Sunday, April 10, 2011

Place Blog 7

The moment I stepped outside, I walked through a curtain of warmth. That curtain I haven’t felt in two seasons, in six months. It was 77 degrees with a warm wind that smelled of flowers. All the trees had budded seemingly overnight. I like to think that I’m observant, that I’d notice the gradual changes to the color of grass, the size of buds, the green shoots of new flowers, but somehow nature always one-ups me in the end. I’m waiting for spring to arrive and buds to appear one day, and the next day it’s near 80 degrees and the buds on the trees area already spreading and blooming and readying for leaves. It was wonderful to dress in a t-shirt, gray cotton pants, and tennis shoes. Aside from storms, warm, clear days like this are my favorite weather. The only thing to make it better would be a night storm, but apparently that’s not supposed to arrive until tomorrow.
To get to the backyard, I crossed the front lawn to discover it littered with hundreds of cigarette butts. They won’t degrade. Another pet peeve added against one of the male housemates. My neighbors had strung small wind chimes along their overhang that bordered my land bridge. They tinkled in the constant breeze that, this time, did not prelude another blizzard and instead proclaimed that we should go fly a kite.
Walking back there in the bright afternoon when everything was turning fresh and clean made me see all the sections of the house that were peeling in off-white strips from under eaves or windowsills. Yet just like spring, it showcases slow decay with bright youth, because just above the peeling eaves, out of view, sat a singing robin atop the sunroom’s slanted roof. If I had walked onto the roof from my room instead of across the long, tangled grass, I might have seen him.
The neighbor girl was out as well cleaning her bicycle with her younger brother, and across the alley, two men laid new wood and reshingled their own slanted roof. I know I’m situated in the middle of a dense neighborhood, and people are as drawn to spring as I am. But I couldn’t help but feel a bit violated or observed. Like reverse, unwanted voyeurism. I felt exposed, like my own scrutiny of my place was being scrutinized, like walking into class to find that the seat I’ve always sat in was occupied. To make matters worse, that seat was covered in sharpie and gum and chipped away by a pocket knife that engraved initials and space guns. All that took the form of various little I-don’t-know-what’s, a pink-rimmed sock, a thick emerald sock, an black upside down knee or shoulder pad, broken green crayons, chipped edges of Styrofoam, felt, a white garden tab that would have displayed the species of a vegetable or flower, those black egg cartons that were once filled with new flowers to pot.  Did the wind drift the junk into the yard? Had an ashtray upturned and caused dozens of crumpled cigarette butts to fall on the grass?
The ground was just as uneven as before, but the tall grass accentuated the mounds. I walked to the bricked off rectangle of uncultivated and pebbley soil where the garden is to be and tried to find evidence of any wild flowers, but there was none.  With each step, little white gnats rose and spread. I walked into the junk-filled garage for the first time and called for the house’s missing cat, Mastadon. He didn’t answer, but I noticed that the large rolling door was half open. Who knows who’s been going in and out, if they’ve taken anything (not that there was much to take), if they’ve walked up the side staircase to the upper floor and watched me undress.
I walked back out and stood listening. A large dog harroofed from a few houses down. Motorcycles grumbled from every direction. The men across the alleyway echoed hammering. Spring is so loud compared to winter. In winter, people only drive if they have to, they avoid going outside, birds are quiet or gone, and animals sleep. Today, the loud neighbors are outside, dogs are left out longer to bark at people or strange noises, and shadows glide across the lawn as birds flit by. I appreciate the warmth and getting overheated just by standing in full sunlight without a jacket. I’ve missed that. But I haven’t missed the noise.

1 comment:

  1. I love spring and summer too, but find the noise unsettling as well. Here, the ubiquitous sound of riding lawn mowers is one I find almost offensive.