June 14th, 2003

caillebotte_man at his window

Last Spring Moon

The last full moon of spring (and the closest to the summer solstice) is a big orange ball peeking through the trees in the west. So low in the sky this time of year that it barely clears the treetops all night, the June moon always seems a bit remote, rather like a person lost in some fantasy. This year, it had the slightly hazy sky almost to itself. No discernable clouds caught its light and few stars could compete with its brightness. There was only that soft glow filling the jasmine-scented night, and the occasional hoot of an owl. Now, the approaching dawn reveals the lawn strewn with rose petals, and the morning birds begin to chirp. The Full moon blithely slips below the horizon, self absorbed to the last.
caillebotte_man at his window


This afternoon, I had occasion to go to the other side of town. On the way, we passed by a big fundamentalist church. They had stuck a row of American flags all along the front of their property -- about 400 feet. They were on staffs about eight feet high stuck into the ground about every ten feet. I thought it was just some sort of event at the church, but when we were nearing the other side of town, all along the cross street on which we were traveling there were more flags arrayed in the same way, but with the staffs stuck into little holes which had been drilled into the sidewalk right next to the curb. They extended for about a quarter of a mile.

Once we reached the main north-south street of the west side of town, we saw that it, too, was lined with flags. I don't know how far to the south they ran, but the business district in that direction continues for more than a mile. To the north, the flags continued for about that far, up to where the road narrows to two lanes. Again, the staffs were stuck into holes that had been drilled into the sidewalk just inside the curb. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and because there is no on-street parking, and the sidewalks are only about a flag's length wide, the flags on one side of the street were blowing out into passing traffic while those on the other side were blowing across the sidewalk at about face height. The few pedestrians on that side of the street were either walking in the adjoining parking lots or strips of landscaping or bare dirt, or, where that route was blocked, were walking in the street and dodging passing traffic in order to avoid being slapped in the face with Old Glory. It was highly symbolic, though not, I think, in the way the flag planters intended.

I have no idea who those flag planters are. Since the only place I saw on this side of town that sported the flag display was that one church, I think it might have something to do with them, but I can't be sure. Once again, something is going on in town that I know nothing about. I really ought to start reading that (incredibly crappy) local newspaper. Anyway, I estimate that there must be more than two thousand flags on display along the streets. Maybe somebody is trying to get the town into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest flag display. It looks as though the staffs might easily be plucked from the little curbside orifices into which they have been inserted, so this is a golden opportunity for patriotic thieves. A couple of guys in a truck could probably collect the whole lot of them in less than an hour. I wonder how much a couple thousand flags on metal staffs would cost? I hope the town didn't spend the pothole-filling money on them.

I'm also wondering how long they intend to leave them up. It's still a long way until the Fourth of July, which is when one might expect to see such a display. In the meantime, I can imagine any number of the local senile delinquents, distracted by the roadside billows of red white and blue, being sufficiently distracted to drive their oversized motor homes off the road, mowing down a few dozen of the staffs and coming to rest against some pine trees, or inside Burger King, draped in impromptu shreds of bunting. Ah, the joys of small town life.