Friday, September 13, 2013
I left through my back gate at 2:00 a.m. It was dark but the sky was clear and there were lots of stars twinkling above. I automatically say to myself, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...." I spotted the Big and Little Dippers and the North Star. The moon was a perfect half circle. Every so often I would see the flickering blue light of an insomniacs TV screen through a slit in the drapes. It was cool. Some houses had upstairs windows open to catch the night breeze. The street lamps go on and off as their temperature sensors decide. A few of the sidewalks are cracked from the big tree roots that run under them. Some curbs have disintegrated or worn away. It is a familiar route.
I get into a rhythm and begin to chant "God Bless Mother and Dad and Viki and Susi and all our friends and loved one...and then I begin to name them by name. I'm still naming names in a 1-2-3-4 rhythm when I come around the corner to the Holiday gas station. The lights are blazing. I've come just shy of half way. I wave at Zach. Wonder why he's working tonight and if Dennis is out sick or just wanted to trade days off. Wonder if the lotto winner who bought his ticket there will come forward today. A 20 million dollar ticket was sold here a couple weeks ago and no winner has gone to Helena to claim the prize. Then on Wednesday night we found out they sold a $9000 winning ticket. No one has claimed that prize either. Can't be me. I don't buy lotto tickets.
I'm just turning the corner and a white railroad fuel truck pulls up next to me. I look up and Matty hollers at me, "Aren't you a little OLD to be a street walker?". I laugh and wave. I used to work this graveyard shift with him. At least he didn't say, "Aren't you too FAT to be a street walker?"
I look at my stopwatch and try to do the math in my head. It must be 9:30 a.m. in England. I wonder if Sassy is on her way walking her own 5K. I pick up the pace. I wanted to make 15 minute miles. There are two mosquitoes that have been buzzing near my ear for the last 10 minutes. I smell of REPEL insect repellent so they don't land...I get in a little extra bicep work swatting at them. I ask myself the eternal question..."Why can't mosquitoes suck fat instead of blood?" Four more blocks to the police station. I pass the empty lot. It's not empty? They have put up chain link panels and filled it with dirt piles and heavy equipment. It's going to be the new clinic. I shake my head and think, "What a waste of grant money. We can't get doctors to come here. There are already 4 clinics and a hospital in an 80 mile radius that can't get the staff to provide services." I can't let myself start ranting about these kind of things. I want to stay positive and upbeat.
I walk past the police station, then the fire station. I admire a boulevard where they have taken out the grass, lined it with black cloth and filled it with bark nuggets. Then they have placed pots of varying shapes and sizes filled with assorted flowers. I spot a huge tomato plant in the midst of the petunias and marigolds and coleus. And the teepee is actually pole beans. I smile and wonder if kids walking by on their way to school will steal the beans or tomatoes. I cross the street and I'm at the Dairy Queen. I smile again. My mom says her car automatically pulls in there. I don't like ice cream. Never have. My mom and dad walked to the DQ every evening when she was pregnant with me. I was born in August. I had enough ice cream before I was born to last a lifetime. I take a right and go two blocks west. I take a left and begin up the steep hill past Paul's house. Across the street from him is a house on stilts. Next to it the yard has steep terraces that will soon be filled with every imaginable Halloween decoration. I'm slowing down a little towards the top of the hill. The stars are back. This is not one of the tree-lined streets. They were cut down to make garages that no one had when these houses were built. Too many cars line these streets. Boats on their trailers waiting for the weekend trip to the lake. Travel trailers waiting to be winterized and hauled to winter storage. The sidewalk slopes gently down to the Curve park. I round the s-curve. Two blocks to go. Tree branches arch over the sidewalk here. I've gone past my 45 minute goal. I pick up the pace a bit more, turn off the sidewalk, into the alley, into the gravel. Walk past the Virginia creeper covered fence, walk past the old falling down garage. Pass the dumpsters on the left, take a right and go between my car and the garage. Flip the latch on the gate, step into the back yard and turn off the stopwatch...49:06. It is finished.
Judy will be walking in Nova Scotia today. Sassy somewhere west of London. Stacy somewhere in rural Kansas. Eliz is with me in spirit. Other Sparkers are walking their own 5K today. Mine is done. Gus is scratching at the back door to come out and greet me. Grace jumps up on me too. They are glad to have me home. They want to go back to bed. I need to shower off the insect repellent and wash my hair. Then I will log in my time and relax awhile. I thought I would sleep...but the endorphins have kicked in and I am not tired. I'm just glad to be done. Feeling blessed that I live in a town I can walk around in the middle of the night, that I have little dogs who wait up for me, that the sky was clear and there was light from the moon and the stars twinkled at me. I get my little Spark Trophy and I smile.