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The ramblings and observations of a kidney transplant recipient, although not necessarily for that reason.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

When I was young, my family would take late summer trips to Klamath, CA with a couple other families. We would stay in a lodge at Camp Marigold, play lots of cards, walk up the street to pick blackberries, and freak out every year when the bear cubs would get brave enough to fish through our garbage cans. My father and his friends would wade into the Klamth River and catch enough steelhead to stock our freezer for the year. The mothers would sit on the river bank and gossip. The kids would catch frogs and bury each other in the sand. At the end of each day we would get a fire going, listen to the dads tell fish stories, and eat a bunch of burnt hot dogs and marshmallows.

These trips were usually a week or two. This was a long time for a kid keep himself occupied with frog catching and "The Trees Of Mystery". We could only stand playing the French card game Mille Bornes so many times and entertainment options were few with only one viewable TV broadcast from a local channel in Eureka. But we could always count on the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon to mark our vacation with one night of entertainment. Us keeping track of the dollars Jerry was racking up and hoping each time he went to the tally board it would hit whatever milestone Jerry was shooting for.

Because Klamath is SOOO far north in CA, it was always a little colder than home, where the SF Bay Area would usually be experiencing Indian Summer. Even though it was a still couple weeks away, it always felt like Fall when we were there. I always associate the MDA Telethon with the coming of that season.

With the telethon airing this past Monday, I had been feeling Autumnish all this week, but the past few days the weather in SF, while foggy in the morning, has still managed to remain Summery. The fog had been burning off by 11 am and the sun was providing enough warmth to keep it in the 70's. Today, though, was a different story. The fog was upon us as usual, but the moisture was a little heavier. There was enough mist in the air to make my back porch look like it had been rained on. Maybe it had? The fog did burn off, but only to reveal some pretty thick looking clouds above it. With a pretty decent wind blowing at noon, finally the weather had caught up to my Fall attitude.

This time of year is my favorite. Returning from these trips usually meant I had a couple days, maybe a week to enjoy the Summer schedule before getting back in to the swing of school, which I actually looked forward to by this point. I would spend the last few days with no school riding my bike to the park, rough-housing with a few other kids that were no longer on their Summer-end vacation, and shooting off the remnants of my fireworks from July. My mom was a little more lenient with curfews than other parents, so I would usually end up the last kid on the playground.

Just as it was getting dark, I would say goodbye to my friends and try to figure out what to do with the hour or so more time I had left to play. I would give the monkey bars, the slide, and the swings all another go, but would find them much less exhilarating without a partner or two to share in the playground's glory. I would realize that the wind whipping on my neck had a chill to it that had not been there before my Klamath trip.

As the park was connected to my elementary school, I would end the day walking up to the school yard as my house was in that direction. After firing off the last of my bottle rockets and jumping jacks, I would consider heading home, though I hated the thought of giving up my last 45 minutes of freedom for the day, knowing that once school starts, I wouldn't get any minutes like these again until next year. So, I would get myself a sip of water from the school's half-working 6-faucet trough and sit on a school bench (usually next to the classroom I would be attending once Summer ended) just thinking. Thinking about nothing in particular.

The wind would continue to bite at me. Stirring up goose bumps on my exposed forearms and squirming its way up my T-shirt's sleeves to remind me that I forgot my jacket. I hadn't gotten in all my "thinking" time, but I needed to find a wind break to get a little warmer. I rode my bike around the school testing the wind conditions of each corridor. Every wall. Every fence line. I just wanted to find a place to sit quietly. I wanted a place where I could make myself as small as possible. Somwhere that I could watch and listen to the schoolyard, but not really be a part of it.

I always ended up in the same place. I tucked myself into a corner where one wall of the gymnasium met at a right angle with one wall of the library, overlooking the entire schoolyard, park, and playground. Sitting Indian style on the ground, I would curl myself into a ball, shut my eyes, and listen to the wind wrestle with the playground, rattling the chains that hold up the swings, blowing sand across the metal bottom of the merry-go-round, and creaking the 10" spring as the wind pushed against some saddled metal circus animal the spring held up. I could never find the perfect position or combination of sticking my arms inside my shirt and pulling my collar up over my chin to completely stave off the chill, but I wouldn't have chosen another place to be for those 45 minutes.
posted by othur-me @ 3:17 PM  
  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger mjd said…

    Milles Bornes, I remember this game. I love reading about the late summer of your youth, what wonderful days. I wish you some similar gloroius days before autumn begans this year.

  • At 6:32 PM, Blogger Jane said…

    I love what you wrote!
    It took me back to my childhood for a sec. and it made me smile.

  • At 7:48 AM, Blogger Red said…

    I loved this entry!

  • At 12:48 AM, Blogger othur-me said…

    mjd, jane, and red - thanks.

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