but the littler guys who were so focused they couldn’t be bothered. One of the fellas, who’d actually smiled at me, shrugged his shoulders when I asked him if there were any ‘women’ SK8’ers. That’s the same response I get wherever I go to watch. I told him, “I’da been there but for losing a cousin to a head injury on an old shoe skate-tacked-to-a- board misfire.” I could tell he was moderately impressed. Not by me but my casually delivered story. He said his dad skated like that.
The new kid who arrived with Ma and baby sister in tow, was maybe seven. Dressed high, in full Christmas camo, pants, jacket, still new and stiff. This one was sporting a helmet and was highly skilled. Junior jumps and turns ensued. This skater was also disciplined. This is an athletic art form, akin to dance, and though obviously still a beginner the newbie was not looking for an audience, just focused and practicing. When the curve of the amphitheater brought her close enough for me to make eye contact, I noticed the pink rhinestone earrings sparkling out from under her long ringlets, pulled back in a tail.
I watched long enough till the big guys came back and then it was time for me to go. As I moved across the park, my trail intersected with Steve the walking Python-mule/man, who was packing Jake the snake.
I love snakes. Always have. I was the kind of kid who tried to keep the baby garters in a cigar box tucked under my silky day of the week undies.
Jake was magnificent. His mule person, Steve, gave quite the informational spiel, warmed up from an hour as special guest at the birthday party. I learned volumes during those ten minutes. Holding Jake’s four inch diamond head, while allowing him to smell me with his tongue reminded me of being close to an elephants curious trunk.
He slowly descended off of Steve’s body, down onto the ground. As I crouched within arms reach, it was obvious Jake enjoyed my slow steady stroking of his magnificently patterned body. The feeling was mutual.
As Steve spoke on and a couple of other spectators stepped up, I noticed the little camoed SK8 queen had come close. She stood very, very quietly, hands held behind her back, breath caught, tree like. I encouraged her with my eyes to come closer which she slowly forced herself to do.
It took everything she had to reach out towards Jake’s slowly gliding body. The dry smooth warmth of his magnificently beauty so surprised her she began to smile, as I felt grateful tears trickle down my cheeks.

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