September 11, and the miracles are small
After the most humid summer in years, the weather broke instantly, and it got chilly. Cinderella was delighted because I am The Ice Man and anyone with the slightest degree of body heat may not come near me from June-September unless there is an a.c. unit blasting. But last night, it was cuddles and huggin'. I am the King of Love as long as the temp is down in the 50's. Bring it on.

I look at this blog and think nobody really reads it, so who cares what I say? Then we check the numbers and I'm abashed that lots of people seem to read it. Who are they? I not only don't know, but I don't know why bloggers like me write blogs. It is a community, though, isn't it. Those of you who talk to me--I feel like we gather at the drygoods store checker board of a morning and have a cup of coffee. Farmer Joe brings in some pumpkins, and Mrs. Wilson made those muffins again. So hello and good morning, Isabel and Jenny, White Eagle and Carlos the Warrior, Boston Cindy you hottie, and Prudencia, dear Frankie and Clarke and Grace and Janna. Hello, Jefito and Esteban and Juan Sanchez. What up, Poage and Olivas! Hello everybody! Good morning unknown friend, whoever you are, wherever you are.

It's our most haunted American day, again. And here we are having our chat. The day here is still cool--I walk Chayo to the school bus stop in shorts and a windbreaker. What's wrong with this picture? Still, I'm stylin' in my South Dakota baseball cap--bison and elk on it, my dear pals. Cup of coffee.

I'm actually up and out before my FBI neighbor gets rolling in his scary black government SUV. How Leave It to Beaver is that. Grumpy Dad sipping morning coffee among the various second graders on the corner, and we all pause to wave at the Friendly FBI Man, off to fight evil-doers and protect America. Or Deb, in her red mini-van, off to work. If we're lucky, the paranoiac turkey will creep out of whatever hedge he's hiding in and spy on us from the bushes, making his bizarre little turkey noises. He stalks around, looking fretful, like an undertaker in a dusty coat, wringing his hands.

And here's the silly detail that makes it all feel like grace and miracles: Annie, our cat, is ten years old, so she should know better. But she seems to think she's a dog. Chayo says, "Annie thinks I'm her kitten." And she walks us to the bus stop. I've never seen a cat walk a kid to school, but Annie does. Walks with us down the street, then crosses the street, then hangs out on the corner and watches Chayo get on the bus. Then Annie walks me home. What a freak!

I get so much delight out of the cat-walk that I can't stay cranky for long. If the turkey shows up, all the better. Chickadees and finches have been raising hell in the back yard. We seem to have inherited a hummingbird--something fairly rare in Naperville. If I were in Teresita-mode, I would see harbingers in it. But I'm in Ward Cleaver mode. So instead of levitating or seeing spirits, I say, "Isn't that swell!"

Didn't John Mellencamp say: "Ain't that America"?

This day of sorrowful memory and eternally falling people is crisp as an apple and clean. The hummingbird doesn't know what happened that day. The paperbark birch is white and somehow heart-rending in the morning light. My sunflower is taller than me, and tattered now since the wicked little bird-raiders have been attacking its face for seed. Blossoms everywhere. The garden is a riot of color, and the butterflies warm up with the sun and hit it, outracing the coming freeze.

So, here's what I do on a day like today. I will watch the memorial stuff on TV. Eat my daily oatmeal--are you watching your cholesterol? Are you eating your oatmeal and raisins? Then I'll read a couple of newspapers, as I do every morning. News junkie! Don't get between me and my bad news! I'll check CNN just to make sure nothing has slipped past me with The Today Show, Drudge, 27 websites and the papers! Then I'll A) hit the treadmill or B) go up to my li'l desk and start back in on Nayeli. In which case I'll force myself to hit the treadmill later.
Maybe. It takes a lot of forcing.

Nayeli's Seven is so far the best book I've written. No promises--just pound-for-pound more delightful, I think. Whether I can keep it up for the whole book remains to be seen. I'm happy writing it. I think you'll be happy reading it. Section One, of Three, is basically complete. I think I told you it's the Devil's Highway/Immigration Monday universe but with The Hummingbird's Daughter magic and humor. And butt-kicking women. Hey--chicks dig me, man. What can I say?

We are alive.

One of my high school classmates recently shot himself with a shotgun. All these trivial delights I am sharing with you feel sweeter and more sad in their joy because I see his face in the sky. No, we weren't close. One of those guys who you liked 35 years ago. A serious guy. A guy who treated you well, and then vanished. And then blew his own head off.

Peace be upon him.

Bless him.

I catch myself thinking, if only he could have been here this morning. If only he had read Basho. If only he had come to South Dakota with us and seen the thundering buffalo herd that swarmed around our van and rocked it with their astounding weight. If only....

We are alive.

This is--honest--the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it. We survive. You and I, we prevail.

Hug it out--

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