Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quiet Day.

Upper sixties, and reaching for the low seventies. Warm in the sun. A breeze. The sure smell of fall. A few leaves starting to accumulate along the curbs. Two big ripe tomatoes on the vine, and dozens of ripe heirloom cherry tomatoes right next to them. The daycare kids shrieking in their secret language.

And no hum.

It'll be back, surely. Let's not make any broad proclamation. Let's not say anything, in fact, except that the kitchen window is wide open to the briefly perfect world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

After Equinox.

The thing is, all these months, I thought the hum was the train. Now it turns out the hum is the hum. When I thought the hum was the train, I was fine. Now that it's the hum, I'm not.

The mind is a terrible mess.

Fleece hat the only thing between me and crazy.

Fall, in earnest.

At least the dog's pleased with the world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Like It.

Sixty-two and not yet midnight. A violent, violent storm out puppet-showward, but as I was there and not here, all I can say for here is that trash cans were on their sides and plants knocked down. Leaves in the streets if not limbs. Mid-eighties by mid-afternoon, and now there's the damn-for-sure certainty of long sleeves and a hat on the morning dogwalk. I always forget how sharply the season changes. We'll snap back warm again, surely, but what's out there now smacks of tea, of layers, of chili, of the good seasonal beer, of actual October right here on the eve of October. Been so long since we had the month's weather we were owed that I'm not sure what to make of all this. But for the godforsaken hum humming on, we'd be in paradise.

I know how the dog will be come morning, remember so well turning the corner off the gravel alley over near Carr Street ten years ago, turning her into the wind and knowing certainly of the wildness in her, that coyote gait coming full to the surface, her head high and sniffing hard into what's coming, that prance, that sureness that this is her season. Is that too much? That's too much. Put another way: I can feel now the tug of the fall vacation, the cabin, the tree farm, the state park, the dog, the wood stove. If the dog's at all like me she feels it all year long like I do, gets those genes reset every September or October. These are the first days of fall, says Stephen Dobyns. Scroll down, interneters, and hear the poem for yourself. Or don't. Go outside, hum or no, stand on the front porch, sniff what you haven't sniffed since June set in, or May. Here, then, yes and please and thank you, is a cold front. Here is a change in the weather.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Do.

Greenville, South Carolina, city of cemeteries, city of tree-lined Main Street like you'd cued it out of central casting or some bad book, city of rain, city of wedding pictures right there out the window of this hotel room in what I think we have to call an atrium: friends, our hotel arrives fresh from 1986, a kind of triangle looking in on what would be a courtyard if not for the roof. We did this in the eighties, which is to say, faked the outside inside. Think of CNN Center in Atlanta, or any named center in any city of your youth. 3,000 indoor plants in concrete bunkers. Bricks shellacked until they shine. An open-air indoor restaurant, that most excellent of oxymorons. The glass elevators are their own wayback machine. The tiles in the shower are almost certainly, in all their bruise-colored glory, original. But: your local forecaster has arrived unscathed, the sheets are crisp, the floor is clean, the room is nearly quiet, the people are friendly. Are you here for the show? they ask you in the elevator. In all ways, the answer is yes, and yes: any time I'm anywhere, I'm pretty much there for the show.

Rain and rain, and more rain coming. All this rain looks to be aiming back 27401wards, too, so do buckle down back home, please. Shake the sump pump. Tighten the windows down. Roll the car windows up, put the ferns out in it, think about maybe making chili. Don't leave the house in your good shoes.

The wedding's started and finished since I sat down to explain about the weather. The bride's seven stories below me, a glass of wine in each hand. Tiny pink flower girls are going batshit over the echo out there. Salud.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wind Shifted.

Dog, ears half back and face pointed full into a damp easterly breeze: as much a barometer as we need around these parts, and enough to make certain the belated declaration that there does seem on this Friday evening to be some kind of weather riding in. This morning and this noon gave us a warm drizzle, a kind of springtime, bring-on-the-food-crops kind of feel, but this evening smells of something different. This evening smells like fall, like dog. Like sitting out on the porch, which is what we're doing here in the 68 degrees and gray, AMR sticking her head from time to time out the front door to bluster and bleed and generally make with the sadness about the change in temp, the shift in the wind. AMR is of the tank-top persuasion. The dog and I, we tend towards jeans and boots. And sniffing. And thinking that the days of fleece caps cannot be so far over the horizon that we can't see them. Nothing before its time—give me this season over the not-season—but all the dog and I are saying is, yes, please: this. And then that.

