Essay: I was thinking (some say I oughtn’t)

This past ten days was essentially a good week, plus three days. I am healed from the previous week when I had to deal with some of Texas’ smaller critters. I’ve written about them before, but I know more now.

Picture an orchestra or big band about to play. The conductor taps a stand a few times to get everyone’s attention and raises her or his arms and the musicians get ready. The audience quiets (or should) and everyone prepares for the first blast of music when virtually every musician simultaneously begins to play. Got it? I love it when they do it like that.

Tap, tap, tap…and

Now picture me stepping into my back yard to move some things out of the way. I knew there was a fire ant den over yonder. So, I didn’t go there. I did this, that, and the other thing. I then walked up the stairs to my porch and over to the door into the house. I did not hear the conductor do the tap, tap, tap with the baton.

When fire ants sting (and they do, like fire, thus the name) they play you like an orchestra. These little beasts run out of the den/nest/hiding place and climb onto your body, shoes, up your legs and arrange themselves just lickety-split. Tap, tap, tap, arms raised, then BLAM! Everyone of those little mother-fuckers stings in unison. That’s how it works. It hurts. I had reminders on my legs and ankles for days. Apparently, they release some sort of hormone, so they all get the ‘ready-aim-fire’ call in unison.

Fire ant stings about same as mine.

Last night I lay in bed thinking. Have you ever been to a place where some ass-hole or group of pains-in-the-ass people annoyed the hell out of you? The theater, a restaurant, some sporting event? There are lots of fire ants. Could we harvest a few hundred and put them in a little squeeze bottle thingy? Then, when we no longer can tolerate those people, spray about 20 of our little pissed-off fire ants into some strategic area of the offender’s person: hair, neck, feet, crotch…ideas? We’d get to play conductor. Stand, tap, tap, tap, raise our arms in the air. Let the music and dancing begin.

We’ve had a lot of rain for weeks in this part of (drought or flood) Texas. But it did not rain Thursday of that week. That was when I decided it was time to get back on the rough trails for my walk. I knew the grass was about knee-high tall everywhere they don’t mow. I did not realize how much grass grows on the trails! Since it has been so wet, fewer people have been walking the grass down and they have not mowed out there. I wore long pants tight at the ankle, socks, and a long sleeved shirt.

Chigger bites. I didn’t have so many.

I showered afterwards, but I woke up Friday morning with a dozen chigger bites. I used to think chiggers burrowed into your skin and stayed there. They bite, move, and bite again. Literally they eat skin (me). But they soften you up for dinner with a chemical that causes irritation and itching and lasts about a week.

I have DEET bug spray, and I know how to keep them off, but I didn’t use it. It was a cold, wet morning. I was fresh raw meat strolling through high grass looking for snakes or whatever critters might be hiding in there (ya can’t see chiggers). The hungry bugs were glad to see me. I transported chiggers on my person to my home on my body. For a week the bites mixed well with the fire ant stings for leg and ankle decorations.

The nest is still there in my yard, even though it was recently treated specifically for fire ants. I’ve ordered another kind of treatment for my clothing (permethrin) to deter the chiggers and other bugs, like ticks. I will treat clothing for trails and will apply DEET to my legs, ankles, and exposed skin. Oh, they found a mosquito with West Nile Virus on the south side. I live on the northside, but this should help with that.

I still like the idea of spraying fire ants on annoying people. Just don’t get caught.

Look both ways. Watch out for snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.
Mind the gaps where hide the chiggers and fire ants.

Poetry: Ich hatt’ Alte Kameraden

 

Goodbye my old friends. You’ll be missed.
But we have no ways to keep you all
held together. Your time has passed.

We all get old. If we’re lucky, we live
purpose driven lives of building memories. Yet,
wear and tear take an unrecoverable toll.

For so many years, you’ve held it together for me.
All nights and all days, when I called, you provided
me with comfort, support, and security.

You took beatings on hot days, the soakings
of untold rain and freezing weather in three states,
absorbing blows and poundings meant for me.

You guided my way on many paths of life,
through dust or mud, up ragged hills, through raging
flood waters of life, you gave your self for me.

Now your hollow dismembered carcass must go.
Leaving only podophilic memories for soles
to recall in gratitude for your long support.

We have harvested your organs, internal and external,
hoping to preserve your memory and to provide
transplants for younger, stronger soles soon to follow.

Were we a military unit, we would give you a medal
for valor and service. Governments would give you
citations for long dedicated self-sacrifice.

