Archive for May, 2017

Cecil

Thirty to thirty five people at best.  Surprising.  The pastor seemed  salt of the earth. Lanky and bearded.  Lincoln.  He had ambled through the requisite prayers and then a quote from Walden.

And this next piece is one Cheryl come up with. It’s from Our Town:

We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

So now if anyone would like to speak.”

A four second pause. Kenneth stood in the front row and the pastor stepped away from the mike.

“”My dad was the toughest guy I ever knew. But anybody who was around our house could tell, from the number of cats, dogs, birds, mice, donkeys…well… that he liked animals. Even some humans. He had a list. Ones he didn’t like. And if you were on it you didn’t get off. He only called the doctor twice before he was seventy years old. First, when both he and Mom had the flu. The doctor came. House call. He got better, and I remember him saying “That would’ve killed a weaker man.”  Second time a cow had kicked him and broken a few ribs. House call. The doctor wrapped him up tight and he went out and milked. So I tried to think of a good story and this is what I came up with:

One morning in January when I was twelve we were making some extra money trapping muskrats. It was one of those cold, clear mornings, and I seem to remember it was ten below…could have been colder….but still and cold. The neighbor kid, Barry, and Dad and I, hiked across the swamp to the spring pond to set some traps. It was the only time Barry ever went with us, and, well, you’ll know why at the end of the story. We had two dogs with us – Smokey, a black spaniel mix of some sort, and Lady-bug, a worthless little beagle. But we loved her.

The pond had ice on it, but it was a spring pond so it wasn’t completely frozen over, and as soon as we got there the two dogs ran straight out onto the ice and fell through, in the middle of the pond.  I remember thinking “This is not good,” and I remember Barry and me running to the other side of the pond, where the open water was. The dogs were trapped, but they broke ice with every try to climb onto it, and the open water was closer than the shore they had departed from.

  We called and whistled and clapped to encourage the dogs to break through and swim to us, and at some point I looked back across to where Dad was and he was at the edge of the pond wearing nothing but his boxers. He had a club, which I guess maybe he had cut with his hatchet, and he was wading into the pond, toward the dogs, smashing the ice in front of him with the club. Luckily, I guess, the dogs broke through the ice and were able to swim to us boys, because by the time that happened Dad was about up to his armpits and still smashing the ice. Pretty close to swimming. By the time we got back to the other side he had his clothes back on. He was just putting his coat over his head when we got there, and all he said was  “Let’s go.”  I’m pretty sure that mile run across the swamp was the only thing that kept him from freezing to death.

So that’s it.””

Kenneth stepped away and the pastor took his place.

“Anyone else?”

Time Trial

“It’s a study in brinkmanship, really. One has to concentrate on a few things. Keeping the stroke round, keeping the cadence adequately high, relaxing into the straightest line. But holding oneself as close to the limit as possible, for an hour, without going over the limit, that’s the bigger challenge.”

“And there is always music in your head?”

“Always, and never pre-planned. Upbeat, obviously. But I’ve never pre-planned it, and I can’t really recall specifically what’s popped into my head in the past. The La’s probably. Maybe Zeppelin. Maybe I should pre-plan.”

“That would be unlike you.”

“I plan every other aspect of it. The psych prep. The bike prep. Not always well, but I’m not oblivious to planning. I pre-ride the courses.”

“Plan a soundtrack then. How do you think that will go?”

“You know me a bit too well at times.”

“I know how earworms work, and you’ve brought up your earworm issues many times.”

“I have no recollection of whether I’ve had a song in my head prior to blast off or whether they just come to me.”

“Well,  start paying attention to that in place of some other aspect of your psych prep.”

“I hear you. I still wonder how much closer I’d have come to Baker if I’d been more aware of gearing. I still remember feeling complacent, just for a moment, when we crossed after the turnaround. He hadn’t taken much out of me at that point. Maybe a little. And I thought about my fifty five, and I thought I had an advantage, even on my vintage bike.”

“Tell me again,” she said smiling.

“He had the new compact drive…well, new to me. So I knew he had no bigger than a 52 up front. Lots of gentle downslope after the turnaround. I never considered the rear end. Lack of prep. I rode it on the edge all the way home, but I still think I’d have gotten another half minute on him if I’d felt more desperate.”

“Or crashed trying.”

“Considering that I’d expected him to pass me, I was pleased at first that he hadn’t. Fifteen years younger, fit and a bit crazy? I’d suggested a four minute interval at the start, hoping to hold him off, but he wanted two. My ancient reputation?”

“Could be.”

“Crossed the line and started counting. One thousand seventy when he hit the line. Fifty seconds out of me. I went from happily un-passed to a bit disappointed, and fairly quickly.”

“And then you did the math.”

“Not for about a week, but I did it. With the fifty two up front and an eleven in the rear he had almost a one hundred twenty five inch gear. My fifty five thirteen left me with just under one twelve.”

“You know that now. You won’t forget.”

“Never should have thought about it on the course. It was a lapse.”

party favor

Remove the dark
from your night doings
fold it double
hand it over
just opacity
for me please
hold the light
out with the sound