Every time I look up and over at the dog, she looks dead back at me, wondering why we're here, and not five blocks leashward. It's a fair question. I could say more about what all this is, which is some measure of peaceful, the breeze in the drying leaves just enough to cover over the hum, the cool in the air almost enough to cover over everything else—but simpler things are owed. Dog. Leash. It's the end of the week. Another one's coming, and this time with another weather.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scattered Showers.

Drizzling out at the puppet show. Pouring out by what will be the loop, if they can ever get the ends to meet. Here: humid. Still. Noisy. Rain overnight, but not since. Dogwood out front making red berries. Dogwoods all up and down the street, healthy and not, showing color. Sun low enough back behind the house to where the petunias don't have much bloom left in them. Sentence fragments. The hum. That kind of thing.

Hum theory #3,657: it's been there for months, but we've only noticed since the cicadas packed it in.

It's an odd sky out there. September is a damn strange month.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Ends.

Seen yesterday, on 70, out nearer to J. Crew U. than to here, but just barely in Guilford County, one presumes, all the same: the Eastern Guilford High School marching band and flag corps, resplendent and in full uniform, performing out front of Bojangles, right up against the highway. On the highway side of the split-rail fence, that is, and not the Bojangles side. There were balloons. There was a banner. I had the windows down, but couldn't quite hear—the truck was a little oil-thirsty and was making a bit of a metal-on-metal sound. That's now resolved, but I was sadly unable to hear the metal-on-metal of the EGHS Marching Whatevers.

Every time I see a kid standing in the heat of the sun wearing a hat with a giant fake feather in it, it brings back memories.

Had the police out yesterday to investigate the hum. "Yeah, I hear it," the officer said. We stood there on my back porch. He was shiny—shiny shoes, shiny glasses, shiny pistol, shiny stick to hit me with, shiny pad on which he made a note or two about the hum. And the hum called me back yesterday morning, too: they also can hear it, will get somebody on it "as soon as they can." Which I expect means sometime during the next election cycle. Which I expect means I shall soon be in need of shoving my head into the spinning blades of the mower in order to dehum my interior landscape.

Imagine the dog barking while I was trying to explain to the officer about my noise complaint.

Cloudy. The weather's of late been trying to make us believe it's time for flannel. It is not. But today is the autumnal equinox, so, you know, thanks, summer, for stopping by. It was good to see you. We should do this more often. Call us when you get home to let us know you made it safely, OK? Take care. Tell everybody we said hello.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ambient Noise.

The hum hums on.

So too do the clouds, though, which is nice—fiftyteen days without rain will get to you after a while. Probably out to take one more spin through the tomato vines out there, see if we have any late-late season strivers coloring up. Gonna have to fire up the lawn mower once or twice more here as we spin towards autumn. And that'll be nice: no chance of hearing the hum over the top of the mower. Which is what it comes to, friends and fans of looming institutionalization: if I can have a hum of my own making, I'm better off. Crank down that A/C. Grin a little when the icemaker bumps itself awake. Turn the little fan on low out back. Cover the hum with a hum of one's own.

Gray. Warmish. Humid as a bowl of water.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little Hum.

Here is how to know from whence the hum originates:

Leash up the dog. Take AMR, who knows for sure what kind of crazy you're carrying now, with you. Walk your walking party seven blocks humwards, ever surer that you're right, that this is the universe socking you one straight in the mouth. Be right. Stand in the shadow of the highrise private dorm, certain source of the hum. Listen to the hum. Demand of AMR that she tell you you're not crazy, that she say the hum is the hum.

But ah, friends and fans of wandering the stage, here's the rub: so you find the hum. So you get the hum peer-reviewed. So the hum is the hum. So the source is identified; is, if you will, sourced. Then the fuck what? Here: I know: call the hum. Call it on the phone. You've already done it once this week, drawn a deeply stoned young man on the other end of the phone: there's a hum, you say. Oh, man, what? he says. The hum hums on. This time on the other end of the phone is Ashley, ever eager to help, but just as with the marijuanaed gentleman earlier in the week, Ashley has no idea of what you speak, has not heard the hum, even though not hearing the hum would be much akin to not hearing a squadron of horse-drawn Sikorskys land on the roof. The hum, you say. I'll check on it, she says.

Sometimes you get very quiet inside the house just to make sure you can still hear the hum. This is what kind of crazy we're cashing here. The hum. The hum. What now?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rattle And.