Thank you for your service. Old sneakers never die.
They just wear away in a soft squeaky whimper.
My feet, toes, and ankles salute you both: Comrades!

(21 foot-stomp salute!)

Bill Reynolds 10/18/18

Run through the jungle looking both ways and minding foot gaps, slips, and trips.

Poetry – NaPoWriMo: The Big Bike Ride

The day 26 NaPoWriMo prompt encourages me to write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste). I’ve reached for this kind of writing in the past because I enjoy it. This is one I wish I had more time to work, but the deal is a poem a day, finished or not.

The Big Bike Ride

Special pants and socks and ankle-high boots,
jacket, sunglasses, and ear-plugs too.
Put on the gloves and crank her on up,
listen to the purr of ma sweet little pup.
Map and cell phone, no room for ma cup.

Turn her handgrip and feel her pull forward,
tap on her brakes, then turn on her blinker,
it’s left then right, to a big road we’re headin’ toward.
Feel as one this man and machine, search for a groove
as together we skate, and down the road, so swiftly we move.

Feel the freedom and the touch of the wind,
see other traffic and hope they see you.
Mowers ahead, oh yes, that smell of fresh-cut grass.
Getting hard, this seat could be a pain in my ass.
Onto that big road where the traffic will pass.

So many cars and big trucks run in this hot Texas sun.
Crank hard on her handgrip to push her big run,
zip into the traffic and all of its dangers, we are not
to this wind some unknown strangers. Cars and trucks,
unaware of chaos they cause, pushing air all around.

Racked by turbulent wind, we lean left then right,
be in control no matter the fight. Look all around
and hope they see us. Damn these trucks make a terrible sound.
Truck’s got some cooking hot tires and stinking back brakes,
add to this big deal, the unwanted odor of burning black diesel.

First thunder, then lightning, we tighten our grip.
The smell of the rain gives up its first tip.
No longer we see them, they cannot see us.
The downpour continues and collects in our saddle.
Up this creek, we need a boat and some paddles.

See the sign, take the next exit. Slow to be sure we find the road safe.
What if this, what if that? And the now to the rain – slowly it stops.
Soaked to our bones, with the taste of rain fresh in my mouth.
Together we dried, so onto the little farm road, we’re ready to ride.
Smell the clean air and sweet wild flowers, all country scents.

The danger is gone, the road is now ours,
lean into the turns and feel the fresh start.
Now it’s a good day to go on for hours.
See colorful flowers born in the fields,
and the green trees. Look at the streams, now running so free.

Look and lean into each turn, she feels the road and my soft touch.
See the cows looking at us. Behold the ride, feels so right.
Not too fast nor too slow, see horses and sheep as along we go.
As we smell mom’s apple pie, roll-on, smooth curvy road.
Now it’s all worth it that danger and fear are in the past.

Let’s pull on over, Honda my dear. This is Cow Creek,
and here we can rest. I will can eat lunch and read you this book,
sitting just there while you cool off your heat.
Maybe you’ll soften that firm and hot seat,
as I write this here poem and have something to eat.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/26/2018)

Rider? Look all ways. Mind the gaps. Mind everything. See, be seen!

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Poetry – NaPoWriMo: Euphonious Rain

The day 23 NaPoWriMo prompt encourages me to write a poem based in sound. The poem could incorporate a song lyric in some way. Euphonious means pleasing to the ear.

 

 

Euphonious Rain

Listen…I Listen with my whole body.
I feel the sounds before I hear them.
They enter my complete being,
I’m mesmerized, tranquilized by sound.
Sounds go deep into my muscles and bones, I feel
enticing beats dive into my groin and pound my chest,
I inhale the rhythm, the beats and the measures.

I feel the music deep within me. As I hear it – I become it.
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
as it taps above me. Hear the distant drum of thunder.
I am the rain, the tin roof, I release all thought.
My mindless feeling becomes alluring calm.
Feel the rumble and hear the night dance,
calling me into a sound-filled trance.

Into such a compelling sedative of sound
I let it enter, to hear the rain kiss me and touch me
deep within my being, it becomes my feeling,
my loving soul hears sounds of being alive.
To feel. To love. To be soothed. To hear and
Feel the rhythm of the falling rain calling to me.
Who’ll never stop the wondrous falling rain?

(Bill Reynolds 4/23/2018)

Look both ways on rainy days and mind the gaps and puddles.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Poetry — NaPoWriMo: Envy ‘Neath a Window

The day 19 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month challenges me to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside a window, or even gives directions. I was to erase words from that paragraph to create a poem, or to use the words of the paragraph to build a new poem. Here is my result of that effort, without the paragraph.

