Monday, October 03, 2005

night walk

The dog and I walked late today, the sun already down. The moon is not out now -- it will make an appearance tomorrow, a slight crescent, a sliver, reflecting enough light to cause Ramadan, the Moslem month of fasting, to begin, according to this story in today's Indianapolis Star. At least in North America.

So we walked. He is a small black dog, and in the dark, it often looks like I am walking with a leash held out into the nothingness, a solitary individual mimicking a dog walker. But even on a night like this I can hear the tinkle of his tags, its clinking sounding whenever he moves. I keep an eye out for the light of a car or truck, or a bicyclist, but tonight we are left to walk around the townlet without sharing the road.

For two weeks, the townlet has struggled to get our small ribbon of a road, one and a half car lengths wide, sealed. Long ago assimilated into the merger of the City of Indianapolis and Marion County, our townlet retained an elected town council responsible for our street lights and our roads. Each year, an allotted amount of tax revenue is given to the townlet for these purposes.

Planning the road sealing, the council communicated with each household by placing detailed notes and a map in our mailboxes, outlining each section of the loop through our half of the town. Resting on our trash day, the other weekdays were reserved for specific sections to be sealed, requiring residents in those sections to be out by 9:00 am, providing areas within our small area -- the tree lined esplanade on one end, near another neighbor's long driveway at another -- where one can park the car in the evening while the sealant dries. By six a.m. the next day, one could resume driving over the newly painted section.

But we got lots of rain, messing up the schedule. And then on the trash day, our privatized one man trash truck driver/collector did his manic stop and start through the townlet. Unfortunately, the air brakes on his truck were not property aligned, and so we have several streaks where he slammed on his brakes, bringing up the new sealant before its more protective second coat had been placed down on the road.

I must admit that I've admired the crazy edge of our trashman. There used to be two people, but over a year now there has only been one. Is it some inner demon that tears at him to act so manic, often leaving quite a trail of trash in his wake as he tosses our plastic cans down on our driveways, and the lids hither and yon in different parts of the yard? I assume it is a corporate time management rule, like the kind that tell deliverymen for the big companies that each transaction should be completed within so many minutes or seconds. Maybe he gets a bonus, I speculate.

My Republican neighbor complains about the trash man -- we all do, actually. My complaints are related to a trash lid breaking a plant limb, or worse, a lid tossed into a ditch in wintertime that is filled knee deep in snow. As my neighbor complains, I think about our former Republican mayor who practically invented privatization. I say nothing.

This relates to our walk because our street loop is now a dark, dark black color, and with the lack of moonlight, I find myself more than ever walking as if my eyes were closed. The dog and I have done this walk so many times that I forget how aware I am of his every move. I think I could do it blindfolded. We walk.

Try, I tell myself, to just listen. As we walk, I hear the sounds of cicadas and crickets and other night bugs. The high noise of summer has tempered some, but what bugs are left continue their night communication, a mixture of raspy, froggy other worldliness. This was the sound folk my age used to identify more with summer. But sealed away in our air conditioned homes, we have long ago quit listening to this sound. To sit in a screen porch, in the dark, hearing these kinds of night noises, folk eventually quit talking and just listened. And then they went to bed. At least they did in my youth.

Tonight, I try not to relive the day, and just listen as we walk, the two of us, amid the light from our quaint street lights -- there is no urban orange glare over the nightscape, but rather small pools of white light dotting the mostly dark street. My neighbors are in various stages of light, or at least their houses are. Some have fancy lights shining up into the incredibly tall trees. Others have every light on in the house. But many are mostly dark. Even in the lighted windows, one does not see people. These observations, by the way, come as we walk on the road.

Used to, one saw the blue gray glow of television sets in the living rooms reflecting out of front windows, but our television watching is now in color, and often in more private parts of our houses. Television is not much of a living room furniture piece anymore.

We walk, and the dog is attentive. He scared a rabbit out of our yard as we began walking. There is a slight scent of tar still in the air from the road sealing. Away from the townlet, one hears the freeway, its cars droning on as folk move to somewhere else, oblivious to this neighborhood, or the bugs who are singing their hearts out (through leg action mostly). A few times in the sky, there are airplanes -- the smaller ones are much closer to the earth, and the larger jets are much higher and faster. The former is at least aware of the dark earth outlined by street lights and car lights and porch lights. The latter is in a hurry, the final moments before landing at the airport, or just crossing this midwestern crossroads to other destinations.


RiverStone said...

Wow... if I ever doubted why I read your blog, you just reminded me. Thank you for a beautiful picture.

Shelley said...

Yes Don, thank you.

Don said...

Gosh, thanks to both of you. I haven't had much time to blog lately, and frankly, rifs like this don't read so well (to me), but I try to leave a record of our lives -- at least mine -- in this time and place.

Hugh said...

It very much reminds me of the text of Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915", by James Agee. "It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently. . . "


lemming said...

Very beautiful, Don - and all so very true.