Fire snakes are lit to help pull-apart rails slide back together again. This I learn from a nephew who spent years as an engine boss fighting wild fires in the Rocky Mountain states. The properties of fire are not difficult to learn, right? Just decide to pay attention. But I am his father’s sister and so he doesn’t say that to me. He says instead: Huh! I thought everyone knew rails pull apart and fire puts them back together. He’s a kind man.
High winds bring color. This is what my father writes with today’s emailed photo. I think of all the years my siblings and I watched our father take photos. A road trip interrupted by a series of vista points and photo ops. Early morning calls to “rise and shine” in order to capture sunrise on the canyon walls in the river setting we grew up within. So common to me, it’s only now I am paying attention. I hadn’t thought about high winds in this regard until now. What else have I been missing?
Pay attention. Drive to the grocery store with your mittens off. The steering wheel is cold and feels harder. Locust trees have been the first to lose their leaves. I realize this once I notice the Patmore ash trees downtown are still a vivid yellow. And the row of pine trees at Burger King have recently been trimmed. I pull into the parking lot and reach under the seat for my camera, thinking to take a few photos of the fresh wounds, the sap sliding down the rough bark.
Across the parking lot, a truck load of large river rock is being spread between the front of a 24-hour breakfast shop and the mature low-lying evergreen shrubs hugging against the brick facade. Why? No one will see the gorgeous rocks once they are spread out. Maybe they are meant for water shed? But while I might not know the answer, I know who to call.
I take my sappy photos, get back in my warm car and dial a shout-out to Plentywarmboots. Not too long ago he and I had spent a cold Saturday searching for roller shades at thrift stores to repair a broken shade at my house. After he had disappeared from the home improvement section, I found him just as he was buying a pair of size nine boots (two sizes too small for his own feet). The boots were for a man he’d noticed earlier wearing soccer cleats, holding a cardboard sign at the corner of Fourth and Exposition.
And when he answers, and when I tell him about the rocks I can hear him stir.
“Is this the breakfast joint downtown?” He asks. I think I hear him pulling on his boots, zipping up his coat. Finding car keys in his pocket, as though to drive downtown and take a look.
Yes. Downtown, across from the library. Now I hear him sigh. Street people, he says, street people. It’s warmer between the bushes and the building. Once those rocks are in, they’ll lose a place to sleep.