Envy ‘Neath a Window 

With Mom I sat
As she was reading
Not to me – getting bored
On a raining summer day.
I’d catch some death of cold
She would say
From being wet with rain,
On that cool summer day.

Something ‘neath the window?
I walked to see a mouse.
I said no words, nor did he,
As I looked out the window.
My first envy feeling was seeing
Friends playing in the rain.

Making themselves damn fools.
I learned, in the adult version
Is as they call it, having a good time.
Damn fool for just sitting here.
“Mom, may I…?”
Envy. I felt it.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/19/2018)

Look both ways and love those rainy days.
Mind the gaps or hydroplane.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Ode to Rain: Epistle of Love

My love, my Rain.
I pine to feel your life-giving touch,
Your cool caressing embrace; ah, and this –
to hear those rippling and rapping sounds of your rhythmic voice.
I want those old feelings you once brought to me,
that I may again enjoy your aqueous presence. Indeed, to rejoice.

I miss familiar coolness, that softness you bring to the heat of the day,
as you contrast sky with clouds, and you paint the blue away,
I miss feeling peaceful and calm as my senses delight
when you gently fall over a long summer’s night –
I excite in anticipation of your first drop, with your sweet dripping touch;
shower me, Miss, in the pleasures of your cool moist mist,
no less than my heavenly reward, is when you’re ever-so saucy,
and you graze on my skin as it covers my body.

Please drip me with precip, wonderful Rain. My friend, my lover;
bring into my thoughts your kiss from above,
be in my dreams. Sing your sweet soaked song to me.
You, the essence of life, as you always will be,
preciously close, come here with me, this life is ours.
Bring me your gifts of awareness and pleasure,
of consciousness, gratitude, and love me forever.
Where are you Rain? I miss you too much!

Playfully poke me with your pluvio-pleasures.
Show me your ways with nature’s wet treasures.
Sprinkle your affection all over this heart you bless;
Taste me. I’ll feel you near. I yearn for your watery caress,
glide across my eyes and down on my face, go hide
under my clothes, cover my body as you slide.
Touch me, dear Rain, where no one else can.
Where are you now? Fall here on your man.

Sing me your songs; play me your drum!
Match to my heartbeat, your musical rhythm
and the welcome-home tapping of your wet little dance.
Tell me with distant rumblings, per chance
how you save the world, how you knew
the first life. You created all that is true.
Sing softly as you send water over me
as you finally wash my misery to sea.

From clouds you descend, mixing torrent with nature,
as I take into my body your mischievous essence.
Allow me a smile as I acknowledge your substance,
into my heart, I take your sensuous vapor.
Into you, I ply my being, stroking romance with your scent.
Cascade over me. Where are you falling?
My lovely, loving Rain? You are heaven-sent.
Plunge decadent raindrops to wash and to ease
my dry scorched body to ebb away my gloom.

With dew-moist feet, we dance into the night. We breeze
through those puddles of love that share our delights.
Happily we move with bushes and leaves of the trees.
We delightfully smile at all the night lights,
seeing your wondrous mysterious intrigue.
Invitingly, I see in the distant dark sky,
your distinct flickering lightning, drawing me nigh.
Come closer to me, be with me Rain, rain and rain.
Mix with these gentle breezes again.
My Love, My Rain…I miss you. Come, wash away this bane.

Bill Reynolds 8/10/2017

Look both ways for the rain, rain, to come and play.
We’ll find the sun another day.
Mind the dry gap and wear sunscreen.

Footnote: I really do miss the rain. I moved to the PNA (partly) because it rains often. We have now officially shattered the old days-without-rain record (51), now at 55 days with no rain, and counting. If I wanted this shit, I would have moved to freaking Arizona.

Prose Poem: In Forest Rain

Haibun Poem is a combination of a prose poem and haiku. As developed, the writer would first describe something in prose, then write a haiku appropriate to the place or scene. This was the first prompt provided by the NaPoWriMo web site.

Experience Life

In Forest Rain

Walking along a forest trail during a gentle rain, emotions rejoin surroundings to human nature. It feels so right. See glorious trees, green vegetation dancing with raindrops. Feel connected. Nature paints portraits of life with movement. Moisture mingles in soil; sends life to earth.

Hear the rain. Be mesmerized by the sound of natural life – earth as it should be. The rustling sounds of birds and animals as life deals with nature’s wet gifts. And the rain. The glorious rain.

