Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Bridge not unlike that of San Luis Rey

Except for the part about the bridge, and the San Luis Rey part, too if we're being honest.

I had an errand that necessitated I walk from the building where my office is located to another building, about halfway across the property, but up a steep hill. I have made this trip often in sixteen and a half years and habit is stronger than reading comprehension, sometimes. Even though I saw a sign telling me the cut-through I like to use was closed, I kept walking until I got to the rent-a-fence that blocked the concrete stairs that I normally take.

I chose to take a short-cut that, as is so often the case, proved to be a long cut though it was a nice day and the walk was pleasant enough, so I can't really complain. What was a little daunting was the elaborate metal stairs that had been constructed beyond the "lake" on the upper half of the property. I put quotes around "lake" because it's not really a lake at all; it's a man made puddle, with dirt and algae and plants that grow up through the water, but which has a concrete bottom (I haven't actually seen it, but I've been told by folks even older than I who claim it's been drained and they've seen it) but it has no fish of any kind (sorry JETMEC) so I call it the fake lake.

Anyway, near the (real) picnic area by the sand of the fake lake--which is very nice, btw; there are barbecue pits and grills and lots of benches and tables under the pavilion, there was a bug zapper, still plugged in. I am not a bug sympathizer by any means, but it's 1245 on a summer's day, no one is using the beach, the fake lake or the picnic area. I'm the only person anywhere near any of this and someone is electrocuting bugs for no reason at all. I note this for the record just in case The Great Scorer is keeping track-I would like at least partial credit for a mitzvah in mentioning this and my unease at the unfairness and meanspiritedness of it all.

The metal stairs reminded me of Led Zeppelin and, surrendering to my own power of suggestion, I thought about one of their tunes while I hiked up those stairs. I couldn't help but admire the art and artifice of their construction--every alloyed component, from the steps through the handrails to the nights and bolts (some the size of my fist) reflected the brilliant mid-June daylight like a thousand suns and I wondered what it might have looked like to anyone from a distance watching me ascend the stairs. Then I flashed on Yossarian in the tree watching Snowden's funeral and how the Chaplain, graveside, had thought the argument Yossarian and Milo had had about wearing clothes was somehow Old Testament.

My knees aren't what they once were-as a matter of fact half of one of them isn't a knee at all, it's a replacement of some kind of super compound or substance developed originally for the space program (like Tang? I asked my surgeon hopefully, but not at all like Tang as it turns out) and I had to stop about a third of the way up the stairs and then a second time somewhat later. It was on the second wheeze and knees recovery stop that I saw a deer, technically a fawn (I think) below me, traversing the terrain silently unaware that I was there and uninterested in my silver staircase.

A minute later (the stairs are steep and recovery can take a moment) I saw a hawk through the trees fly overhead and then plunge at what seemed to be a hopeless angle towards the earth only to pull up at the last possible moment and fly away. As he did (I don't know why I think the hawk was he, and I don't know how people know these things), I could see in his talon what might have been a frog or a lizard now about to be lunch. What a pity the hawk didn't want bugs-I knew where the deep fryer and a large supply was waiting--perhaps Kermit or the Geico gecko might have lived to laugh another day.

I was standing in the middle of 'raw nature' but only about 45 seconds away from some 10,000 people in any direction I so chose, proving as Descartes suggested, defining infinite space is a dicey proposition and more mental than physical. I could have been in Grover's Corners though without Professor Willard who always seemed to see everything but notice nothing. We can't all be Emily Webb, I guess, and we all certainly can't return to a happy day, now can we?
-bill kenny

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