Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Far away, Long Ago

Sometimes I get a whiff of a bit of moisture mixed with the pines and I feel the asphalt beneath my feet again, a long time ago. Once upon a time in Oregon, on a road in the evening, with the surface of the road warm and soothing, a young man walked with pack and stick and a growing awareness from the many scaly encounters his feet were having that his mocs had big holes in them, the snakes on the highway were hard to see in the growing darkness, and there was a real horrible possibility that he'd be walking in the dark, stepping on snakes for many a mile. It was an Oregon wetland and I was pretty sure most of the snakes were harmless, but a single hiss would do it: I would jump up in the air and land squishily on a gopher snake and he'd scream and bite me and I'd jump again, landing on some other snake and pretty soon I would look like a golf ball in a field of mousetraps.

A station wagon pulled up and the door to an old Plymouth wagon was the pearly gates and Golden Gate all in one. I climbed in and promptly shook my boots out to make sure I had no passengers and to check on the size of the damage. I had two good sized holes in each moccasin. It could have been worse, though, because I had traded an old harmonica to a kid for a nice calf hide. I just cut off a portion with my knife and placed it into a moccasin over the hole. When i was done I could get several more miles out of those guys! Good job! Now I looked at the guy driving the wagon.

He was scruffy, I guess, but I was worse off. He was also sucking on a bottle in a brown paper bag and holding the steering wheel with his left index finger while his elbow rested on the old girl's elbow rest. Not a bad deal, maybe a buzz, certainly further down the road, and best of al no snakes. I remember looking around back to make sure he wasn't transporting snakes to some zoo in Seattle. He wasn't. It had been raining off and on for an hour or so and my fake fur jacket smelled like a wet dog.

So when Wrigley and I went out back to open up the hen house and check for evidence of woodchucks or foxes messing around, as I walked up the path I was wearing my big green boots because it had been raining off and on and by now Wrigley smelled like a wet dog, which is of course what he was. But it takes you back. It takes me back anyway.

Fish and chips, good fish and chips in a newspaper cone with vinegar and salt on the chips and fish does it for me. I'm on Haight Street, that great street and it's 1967. I fear I was dressed in a green satin dressing gown sheered short and hemmed by my own fingers. It was a bit of splendor to make up for the sandals, tee shirt and jeans. Like the beads, except the beads on the street often moved from neck to neck, like puppies. But the small portion of fish and chips at the Shamrock cost a mere 30 cents and the large portion only 60 cents. That was not too hard to panhandle. A large portion had 2-3 chunks of fish and a LOT of chips, we'd be able to feed a multitude with a couple large portions. Everybody shared. Couples with babies were not unknown, but not often seen during the day. They tended to have crash pads and the ladies were often at home tending to the baby. Sometimes several couples would occupy a flat and there would be dogs and kids and a lot of confusion. They were always melting pots with all the races represented and some in between.

Going over to a place with a friend for some reason dealing with drugs and music... As we approach the front porch my friend turns to me and says, "Now, don't stare. Doug and Ada are nudists.." and the door opened. She was remarkably beautiful, with a full round moon-like face surrounded by a cascade of midnight hair and a Bode body, all pale and rounded. I could not stare. I looked beyond her to see the old man sitting on the couch, rolling a joint. I was real happy and it must have shown, because now that Goddess of the moment was in the kitchen wearing an apron and washing the sink full of dishes. Still, she had twin moons and I could glance as we chatted. Later, carrying an amp and being fairly high, I walked back to my friends house where, conceivably we would smoke a little more while trying out the amp. My friend turned to me and raised an eyebrow. "How'd I do?" I asked him. He looked away for a moment, thinking in silence. "Well, it's hard, ya know?" he said. We walked in silence back to his crash. It was hard.

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