Feel soft, spongy earth. Feel rain pecking at us as other animals respond to a refreshing cleansing. Touch moss hugging trees, a reminder of life on life, natural interdependence. Feel rain penetrate to caress our skin. Become one with flora, refreshed. Be pleased with the universe.

Taste the freshness. Be the salt of the earth. Belong here. Smell pleasant scents following rain. Forest releases magical, glorious aromas. Nature at work. Belong and know this is life, a cosmic interconnectedness. Be one with the universe, as its vastness finds paths to weave fateful patterns through space, through time, and through all, to the tiniest speck of galactic dust. We’re all connected.

Haiku

Rain falls on all
See life dance all around
The deer drinks

Look both ways; but look, see, smell, taste, and feel. Mind the gaps, not the rain.

Spiritual Poetry

I love the spiritual nature of this poem.

rainyday1

      The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

       ——-By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

rainyday3

Longfellow invokes the value of our dark days and the transient nature of life for each of us.

What does his poem say to you?

rainyday2

Zephyr

ZThere are four brothers. They struggle to get along with each other, due to more than a little sibling rivalry. Three of them like to cause trouble. These three are selfish and annoying to humans and gods alike. They like to hide things from the sun, whose name is Sol. The three are very jealous of Sol. They think that they exist purely to keep Sol from comforting the earth and its inhabitants with his warming rays of light. Sol despises the three troublemakers, and openly favors the fourth brother. Sol knows how the earth, plants, animals, insects, and most people respond to his warm presence when the three annoying brothers are resting.

The four brothers have names, and each does something different. Of the three who cause problems, each believes his importance is greater than any of the others, and greater than Sol’s. Only one brother seems to have a workable relationship with the sun. Because he works so well with him, Sol overlooks the mischievousness of the fourth brother.

Zephyr11Boreas is the north wind. While he can be out causing problems at any time of the year, his favorite season is winter. He is cold, icy, and wild. Boreas has a reputation for causing trouble and making a mess. He is a bully known for pushing the other three brothers around, especially Notus.

Notus is the south wind. He pushes back on Boreas’ bullish winds, often making things worse for the earth and its inhabitants. But he doesn’t care. Notus is a wet wind. He carries large drops of water in his beard which he rains down onto earth when he chooses. Zephyr10He is sometimes careless. Boreas sneaks under him and freezes his rain, sometimes just as it falls, causing havoc on the earth. At other times the north wind pushes back, causing violent destructive storms. This embarrasses Notus, but Boreas thinks it is funny. To confuse his brothers, especially the irritating Boreas, Notus sometimes spreads fog over the land and sea.

Zephyr12Eurus, the east wind, is foolish and lazy. He seldom does anything, preferring the amusement of watching the conflicts arise between his brothers. When he is bored, he teams up with Boreas to create problems and confusion. Together they make a north and east wind, known as a Nor’easter. Eurus watches from the comfort of his room and laughs at the chaos he creates with his brother. He is the most evil of the three problem winds.

Zephyr9

The fourth brother is Zephyr, the west wind. He is the only brother honored by humans. They call him by his name — not so for the other three. To humans, “Zephyr” is a gentle breeze. He is a soft, dependable wind. Zephyr is loved by all inhabitants of Earth, be they human, animal, or plant. Sol is fond of him because Zephyr makes it possible for him to do his job. When the sun does his job too harshly, Zephyr pleases the people and animals by cooling them with a gentle breeze.

Zephyr8Zephyr enjoys seeing humans smile as he touches them, blowing into their faces, caressing their bodies, and messing up their hair. Often, after his brothers make a mess, Zephyr works to clean things up. He sweeps the sky clean of clouds so that Sol can warm the people, melt the frozen ice and snow, and dry the soil. Plants can grow, people can honor the sun, and animals can forage among the plants. Life goes on.

zephyr1

The inhabitants of Earth understand that they must deal with both Boreas and Notus. They have little use for the east wind, Eurus. Their favorite is the one whose name they know and use: Zephyr. As they watch and feel him at their back, they see the night fade as Sol rises in the east. Then, at the end of a day, feeling gentle breezes on their faces, they watch the return of night as Sol sets in the west. Every day, they love the work of Zephyr and Sol.

So ends the story of the four winds, the sun, and the 2016 a-to-z blog challenge.

