We just rolled down from our northwoods vacation, where we hiked and/or biked and/or ran
daily. Three out of the six days, we logged more than 15 miles each day, including one hike and one bike around this trail system. The trails, you might notice, even with the blurry i-phone picture, wind around lake after lake. The closest approximation to sublime for me is zooming on a path of pine needles, woods and hills to my right, a beach and shimmering lake to my left. And that's after the bike shot out from under me on the dew-soaked trellis with its surprise curve. I know a lot of road bikers and non-bikers who think mountain biking is crazy, and given that this trek gave me the occasion to come up with the word "scruise" to name the hideous scrape/bruise thing my handlebar made on my left bicep, they have a point. Still, the concentration and sheer effort required by mountain biking can get my mind off everything else in the world while at the same time concocting some equally crazy endorphines. So yeah, crazy good.
And here is a photo of some cute little duckies in the lake behind our cabin. The little guy kept dipping its head in the water and shaking it out, like ducks do, and well, that's a little bit how we all felt, just being away for awhile.
It's discombobulating enough to come out of an animated science-fiction movie set seven or eight hundred years in the future into the brightness of the now. But to have that movie snap off mid-credits because a massive thunderstorm is rolling by, and to walk out into the generator-lit hallway with an alarm blaring and teenaged movie workers dashing around asking each other what to do, this is another thing altogether. It was, in two words, and to invoke my friend e!, cuckoo bananas.
JM and I were on a little date, and the plan had been to head to Luna, the fancy and tasty tapas place in Champaign. But alas, we did not make it there, because the storm that sparked pandemonium in the movie theater was about to do the same on Neil street, the main road that connects the movie theater to Luna.
Let's just say that yesterday I learned some things. First, flash floods: now I see what all the fuss is about. This shit is dangerous and it happens in minutes. Second, I respond well in a mini-crisis, or at least I did in this one. I became focused and deliberate and drove us off the flooding Neil street, sneaking past a stalling mazda, into the parking lot of a small business called i-power, a place that appears to sell nutrition supplements and whose workers were gawking at the street outside. At that point, for about a hundred-yard stretch of street, the water was rushing above car wheels and rising fast. JM was sweet and encouraging while I maneuvered the car. He is so g.d. awesome. (But I knew that.) I also learned that there is such a thing as "high ground" here in the flatlands. We snaked around the building next to the train tracks--this was higher ground, and then up into the furthest north-east parking space. Even higher.
Other cars kept driving through the water, each one creating a dirty wake, the shore the middle of a parking lot. Later when the water got even higher, SUV drivers charged through, fast enough (I swear) to pull a water-skier. And so the other thing I learned, though this shouldn't have surprised me, is that people can be really fucking stupid. Driving into water in a mid-sized sedan while construction cones are floating past? Not a good idea. When their engine dried out a little, the stalled mazda people tried to make it back out of the parking lot, only to reconsider and stall again, across two lanes of traffic. The woman parked next to us got out of her car and began obsessively flattening the median bushes with her sandal, presumably to clear the way to drive over all that concrete into the AAA parking lot, which was on even higher ground. When we got out of our car to peer down the street, a man in a black slicker asked us the best way to get to the other side of campus. Later, across the street at T.G.I. Friday's, where we rode out the storm, and dinner, we heard that a kid had to crawl out his back window. His car was still sitting there, askew, the water lapping his door handles.
May is a nice time around these parts. The bike trails are all muddy but still (somewhat) ridable, the vegetables and plants are growing apace with the weeds, grad students are either scattering or hunkering down, colleagues are in the midst of their in-town moves, I remain in denial about the impending out-of-town moves, neighbors are spontaneously gathering in driveways, and as June comes on the days open up like the prairie itself. I like that there is still daylight for our evening dog walks, and I like that there are lots of noisy-ass birds yakking it up in the early morning. I also like that I'm going to be around here until mid-July. Now that I've finally (just today) unpacked my suitcases, and now that it's nearly June, it's time to settle in to a laid-back routine.
JM and the dogs and I are headed to a cabin in southern Illinois for a few nights to hike and watch movies and just be away for a bit. I'm going to take some laptop work, but there won't be any internet connection, so without email the work will (hopefully) go quickly. Luckily, though, there's satellite tv, so we won't miss the season finale of The Office. Catch you on the weekend.
In the last chapter of my soon-to-be book I quote Burke in an interview saying "the
only cure for an idea is digging in the dirt." (And I also quoted that here at the end of last summer.) This morning I finished a last pass through my book manuscript, and then JM and I bought some topsoil at Blain's Farm and Fleet and put in a garden.
I'm going to ship off the manuscript on Monday, yay; next time I see it will be in the copyediting phase. The title will be Moving Bodies: Kenneth Burke at the Edges of Language. Here is the table of contents:
Acknowledgments Introduction: "An Excursion" 1. Bodies as Equipment for Moving (from Artist to Audience) 2.Burke’s Mystical Method 3. Burke on Drugs: Efficiency and the Valuation of Habits 4. From
the Rhetoric of Science to the Science of Rhetoric: The Case of Endocrinology 5.
‘Deviance’ as Inclination: Kretschmerian Constitutions and Bodily Occupations 6.
Body Language: Paget and Gesture-Speech Theory 7. Welcome
to the Beauty Clinic Conclusion:
Action in Motion
We did a modest garden with only our daily and weekly standbys because we'll be getting lots of veggies from the CSA and the farmers market. In the extra space and along the fence (away from the whippets), we sowed about 60 sq ft of wildflowers.
As Metaspencer mentions, and as I expect the now not-so-anonymous Oronte Churm might soon reveal, the University's spring break started today. Hooray! Even though I'm on sabbatical, I still feel this break, because email has trickled to a halt, and I also feel this spring, because it was a nice sunny day here. Somehow running a bunch of errands is easier without a big poofy coat.
Also the beginning of break corresponded with payday and a Friday, which means we stood in line at the bank. Later, post-grocery shopping, we decided that we wanted to enjoy the sunshine but our feet were too sore from running yesterday, so we hopped on our bikes and rode down to the pretty prairie park and threw frisbee and also played catch. And now we're going to make some fish curry and spicy cabbage. Tomorrow we're driving out to the CSA-farm to buy some eggs and some meat and generally to tour the countryside. We both have talks to write over break, but toward the end, we're going to reward ourselves by training to Chicago for some fun city time.
With tornadoes projected for south of us, and blizzards to the north of us, I suppose it makes sense that we are having the worst kind of blowy, whirly, snowy, mess. It's a neither-nor, but also kind of a both-and. A sucky middlin'.
Oh, and thanks to everyone for the well-wishes. The virus seems to have heeded my command (or more likely there was nothing left for it, so it moved on), and we're waiting to see if it takes the other human member of this household as its victim.