Sunday, August 25, 2002

Bugs, bugs. Today was about the bugs. Spiders mainly. Morning I was in Big Hill Park north of Beloit. I'm on call this weekend so had to, for the last time, go check at the police and fire department Saturday and had to get up right at 6A. But it was the last time, so I savored the sight of the fire department in early morn, pet the golden retriever mascot dog and even got into a howling duo with him, much to laughter and amusement of clean cut and infinitely more sane firefighter personnel cleaning an ambulance! I asked once why they didn't have a dalmation, and someone said dalmation's were a pain the ass to take care of.

Then it was back to downtown Beloit and the police department. Most of my memories there are bad. One morning got into an argument with an acting sergeant about not giving me information on a shooting. This acting sergeant tells me that he's not supposed to talk to the media and it's your problem all tight zip lipped arm crossed jingle when walking cop. You know, I got really nothing against cops, some are decent, but most have butch, bully attitudes. And they're militaristic. The uniform, badge symbols of power, the confusing lights, barked orders, domestic disputes, protectors of the peace, traffic stings, five cars pulled over for speeding at a time, drug charges against the destitute and addicted, good old boys network, necessary cogs in society maintaining the capitalistic machine. I felt no sense of reminiscence about not having to visit the Beloit PD again. Just got in my car and drove back to the paper.

After, it was on to South Beloit, where I read the Rockford Register Star over a big breakfast - Mary's Place Huge Breakfast -- all but-gusting two eggs, American fries, sausage patty and french toast. Then to Big Hill Park, where I had my first encounter of the day with bugs walking a grown over cross country trail on a hilly ridge above the Rock River. Cobwebs everywhere and I could hear them snap as I walked through. Had to brush my arms all the time and worried all city boy priss about spiders crawling on me. Fantasized getting bit by a brown recluse spider and my flesh rotting away, a bloody, sore crater growing ever larger. All my nightmares are dermatological.

I covered a workshop for Raising Successful Parents at a middle school in Beloit. I go there thinking I will walk into classrooms with couples hunkered over notebooks. Only a token male or two there. The rest women getting child care credits for day cares. As I know, married to a teacher, they must get 15 hours of "training" outside work to remain certified. Topics: Preparing your teen for work; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; financial management; and, of course, talking to your teen about sex. Typical lame-o boring Saturday story stuff. I did my reporter thing and left.

Jetted over to Clinton, WI, to cover Water Tower Days, one of only a jazillion festivals I have had the privilege of covering this summer. I interviewed Clinton Fire Chief and Town of Turtle Chief when they raced against each other in the soap box derby. Talked with a lady selling pies, and a member of the historical society in the shadow of the historic water tower, built 59 feet high with native limestone and in service for more than 90 years, 1896-1987. No cell phone equipment here, even though it's the highest point in town. Tour of historic homes and parade Sunday with no vehicles allowed. All that is cool.

I had fun, even though I had to coax and beg one of the pie ladies to talk to me. "Oh, why don't you talk to one of the kind men over there... He's in charge." Finally, when one agreed to talk, she took my notebook out of my hand and wrote her name down, and I look at it now, signature old women shaky hand but trained, well-formed letters. People don't write like this anymore, no emphasis on handwriting in the schools. A lost art. So, thank you JOAN R COEHOORN, for talking to me when the feeble-minded shy pie sales ladies for the Emmanuel Lutheran Church would not.

She said she would talk to me because she has experience with the media. When her son lived in Marquette, Mich., she was interviewed for a TV station by a friend of her son's when they attended a civil war reenactment. And I thought about that marker on the Appalachian Trail, someplace in Maryland, in dedication to a Michigan regiment that fought a battle there. I never knew soldiers from Michigan saw active duty in the Civil War. And then we talked about all the cool places in the UP to visit, and the places I've gone, like Lake Gogebic, the Porcupine Mountains, Keweenaw Peninsula. [I realize after exploring web sites that Lake Gogebic is the largest lake in the UP, the Porkies the largest wilderness area and Keweenaw Peninsula most northern destination. Guess I reach for extremes.]

I could live up there. Joan said only 300,000 people live in the entire UP. I believe. Lots of open spaces. Me and the old lady connected. I remember at one point she laughed, leaned, put her hands on my arm and gave me kind of a mini hug.

Then it was back home for a while, talked to Esther... MY old lady, all biker speak. We ended up at my parent's house as I napped in basement on two benadryl (my allergies were murder today) with Cubs game on. Cubs won, 4-0, over the team with the best record in baseball defending World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks, on a shutout by upcoming starter, Matt Clement, who closely resembles a trail buddy, Hollywood, a.k.a. Jeremy Hickey. The strangest things, like Michigan Civil War reenactments and Cubs' pitchers, bring me back. But so nice to zone the afternoon away, lazy cicada pollinated August Saturday.

Tonight more baseball as Esther and I go to Rockford Riverhawks home finale. They were giving away more stuff than usual because it was the last game. And it turned out to be a great game. Trailing, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, runners on first and third, DH Richard Austin down 0-2 hits a seeing eye single, his third hit of the night, between first and second to tie the game. Runners at first and second, the next batter Tony Pigott hits a bloop fly, but Dubois County Dragons first baseman Michael Peerman drops easy catch and winning run slides home for the come-from-behind victory. Fireworks afterwards. My favorites the loudest ones, the simple bright burst chest thumpers.

Under Marinelli Field lights a thick, teeming swarm. Spiders built tiny webs in the backstop netting. Enterprising buggers, and strong. On the way home from the game a spider hitched a ride on our windshield. Esther would announce when she hit 40 miles per hour, 45, 50, legs fully splayed arachnid holds strong. Esther and I clapped for it when we got home. The spider survived a journey far from its home. I have faith it will adjust. There's plenty bugs here.

No comments: