Thursday, January 09, 2003

Today? Just another gray Thursday in January. When I walked from my car to the school this morning I noticed a tall, old pine, over the squalorous rooftops around. And I thought how this pine was there when my grandparents lived in that neighborhood. And how there are two houses within sight of the school all broken-windowed and plastered with pink condemned signs. And the carbon creature diamond possibility school kids, as yet unjaded, unscarred, ungnarled, uneaten by the 'hood' that surrounds them. The kids are all bright and shiny, crooked, too-large teeth, crazy energy and vitality. How do they compare to the stories-high pine blowing in the breeze? Can they too rise above the high rise projects that beget them? Can they find root and sustenance in their environment? And then I remember the grim truth of nature. The pine is a survivor, a lonely sentinel. So many others have fallen to disease, ax or weather. So, too, these children. Few will soar. Most will wilt in the shade of the tenement.

I had a dentist appointment today. Just a routine cleaning. Coincidentally, my friend Shawn (Goat) had a cleaning today at almost the same time at a different dentist across town. Amazing how much tartar she scraped off my teeth, yellow and blood colored gobs on a cotton swab. Ahh, much cleaner. But my smile's no whiter. Dentist gave a look-see, said Looks Good, and sent me on my way. Woo-hoo. Six more months of cavity-free bliss. Last year I spent almost $2,000 on my mouth. You can be darn-diddley sure I floss daily. Thinking about getting one of those sonic-care toothbrushes. Anything to avoid another root canal.

The Black River is so named because of the tea-colored tannin of its waters. And when seen in winter with white all around, it really lives up to its namesake. The gorge is so-named because it's super steep and about 200 feet deep. Dave and I got off the North Country Trail and had to bushwack back up to the top of the ridgeline. Quite the trudge. The marked trail leads to wooden stairs that descend to platforms overlooking the waterfalls. At one spot climbers with ice axes and crampons attempted to work their way up a 50 feet tall wall of ice. Dave, with his experts' knowledge of rock climbing, critiqued their performance. I'd get into climbing if it wasn't so gear intensive and reliant on upper body strength. Legs, uber-strong. Arms and chest, mere mortal. Rainbow Falls, the biggest of the entire weekend, was also the last. Most of its flow is obscured by stalactites and stalagmites of ice. The sun came out and I looked for the mist from which the falls got their name. No luck. Had a little Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle moment as I watched the doplets dance and bounce. White noise. Zen reflection. Ahhhhhhhmmmmm.

I remember the bathroom at Rock Cut Elementary School, and how in the winter the pink liquid soap in the dispenser dried my hands out and made them crack. I remember how the water cascaded down the urinals in timed sequences, and the cavernous drip-drip in the basin above the porcelain rows. The teacher took us all to the bathroom at the same time, and I remember how nervous I got if I didn't have to go, knowing it would be my last chance for a few hours.

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