Rain Man (you knew this was coming)

RIn a scene from my childhood, I watched through our living room window as kids my age played in a rainstorm. They were laughing and having a wonderful time getting soaked. The streets and gutters were awash. One boy sat down in a flooded gutter as the water pushed against him and splashed hard around his body. I felt envy. Not because they were having fun without me, but because they were playing in the rain. I was home with my mother, and she told me that I couldn’t go out because I would get soaked and catch my “death-of-cold.” I have since learned and admit more about myself, and about colds.

Rain 1The word ‘pluvial’ refers to rain or something characterized by abundant rain. The suffix ‘phile’ denotes fondness. Consequently, a pluviophile is one who finds joy and peace of mind on rainy days. I was taught that rainy days were sad, as in the Carpenters song lyric; “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” I was to believe nice days were sunny, cloudless, and warm. I’ve never felt that way. Sunny and pleasant days have their place, but few are enough. Later in life, I admitted to liking cloudy, rainy days. I now identify as a pluviophile. These days, I’m often asked why, after more than twenty years in California, Texas, and Florida; I recently moved to the Pacific Northwest. I ask, “Do you know what a pluviophile is?” Like it should be news to me, I’ve repeatedly been told “it rains a lot there.” I reply with a smile, “Yes, it does.”

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” ~ John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs

ShawshankRainWide-1 Rain 4My involvement with rain changes with its many forms. Scientific names apply based on how it comes about. But, I am talking about how the rain itself varies from torrential downpour to a gentle drizzle. Duration, wind, thunder, lightning, air temperature, and other factors contribute to our experiencing rain. There are times of rain just falling, and times with thunder and lightning. There is morning rain, afternoon rain, and rain at night. Each is emotionally and physically encountered differently. It can be seen and heard while keeping dry, thus precluding feeling the rain. Only outdoors can we dance in the rain. If I don’t perceive rain with senses—I just get wet. Our world changes when it rains. We need it, just as we do sunshine. To me life smells, feels, looks, and sounds more alive in the rain. In the city, rural areas, and in the forest, everything improves. When I am with the rain, I heal and recover. It’s a spiritual exposure difficult to explain. I’m not especially spiritual, but in rain I sense life — nature.

street_by_night_2_innsbruck_by_maradong Rain 2I recently delayed my daily walk when rain was forecast. After waiting for the rain to start, I donned shorts and tee. I was off in good spirits, expecting to be, and was, soaked. After an hour, I was back home. I sat on a dry and covered bench, removed my soaked shoes and socks, slapped water from my dripping baseball cap, and chuckled. I was thinking how others might consider me deranged. But, this is why I’m here.

Nighttime rain is different—good, but different. There’s more drama on rainy nights. When I have a challenging day, I like to experience night rain by imagining the character of Mike Hammer from a Mickey Spillane crime novel. I picture me on a dark, moonless night; standing under a lamp post illuminating my silhouette. With muffled, distant thunder following flashes of light, rain sparkles from the beams of the light post. I wear the characteristic trench coat with raised collar and a gray fedora,Rain 8 tilted forward and cocked right. The front brim bent slightly downward with water flowing off. The sound of falling rain is all around. I hear it splash into puddles and onto sidewalks. With water moving everywhere, I forget the day’s problems and the annoying people. But mystery is afoot. Like it or not, Mike Hammer is involved. And of course, there is a woman. As Hammer, in the writing of Spillane, I mumble, “In the flora and fauna of the Bowery, she was a lot of flora and quite a bit of fauna. She looked like she belonged in a field of Wyoming wildflowers instead of wandering through the human backwash of the avenue.” In the night rain, I can do this. Rain brings magic and drama.

I’ve passed through forest after a rain. My senses were filled with sights, sounds, and the aroma of nature. There I can see and feel it because everything is wet. For me, awareness of water is experiencing the essence of living.

Tony-Yazbeck-in-Singing-in-the-Rain-Drury-Lane-Theatre Rain 5Let’s take life, rain or shine, one day at a time. It’s about how we feel. We’re not alone in our emotional response to rain. In the Pacific Northwest, we love the outdoors, rain or shine. Too much shine and we miss the rain. After some rain, we’re ready to let a little sunshine in. “In every life a little rain must fall….” Of course, and why not?

“The richness of the rain made me feel safe and protected; I have always considered the rain to be healing—a blanket—the comfort of a friend. Without at least some rain in any given day, or at least a cloud or two on the horizon, I feel overwhelmed by the information of sunlight and yearn for the vital, muffling gift of falling water.” ~ Douglas Coupland, Life After God