Monday, April 10, 2006

Some Spring, hopes eternal

Listening to: Radiohead, Kid A

Spring comes on in fits and starts here in the Rockies, Winter sputtering its way out with convulsive blasts like the lingering cough from a cold long gone. Roads were closed on Friday morning due to blizzard conditions and today it was in the 70s.

The honeylocust trees that lined my route east today were a-glow with a soft green haze, their leaf buds breaking free from winter cocoons. All around my house are hyacinths, daffodils, and pussy willows blooming brazenly, confident that the worst of our weather has past and it's fair weather from here on out. A silly assumption, in the mountains; a crocus bloom bent under the weight of wet April snow is the symbol of Springtime in Colorado that I'll carry to my grave.

It could be worse. Watching the news, I see portions of the midwest ravaged by tornadoes, the southwest smouldering after wind-swept wildfires, and parts of California mired in a deluvian mess. As I write (if you can call it that), the wind rattles the rafters and kicks the kid's toys around in the front yard but tomorrow, aside from the odd branch in the road, all will be as it was before this piddling cold front roared through. It's trite to whine about the caprice of Springtime in the Rockies while most of New Orleans still languishes in ruins.

Yet, something about spring makes me impetuous, conjuring up a part of me that is still entrenched in my childhood, a boy of 9 riding his bike after little league practice, the air rich with the scent of azaleas and freshly-mown grass and the sounds of children playing tag and hide-and-seek and kickball and avoiding a dinner-call ("Oh, Ma!"), a late afternoon sun still blazing hot when just a month before the streets would have been black and ice-patched and silent. I'd pedal slowly home - except when I could descend a steep hill at full speed to hear the wind scream through my teeth - savoring each moment without knowing it was a temporal blip, unaware I'd never experience being 9 again (because every 9-year old can't wait to be 10) but enthralled by world around me, in that moment, in its perfection. The journey was, in all its sensuous perfection, so much more important than the destination.

Not that the destination was unbearable. As I'd arrive home, parched, caked in a bodycast of sweat-soaked dust, the nectar from the gods awaited me, ready to be uncapped and slammed. In the garage was an ancient Frigidaire icebox, its top rounded at the corners, a relic from a time before I was born, unmodern and friendly, soft and almost artistic, not like the avocado-colored two-door Kenmore monstrosity in our kitchen with its automatic ice-maker (which barely worked, maybe two cubes per hour) and clear plastic vegetable drawers. Aside from milk and ice-cream, the Kenmore held little other than disgust for me.

The matron in the garage lovingly offered a wooden crate from her bottom shelf, stocked with slender, green Coca-Cola bottles. With our garage door still open, light pouring in and a spring breeze whisking out the must beneath the shelves, I'd pull one out and again, savoring the moment, watch the sweat drip down the ribs of the bottle before I'd put it to my lips and gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Breathe and belch and then gulp the rest, ample reward for being a smartass all day in school, working my ass off on the ballfield, and enjoying the life of a 9-year old on my bike ride home.

No wonder I don't think life is fair. In those days when I thought I had it all, I crapped out, rolled the dice and nothing's been the same since. Now I'm a cranky old man, Coca-Cola doesn't make bottled Coke (at least not REAL Coke in bottles), and, instead of wishing to go forwards, I want to go backwards.

Life is not fair, really. You yunguns' who've never experienced REAL Coca-Cola from a chilled bottle... damn shame, really. I'd toast you but... it's all scotch now.

9 comments:

Deb said...

And here I thought I was the only one wanting to be a kid again. Laying in the grass watching the clouds blow by, hiding under the wisteria vine listening to the bees buzz, running with the dog, picking blackberries off the vine on the way to the pond... Wasn't life grand back then?

Elisson said...

This is one of the finest pieces you've posted lately...it resonates with anyone who remembers being young.

And yes, there is nothing that compares with a Coca-Cola (or Dr Pepper, of which I have similar childhood memories) consumed ice-cold from a thick glass bottle. These days, you have to go overseas for the experience.

Anonymous said...

Oh my....
I have much to be grateful for when I read you but this is something else. This is good stuff. What a way to start this spring day.
Thanks.

trusty getto said...

Happy spring, Jim. You are right, nothing is quite so cooling than a Coke in a chlled bottle. Every once in a while I find them, but only once in a while.

landismom said...

Lovely post, Jim.

UsedtobeKeb said...

I only see coke in a bottle at christmas and it just isn't the same. I miss 8 packs. I miss a lot. Happy Spring J.

Mamacita said...

With your incredible power of enchantment you have transformed me, for just a moment in time, into the terror-on-wheels I used to be, whether those wheels be on my bike or my skates. I can feel the bark of the tree trunk scraping my legs. I can smell the honeysuckle. And I can hear the wonderful inimitable ker-thunk of the Coke bottle as it makes its descent from the top of the tall red machine to the bottom. Only you, dear. . . .

Melanie said...

I hear you... we can only go forward and do as you have done... hold those memories close and share them with those you can.

Trish said...

"A great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working"

Reading your composition is like listening to beautiful music. It can make me cry, dream, feel, live, fall, remember, die and be reborn to something more splendid. At your best, your can create a truly religious moment in me. You are... elegant.