I feel almost certain that it rained. Outside of that, and outside of a pervasive industrial hum that seems to have set in here in the neighborhood, I'm not altogether sure what to tell you. There is the hum. There is the rain. There were what almost had to be the second- or third-to-last tomatoes of the season. There is baseball not on mute, as per the hum, which is audible both outside and inside the closed-down house. I'm perfect for this. I love nothing more than a continual low-level noise. Get me that, and somebody to wake me up every twenty minutes, or to cut the coffee pot off half an hour before I wake up, and I'm golden.

I could quit my job. I could move to Manitoba. I could leash the dog up and walk off into the rain. We'd aim away from the hum. I'll tell you that right now. We'd make camp where there was no more hum.

Which is all I finally need—to make camp where there is no more hum. I grew up Episcopalian. If I were working through the Prayers of the People right now, that'd be my prayer. To remove from thy people the neighborhood hum. Lord, hear our prayer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fifteen Days.

We want to rain. We're trying to rain. It's raining out west. It's cloudy here. Will it rain? Probably not. If it does, will we deserve it? Depends on what you mean by please, please, please, please, please.

ANYLF backyard evening activity: removal of probably 1500 pounds of dirt. Shocking bonus: downhill neighbor said I could remove over the fence and into her yard. She wants the soil. What this means to you, Weatherheads: damn near nothing, except we here at 27401 WorldWeatherHQ have checked at least one box on the way to OutbuildingReno 2009/10. Said box? Make ground slope away from building, where possible. Check. Coming soon to a blog near you: more talk of sheathing and PVCBoard and Tyvek and caulk than anyone could ever, ever want. But ratings season is coming up. Sweeps week. We have to compete. It's Tropical Update time, by god, and we've had precious few landfalling systems. We have to do something. Ratings are down. Innovation is nigh. Technology is in the classroom. Change is in the air. Freedom shall never die.

Nearly hot. Nearly raining. Nearly fall.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fourteen Days.

What I can tell you is that the light's lower, the evening comes on sooner, the air's drier. The color of the sunshine is sliding across the spectrum from that midsummer sandblasted white to the viscous yellow I always miss so badly, welcome back so readily—the color that tricks you, if you're sitting at your kitchen table, into believing that the temperature out there will be something entirely other than what it is, which is hotter than you'd expect, a kind of almost-summer, a placeholder. We remain firmly anchored to the not-season. Even the birds seem confused.

The fancies say change arrives bearing clouds and rain and cooler temps by midweek, but I'm having trouble signing up for any new religion right now—we've sacrificed all the goats and virgins in this village, and it's still been fourteen days since it rained. Two weeks. An actual fortnight. You might say it's time to switch over, chant at the golden calf a little, howl at the moon, but I say: let's not piss the lesser gods off any more than we already have. Do you want another fourteen days? You do not. You've done everything you know how to do, so just hold tight and wait it out—let the corn go to seed in the fields, toss the cup of bones on the ground and read from it what you will, but when the rain comes later on, if it does ever come, just say thank you, and trust in the knowledge that it was that last virginal goat you tossed over the edge into the fiery caldera that did it, and it just took a few days for your account to get credited, is all.

Warm, they're calling this on the radio. Warm. If the NPR person tells me one more time that I can get a new whatever kind of chair in its new color, True Black, at, and that it's going to be warm tomorrow—if she says that one more time, I may pilot the truck into a tree. It will never rain again. Every day for the rest of our lives is going to be this day. To dust we shall return.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Altogether Unmoored.

This is the not-season: not hot, not wet, not cold, not fall, not summer. The cherry tomatoes are yielding all at once, one last time. The grass is crispy as a doormat. It hasn't rained this month. The dog has had not-arthritis, but is coming through—thanks, crazy dog pain pills made from New Zealand mussels. This is the full event, mitigated. Which is how the weather is. I always forget this season, maybe because it is not a season. We'll have something for you soon, surely. But not now. Not yet. Not tonight.

It does not even feel like tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dry Days.

I think it's trying to rain, but it's been so long since it's done it I can't really trust my trick knee or my under-tabled dog or the radar that has rain on it or the funky breeze or the maple leaves inside-out.

This is not a forecast. This is something else.

In The-Kindness-Of-Strangers-News, on coming back up the hill from the dogwalk, I noticed a guy peering intently at his lawn-service van, then down the hill at me, then back at his van. When the dog and I got close enough, the guy said, "Hey, man, I'nt know if I'd come by this way. Think I drove over a yellowjacket nest when I parked here." Sure enough: many, many bees, and all of them very, very angry at the van. The dog and I crossed the street. The guy kept watching the bees attack his van. He looked not so much afraid or nervous as just fascinated by the whole thing, amazed at what he'd done. Here's hoping he didn't get stung. Here's hoping he got that lawn mowed. Here's hoping all those bees went back to whatever they were doing before they got parked on.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Holiday Monday.

