Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tiny Fire.

It's blisteringly cold out there, a two-hat dogwalk, cloudless, sky the same color blue all the way down to the edges. The squirrels are screaming at each other, the crows are down in the yards, and, inexplicably, there are seagulls working their way through the skies here in 27408. The light off their white underbellies was so bright that when I saw the first one I thought it was a plane.

The crazy man down the street was out, wearing layers: boxers over the top of his sweatpants. He was leaning on his recycling bin and talking to a guy who was loading cases of Apple Jacks into the back of a minivan. Two houses down, there was an open house— balloons on the corner, balloons in the yard, color brochure explaining all about the square footage and the hardwoods and the school district. Turnout looked a little shoddy.

In smoke-'em-if-you-got-'em news, everybody in the neighborhood is burning fires, me included, if accidentally: the big heater out back burned its plug this morning, and in an odd coincidence, I was actually writing about an electrical fire at the time, trying to get down just how one would smell. Acrid does not quite do it justice. Light a pile of hair and saran wrap and a bike tire and one of those rectangular plastic divided lunch-counter plates on fire, and you'll about have it. It gave me a good project for the afternoon, though. Now we've got a spanking new plug. Wired it myself. I did not die. Always good to have a project and survive it.

Depending on who you want to ask, we'll bottom out tonight somewhere between 15 and 11. I don't know where the hell the seagulls go to hide out from that kind of weather. The animals around here have been a little weird since last night, sleeping more, sleeping smaller, sleeping closer to wherever I am, sleeping closer to each other. If something were to happen, I guess — if the heater were to burn a plug, say — we'd all be right here together, ready for whatever was coming next.

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