The 00000 Club

Pulling off on the side of the road, it could be argued, was a little dangerous. I was on a freeway just north of Detroit, in a lot of traffic. When I merged, I would have to merge fast. I didn’t care. The car I was driving was coming up on 100,000 miles. I wanted to see the odometer turn and stop at the exact moment when all the zeros aligned.

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Sing It

Since the beginning of Covid time, four or five days a week we take this walk. And every morning a song visits me, unbidden.  

This morning it’s the theme from “The Odd Couple.” Where did that come from?  Yesterday it was “I Think I’m Going Out of My Head,” which, for sentimental reasons, I was totally okay with. The day before that I was stuck all morning with The Captain and Tenille, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which was almost more than I could take. 

Human beings, the study of evolution tells us, are unique among creatures in a couple ways. We use fire. We make (and take) pictures. And we make music. Susanne Langer suggests that humans may have been musical even before they became verbal. So those songs, I guess, are coming to me from not just the eighth grade, but also from somewhere old, somewhere deep in my primordial memory.

Also, laughter sets us apart from other creatures. Yes, I know, hyenas. And there are chimps that can be crackpots and seem to have a great sense of humor. But man laughs. He chuckles, chortles, giggles and guffaws, snickers, titters, and horse laughs.  “Laughter is the property of man,” writes Rabelais, echoing Aristotle.

These mornings, when these songs fill my head, I’ve learned to keep them to myself, even when they make me laugh. They give me pleasure, pleasure my wife does not long share when I hum, whistle, or sing the same phrases over and over. A song like “Love Will Keep Us Together” is guaranteed to drive us apart. On Pine Tree Trail, when we pass the house with the Real Estate One sign out front, I inexplicably want to sing “Let yourself go to Real Estate One” to the tune of “Let yourself go to Pizza Hut.” I’m subject to ditties. I think that’s funny. Three days in a row I strike up that tune.

Not today. My wife is not amused.

Smoke Signal

We’re facing east on Lone Pine Road when my wife asks, “Are you going to take a picture?”

I could take a picture, yes. At 7:00 a.m. the sun is rising in the east. At the end of the road, just above the horizon, the sun is sandwiched between two stands of trees. The sun looks like a peeled nectarine, psychedelic pink, brilliant, beautiful. Also definitely and tragically the wrong color. On my social media accounts last night and the night before, were astonished reports: “Wow!” “Amazing!” “You gotta see this!” along with smart phone photos of the sun setting, with its odd, ravishing color.

Red sun at night, something’s not right.

Red sun in the morning, mankind is screwed. 

It feels that way these days, because right now the whole west coast is on fire, and here in the Midwest the smoke has arrived in our upper atmosphere, between 15,000 and 30,000 feet, not a cloud in a sky that should be blue this morning. It’s not. Our sky is airborne-disaster gray, the sun an over-ripe fruit. 

Every morning I take pictures–of trees, berries, leaves, flowers, fungi, of the deer if they let me. I want this picture of the sun, I really do, almost as much as I don’t want it.  We’re not supposed to see a sun that looks like this. It’s not natural.