Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minor Amusements

Located between two villages approximately 6 miles apart, I  choose to turn left off our lane for the KwikStop.  The parking lot is spacious with off-site parking for semi-trailers.  Inside they have a walk-in cooler and more importantly, a soda machine.  The 32 ounce cup costs me under a buck if I steal pennies from the discard tray next to the register.  Pasted on the cash register is a sign apologizing to would be thieves:

"We're sorry, but we no longer carry large amounts of cash."

Being a country store with loathsome security measures, employees frequently go behind the register during business hours to open an imposing looking safe for rolls of change and wads of bills. As a former store-keep, I notice things like that.  Would-be thieves of the variety that are smarter than ones who steal the police car for their getaway vehicle, would also notice the safe.  They'd also see the small cubicle in the back of the convenience store with a plexi-glass enclosure around the manager's desk, another cash cow. Then, they post pictures copied from the video surveillance camera of drive-aways.  It's a small town.  They probably know when I forget to wear me knickers.

The furry kid and I rush off for the library in the other direction.  My book, Death of a Bore, is due today.  The library closes for lunch between 12:30 and 1 pm.  I've 16 minutes to drive the two miles past Kettner's Cabins advertising, "camping, hiking, fishing, biking, canoeing", past the high school with manicured grounds and a natural prairie complete with Indian Tee-Pee. I turn right on the highway into the village where I check the used cars parked in the field on the Horse and Colt show-grounds next to Jerry's Repair Service.   Once there were three grocery stores in town.  Now, there's a food co-op that's never open with bay leaves in the flour bins to ward off bugs, an electrician's headquarters in what looks like an appliance store with windows loaded with antlers, a cafe that's up for sale, the post office and Indigo Thrift Store side by side and  another convenience store.  I visit this one in emergencies because there's only room for two lanes of cars getting gas.  If you pull up too far, you'll be in the street.

On the way to the library I notice the chain link fence gate to the cemetery is open. The cemetery for Kickapoo Center is one place folks a century and half ago put big thought into the location.  It's on a rise,overlooking a pasture that doubles as a wide expanse of flood plain.  I imagine the thought of a loved one's casket floating down the river like our woodpile is more obnoxious than having a house, post office, store or church destroyed.

At the library I have enough time to check out Willa Cather's, O Pioneers ( life in Nebraska) and Deborah Digge's, Fugitive Spring, a memoir of living in Missouri in the 1950's and 1960's before the librarian turns off the open sign and locks the door. On the way back I park next to the open gate and walk into the cemetery. 

On TV, they'd have a commercial break here. 

Mooch ( a new nickname) the cat comes in and brushes against my leg.  He's sopping wet.  I propped the back door open so the kids can come and go without bothering me.  It kinda cold out. 48 degrees cold. The heat's on. My pointy finger is numb( the one with carpal tunnel) as I pound the keyboard. Wet fur isn't pleasant, unlike the lyrics to one of Marge Piercy's erotic poems. Both animals enjoy the attention of being toweled-off with a dry, clean terry towel.  The cat decides the weather's turned to shit and stretches out on the back of the couch. Mandy long ago decided for warm and fuzzy with a breakfast of leftover cast iron fried potatoes with ham and cheese loaf.  The goof eats all the ham and scatters the potatoes on the floor.  It's OK because the food bank potatoes with the label proudly proclaiming the profits go to children's hospitals taste like cardboard compared to my Kennebecs.

So, I'm in the graveyard.  Smack dab in the center is a huge pine tree.  I'd call it a loboly pine although I think they grow south of here away from the Arctic Circle.  Thing is, the pine has to be the first tree planted in the graveyard.  It has huge, really large arms hovering over the grave below.  Like a giant MOM protecting her babies. Many of the grave markers are simple tablets, leaning or flat on the ground.  The inscriptions are illegible.  The older obelisk-like small monuments are covered with mustard colored lichen. They too are unreadable.  In the far back of the cemetery I find Robert Wilson's grave stone.  Born 1802,died 1880.  I trace the letters like a blind person reading braille to make sure it's him. I offer him a silent greeting since I'm the only resident, besides Dawn, who's carried on recognition of the forgotten Town of Kickapoo Center. Mr. Wilson was the first postmaster, ardent Democrat and hotel owner If you'd like to know more, read here:town of Kickapoo History. The Barres' family must have pissed off somebody in Kickapoo Center to have located their burial plots in the corn field behind my neighbor's house. Right in front near the gate is a new stone. The family name is prominernt over the top.  The image of a whitetail deer is carved over the man's name. It lists only his birth date-1945.  A flower adorns the name of the woman, born in 1948, died in 2004. Aha.  That 'splains the drunk up on the hill who used to own The Corner Bar.  Floyd, the owner of the Corner Bar was independently wealthy yet cleaned his own toilets.  He killed himself with muriactic acid fumes cleaning the urinal in the bar.

I must go to pick up a part for my riding lawn mower.  Next time I'll explain this building and how it figures into a mind numbing process of turning old church windows into a greenhouse.

..And thanks Mom...  For thinking of me on this day.

1 comment:

okjimm said...

Hey, if you are looking for a nice read.. try William Maxwell... wrote a ton of short stories and what he called "improvisations" which are really really short stories... might have to try inter-library loan... but worth the effort.. just saying.