November 12th, 2004

caillebotte_man at his window


The cold front, passing, dissipates the clouds for icy night which bursts with stars. I watch them gleam until my ears grow numb, then go indoors to warm myself with spicy orange tea. Later, hearing the leaves dropping from the mulberry tree, I am enticed back out by the thought of a cold breeze making all that blaze of starlight twinkle. But the air is still. The leaves drop from the cold alone. No longer is the sky black and every star perfectly clear. Instead, there is a haze of thin fog which glows faintly red with reflected town lights. Fewer, and dimmer, and slightly blurred, the stars burn on, but the clarity is lost and the night made ordinary by its passing. Only then I saw a meteor, its brief burn making a streak of a few degrees. An event! Some bit of ice has ended its long sojourn in space and boiled away to join the atmosphere of earth. Its atoms will drift and settle, be caught by winds, subsumed in clouds, surrender utterly to gravity's demands, to fall and enter a new journey through plant and flesh, through cold blood and warm, through soil and rock and sea, to sky to earth again and again, through ages clocked by the turning globe which has plucked this fragment of some ancient object from the vastness where it wandered. Ah, I think; More water for tea! Then I go in.


One afternoon of sunshine, and the clouds return with evening. Maybe this time they will bring rain, instead of merely moisting for two days. At least the fence is now rebuilt, (along the one side of the yard where it was missing for a few weeks), the stray nephew having taken advantage of the break in the weather to nail up the boards. The cat will not be happy that the size of her easily-accessible yard has again been halved.

I think someone is finally moving in to the long-vacant house next door. A geezer arrived there this afternoon, carting boxes into the house from his pickup truck, while some obnoxious AM news station blared from the truck's radio. I'm guessing he's as deaf as a rock. The racket woke me up some two hours early. I am not pleased. I can tell that the guy was a punk kid in the 1950s, and probably scandalized his parents by listening to that rock'n'roll music, and affecting the attitude of James Dean or Marlon Brando, and he undoubtedly annoyed the neighbors by gunning the engine of his re-built 1938 Ford with the twin tail pipes at one o'clock in the morning. Him and his rowdy friends, and their Levis with the cuffs rolled up, and the packs of Camels stuck in their t-shirt sleeves, and their girlfriends in pedal-pushers and midi-blouses. If I ever decide to talk to him, maybe I'll ask him what it was like in Juvie. Of course, I'll have to watch out for his switchblade.

A few years ago, there was a time when at least four houses around mine were vacant for months. I liked that. I would like to see most of the houses in the neighborhood vacant, slowly falling into disrepair, the deer browsing the overgrown yards. I've always liked the melancholy atmosphere of abandoned buildings in declining neighborhoods. This place would be much more interesting as a ghost town than it is as a dull bit of displaced suburbia. And I wouldn't have to hear anybody's crappy AM radio.