We're trying—though not very hard—to pull some kind of tropical storm together off our coast. Clouds coming in all day from the wrong side. Cool breeze. Gentle September. Dry as a sheet of sandpaper, but gentle so far.

School rolls on. Around here we're starting to consider, in earnest, plans for a wholesale renovation of the outbuilding. We're polling the interns to see what they think. Top of the list: how to renovate the thing and keep it weatherproofed and mainly usable all at the same time. Second: how not to spend all the money there is.

I feel like maybe I might be starting to try to drag my ass out from underneath something heavy. There is no doubt that main portions of the outbuilding are rotten. How to reconcile those two items is what to do with the coming weeks.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer's Over.

What happens with back-to-school: it's like a little breakup, like that first easier one in high school, maybe college, the one where you actually knew it had to happen, but you mourned it all the same. It's not a full-bore tragedy. This is not you afraid even to be seen in third period pre-calc. This is both of you at least for now pretending that you'll be friends, you still sorry for her because her dad's crazy, still a little hot for her, just like you always were, so Friday'll be difficult—that's the day when all the drill-teamers wear their uniforms to school, just like everybody else involved with the football game. Cheerleaders, drill team, football players, and, oh, yeah, pep band, of which you are a card-carrying member. You'd busted the natural order of things—as a rule, it isn't so much that drill team and pep band don't mix, though they tend not to, but that's not quite the point. This was an unlikely pairing at best: she's tall, long-legged, shiny-haired. You're you, so picture the big square gold glasses, the baseball cap not so much worn backwards as mounted in those beautiful curls you weren't allowed to cut the hell off until much later, in graduate school, plus the chin you couldn't yet (and really still can't) grow enough beard to cover up. That was the two of you in her cream-colored 1968 Mustang last weekend, talking, actually talking, you realizing she wasn't quite sporting the full complement of sanity, her telling you she knew it, that she couldn't date anybody, pep band or no. Two weeks later she'd be dating a running back, and that was OK, because you'd find a saxophone player, and she'd be the one to do you real damage, anyway, later on—

Losing summer is like that. You know you can't have summer all fall long. You know you like fall better, actually. But that first Friday—that first Friday is a little tough. The drill team comes to school in its full uniform, the shiny sequined tops, the tiny, tiny skirts. This is difficult on you. You're a fifteen-year-old boy. This is not a creature which does well in the face of sequins and skirts. This is not a creature which does well, even if he knows better, with the loss of summer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Unearned Run.

I think our little interstitial fall is coming to an end—the fancies are saying mid-eighties or worse for the weekend—but too early yet to register complaint, to say anything other than how lovely these few days have been—and the prospect of seventies again by midweek next week makes it feel like we need only survive these weekend days, remember that the first weekend of college football is meant to smell like fall, look like fall, but require air conditioning all the same—

The window's open here next to me; the Braves, though ninth-inning losers tonight, are prolonging hope well beyond where they should; school's in and I'm not yet dead; I've had three consecutive evenings of the autumn dog on the porch, squinting into the breeze; I'm the happy wearer of bluejeans; there are enough green tomatoes yet on the vine to make the prospect of mid-eighties seem almost palatable—

The cicadas have mainly quit. We had those deep fall crickets going before six p.m. tonight. They're still going now. Maybe the cicadas will crank back up this weekend—we can be all but sure they will—but it damn sure seems like we're trying to change over even in spite of the warming forecast. Long sleeves. Truck with all the windows down. This is like when you were a kid and started celebrating your birthday weeks out in front of when it actually was.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Too Nice.

I mean, come on. This is back-to-school? This I can do. This feels human, somehow, feels not like the universe is pressing down from every edge but rather like it is what it is, which is seventy-some degrees and breezy‚ truly breezy, fall breezy, a little sweet taste of autumn right here to start the year. Not quite as cool as the fancies said it would be, but to complain on a day like today is to send back the wrong plate of food, friends. Take what you got. Enjoy. Savor, even.

The joy that is a windows-down ride in weather like this in JLT's rattleshake pickup: enough even to make the out leg of the out-and-back feel like something I could have done all day long. And now, once my lawn-chaired office hours wind their way through the next fifteen minutes, the back leg, the one that carries us back dog and porchward, is what's left of what was an easy day, a day I can tell right now, before it's even through, was way, way more than I deserved. This is not quite guilt. Too brightly colored for that. But it's something.

Go outside, friends and fans of weather. Go the hell outside.