Friday, July 15, 2011

A walk in the other direction

This evening my wife and I went for a walk outside the neighborhood. We often do, and usually direct our steps toward town to stroll down the one street of craft and antique shops that are already closed before dark. We'll walk past the dark soda shoppe and our new hometown's one bar; say hello to the people on the deck with their sweating pint glasses; steal an earful of local rock-a-billy or bluegrass that seems to follow us for blocks down the otherwise quiet, tree-lined streets.

But tonight we went in the opposite direction -- out from the neighborhood and away from town. It was surprising how quickly the landscape by the road became wilder. The populated lots started to have two structures instead of one: an older, overgrown house or shack that had obviously been abandoned for another, newer structure on the property -- a trailer or low cinderblock house. Some of them were home-y. Some of them were brooding and unfriendly.

The oddest one seemed like it should have been one of the abandoned structures. It was overgrown with vines, there were gaps in the walls and apparently no doors in the doorways. The original construction seemed to be somewhere between log cabin and wood-plank siding, though it was hard to tell. There was a large stone birdbath outside, a couple of rusty washing machines, four gleaming white toilets, all protected by a dense thicket of bottle-trees. But the house wasn't abandoned. From the doorway a man waved to us with his cigarette hand, and I'm pretty sure I saw an older woman inside making something in her lap. At least one tv flashed and chattered.

I thought this was leading to a haiku, but it seems I've already spilled all the details. I didn't know what bottle-trees were for but Margarite says they're for trapping evil spirits. You can hear them howl in the wind, she says.

And so many of them, so close to town...

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