The third to the fifth


Last Frontier Saloon, Fall City, Washington

On the third of July I wear a sweater most of the day, shorts, argyle socks I thought were on their last leg, write about the rain, try to nap, serve breakfast after 12, sit on a rock by the lake on the phone talking to my mom, read Updike on the couch, Self-Consciousness, micro-manage the kids about their rooms, checking in, following up, grooming the project backlog, the litter box: the cat’s pissed off about her food, preens on the stairs, keeps licking the small of her back, but it’s a stain that won’t come out.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s the Fourth of July and I just put the heat on. It got down to 65 in the house and Dawn’s family was in from California, all of them in their parkas looking startled. The miller moths, the cicadas that run in 13- and 17-year cycles in the South, that grow red eyes as they mature like Darth Maul and crunch underfoot as you cross the lawn, that have grippers on their legs they use to anchor themselves to your arms when they land — the miller moths, or army cutworm, that leave a dusty, oily residue when you kill them, their scales, how they gather and accumulate in dark spaces and drop in clumps from the undersides of cars as they jounce across the bridge, Colorado. The midges of the Scottish Highlands, the horse flies on the California coast, in Oregon, how their legacies swell as we go around the table trading tales.

On the third I wore a sweater most of the day with shorts, argyle socks, trying to look different or like I didn’t care what I looked like, which is its own look. Lily’s jean shorts are wearing through in the back and have a Daisy Duke quality that’s unsettling. Dawn’s cousin Russ calls me Cletus, a reference to my shirt, that I confuse with the baboon named Clyde in Every Which Way But Lose. The Fourth of July shirt I wear once a year for the past ten and haven’t washed once probably, don’t need to.

On Mondays we feed the orchids three ice cubes each to control their intake, and though it’s a Monday it doesn’t feel like it on the Fourth, it feels just like the Fourth, that could be any day of the week, a copy and paste of every Fourth that’s come before which we’ll try to remember but won’t.

The Fourth of July vibe as dusk comes on and the sound of far-away fantasy bombs. The glory of the struggle, the conflict, the underdog. The joy of lighting shit on fire and blowing things up. The threat of thousand dollar fines never realized. All that is summer, in bomb pops and barbecues. It’s so good even the Germans idealize it, the American grill, the romance of butchers and men in bibs looking stern, flipping animal parts over a live fire.

On the fifth of July in my robe on the sofa looking out the window I realize I haven’t been doing anything but staring, haven’t even had my coffee, and it’s raining again, maybe 60, and I should put the lawn chairs away and hang up my shirt.

Categories: musings

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Sorry the weather is maudlin up there. It was high 90s down here all weekend, with smoke in the air, but no fireworks because — that’s just asking for trouble!

    That riff on the insects gave me a creepy feeling, yet I keep rescuing the silverfish who get stranded in the bathtub. (And I just realized I called the silverfish “who” instead of “that” …)


    • I’m glad for the no fireworks, kind of surprised, seems intensely sensible. Nothing against So Cal: it’s just the people who light stuff on fire and blow it up I’m talking about. Hoping it abates for you and you can see the sun sets again soon. Bill


  2. Drink 3 cups and take a nap on the couch. That’s why we have rainy days, so you can relax.


  3. i love rainy days, i am hypnotized by them –

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Fantasy bombs” I like that. Heard some popping and fizzing around here last night. We’re almost American. Some of us actually are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I sure wish we could share our heatwave. All 90somethings and heat indexes about 110. That’s NC in the summer. Sweat dripping down our backs as we watched fireworks over Lake Waccamaw at 9pm. The grass is always greener ya know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah we are that small band of green on a heat map where the rest of the country’s red or orange. I feel you, but NC sounds nice. Grass is always greener right? Until it turns brown. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was awesome. I was trying to read it with the headphones down around my neck while kind of still listening to Rage Against the Machine, and my ears were still ringing from that, and then my wife came home. All of those things distracted me from this that I need to read again (already read it twice, but I’ve also been enjoying adult beverages this evening). I really like this, it feels like your style, but even more your style than what’s come before, more stream of conscious, and beat-poet-finger-snappy. I liked this a lot. If I were the comment police, I’d require everyone to stand to attention just a bit more, to recognize and such. Seriously. This to me seems like, well, not so much like new ground, just ground more confidently tread, if that makes sense. Like you found the spot to plant your flag.


    • That’s sweet man — and weird, I missed this comment when it came through, don’t know why!? Don’t get too many, so no excuse. I’m glad you picked up on that, I am trying a new strain here, trying to forge elsewhere. Also trying to ape some of the impressions I’m picking up from this Updike book. Thanks for being on it, here. And the flag image is nice, and apt. Bill (Now go back to Rage.)


  7. I might feel flattered if someone nicknamed me after that orangutan (?) though I didn’t remember his name. It also didn’t feel like the 4th on the east coast, though we spent the day at the beach. It was overcast and drizzly, cool enough to wear a shirt and still wrap up in a towel. Funny how temperature/feel sets the mood. Oh, and I particularly like the description on insects in this one. Very fine writing, always relatable.


    • I wouldn’t have written it without the need to capture the insect talk on the Fourth, around our dinner table, that was kind of classic. I’m happy you liked it and I don’t know, actually happy for your weather there — I suppose if I had to choose I’d be in the drizzly, cool camp: which makes me well-suited for the Northwest. Bah humbug, you know. Thank you Kristen for the praise. Bill


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