Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Take My Life, Please

Just to be crystal: if this vegetarian coil shuffles into a vegetable, please pull the plug.

I find it ironic (am I using that word properly?) that those who believe most fervently in Paradise as an actual locale fight hardest to keep the brain dead and the unborn from entering. I know there is a fundamentalist argument on this issue so that true believers don't engage in wholesale slaughter so that innocents can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but why are they so afraid of letting the cycle of life spin into the unknown of death?

I may not feel this cool about it all when the Grim Reaper approaches, but I'm trying to prepare. (I know, I know, I raged, raged against the dying of the light when I turned 40, so I'll be hopeless when my time comes...)


Yes, because to everything turn, turn, turn: I love the field where Rex (and sometimes M) and I walk. It's hemmed by the county fairgrounds (horse racing, dog shows, fireworks displays from the back yard, and monster truck rallies, yeah!) and houses, which are now multiplying, but it expresses each season so beautifully.

Now, wet, sticky adobe is covered in tall grasses, chamomile daisies, punctuated by gopher holes that Rex regularly enlarges to no avail. Its main function is a parking lot for the carnies and fairgoers several weeks every year, so the grass is mowed several times in the late winter and early spring, but not before the daisies bloom like snowdrifts. Withering, the white petals droop like a bad dog's ears, then fall to bare a hard, bright yellow pate. Kicking through the dense half-spheres, gold dust seams my sneaker toes and makes an odd ripping sound.


Wild sweet peas scramble up the backs of wheat-headed foxtails. Other weeds grow so high I can hide from Rex, who runs frantically through the field til he finds me, snuffling up through the stalks nonchalantly as if he always knew where I crouched. (What would Nanny 911 think of the treatment of my dog-child?)

Last year, for some inexplicable reason, a small patch of weedy grass was left unmowed. As I walked through a corner, I felt a ghostly brush against my calf, and a small brown rabbit popped out to the lawn-like lane, down which Rex happened to be staring ten yards away, and the chase was on. Rex wouldn't listen to me, though I shouted and screamed for him to leave off and come as he and Rabbit raced around the tall grass and the mowed grass and finally under a cyclone fence into someone's yard. Rabbit, exhausted, stopped; Rex sidled up, sniffed his butt, stared off into space, and that was that.

After every fair, there's always one sad, tired trailer abandoned by a poor tweaker carnie, the modern American nomad. Rex is always the first in, but I worry about unknown leftovers. The sense of adventure it symbolizes degenerates from hovel glory into vandalized disrepair, and the heap is finally harvested by the county towing service to fertilize the junkyard.


While at the conference last week, I got to jawing with a Brit now living in Florence. We were talking about our fall conference in Amsterdam, and he mentioned how dirt cheap it is to fly within Europe--like, so cheap that it usually costs more to get to the airport from your house than the flight itself. I hadn't realized that, and it changed my whole thinking about my trip. It's our last conference of the year, so I'd be able to take a few vacation days after the conference without dropping the ball on an upcoming event, and so suddenly the entire continent was at my mental feet. Where should I go? I asked him. Barcelona? Portugal? Italy? Seville was his reply. Mom suggested Rome. Other suggestions?


At 6:18 AM, March 23, 2005, Blogger Nancy said...

"droop like a bad dog's ears" - nice! That made me smile this morning. Have you been to Paris? The Loire Valley? Zurich? That's all I know of Europe, but it's gorgeous. I'd love to go to Greece.

At 11:31 PM, March 23, 2005, Blogger Rebecca said...

What a descriptive voice you have. Beautiful writing!

I'd say anywhere in Europe is bound to be an adventure. Where have you always wanted to go? What's calling to you? If you're going to France and need a translator, or to Wales and need someone to pronounce llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch for you, I'm you're gal!

At 6:57 AM, March 24, 2005, Blogger suzanne said...

Thanks for the Euro suggestions! It'll be October when I'm there, so I'm currently favoring the more southern climes...but I have lots of time to dream. And to brush up on my so-called French and Spanish.

(And yes, Nancy, you guessed right about me in the pic!)


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