A warm spell passed through New England this week. Indian summer? I’m not sure. It was warm, humid, and unsettled. Armies of Coccinellidae swarmed out of nowhere and made their way into the house; a ladybug infestation of Biblical proportions.
(And I might just add that there was nothing ladylike about them. Whether they’re called ladybugs, ladybirds, lady cows, or lady beetles, when one flies into your hair they’re gross. Pass me a fly swatter, quick.)
In spite of this, the spirit moved me to listen to an old recording of Bing Crosby and the Kraft Music Hall gang singing Adeste Fideles while I counted the number of windows and electrical outlets around the house, in preparation for the merriest of holidays.
I was also inspired to take more walks after hearing Reggie’s stern reprimand to “move it or lose it.”
Last night, in a break between rain showers, I headed out with the giant golf umbrella I had earned volunteering at a charity event. It’s obnoxiously protective, like a helicopter parent. I should probably take out a special endorsement on my homeowner’s policy just in case I poke someone’s eye out in my travels. I guess that’s what they mean by “umbrella coverage.”
(And I might just add that I don’t play golf and although I’m embarrassed by the intellectual weakness of my insurance pun, I will let it stand.)
I took my usual promenade, marching up the steep incline of Maple Street. When I got to the top of the hill, the rain pelted down with fury and I had no choice but to stand on the side of the road, near The Tomb. I was safe under the golf umbrella.
(And I might just add that although Reggie insists it’s a “crypt” and not a tomb, I like calling it “The Tomb.” It sounds better, poetic license and all.)
The rain let up and I ventured down the hill towards my Surprise Garden, then turned left on Summer Street and left on High Street. Having just spent a solid and fearless five minutes on one of the darkest roadsides in Lisbon Falls, it seemed fitting to cut through Hillside Cemetery.
(And I might just add that we never called it Hillside Cemetery when we were growing up. It was “High Hill.”)
I was making my way through the back side of the solemn grounds when all of a sudden there was a flash of light in the sky to my left and a low rumbling “POOM.” I wouldn’t have believed it if didn’t happen a second time shortly after the first.
After a week of non-stop EBOLA EBOLA EBOLA news, I must have been on edge. The sights and sounds, like a blown transformer, made me stop and grip my umbrella handle for just a moment while I composed myself. What was happening? Had I walked into the first chapter of a Stephen King novel?
Convincing myself that it was a welding torch inside a nearby auto body garage, I moved into the brighter parts of the cemetery and back out onto the road. My walk down High Street was uneventful, with the exception of seeing the bath-robed shadow of a former high school teacher calling in her cats.
(And I might just add that I was not able to confirm whether she was one of Stephen King’s high school English teachers, from the paucity of my late night text message fact checking.)
But “uneventful” is not quite true because as I walked down Addison Street towards the old high school, what should drive around the block before me but a town police cruiser. To protect and serve, the officer behind the wheel was flashing a high beam light across the field at the MTM Center.
(And I might just add that “MTM” stand for “Marion T. Morse.” I didn’t know Mrs. Morse personally, but I always thought she must have been quite a fine lady if my elementary school was named after her. And let’s not start any discussions about changing the name of the building just because no one remembers what MTM stands for in these braid-addled days of social media and acronyms.)
After all the commotion at the cemetery, it crossed my mind that there just might be a killer on the loose in Lisbon Falls and maybe I was walking right straight into the police dragnet. I stopped and waited until the Po Po had finished their sweep of the perimeter and then hustled past the old high school and up Berry Avenue.
(And I might just add that the Lisbon Police Department has always had the finest police cruisers tax dollars could buy. These days, due to the sad demise of the Crown Victoria, they’re chasing criminals, scofflaws, and speeders in beefy little SUVs or crossover vehicles. But they’ve always been on the cutting edge. Except for the Volvo sedan cruisers back in the 1980’s, but I digress.)
Before I knew it I was on Pleasant Street and the rain had picked up again. No one would be the wiser if I just slipped into Uncle Bob’s barn for a few minutes. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the familiar outlines in their time-worn places. Uncle Bob’s lawn mower and his bicycle, and the garden cultivator that once belonged to Dave Moulton’s grandfather. Other tools hung like silent sentries, guarding the past.
(And I might just add that it’s highly probable Uncle Bob will know I was in the barn. Some tiny speck of dirt will be out of place or my dripping umbrella will have dampened his bicycle seat. The next time I see him, he’ll say “JOO-lie, were you in the barn the other night?”)
Sadly, I’ve got nothing to add to THAT.
Practically skipping down Plummer Street, I paused at Margaret’s house. I miss Margaret. I’ve meant to be a good neighbor and introduce myself to the new owner, but the time and the spirit never seem quite right. A few more spins of der Bingle in the old Kraft Music Hall and I’ll be ready.
I made it home and safely stuck that big old golf umbrella on my screen porch for the evening. Thanks for walking around town with me. I don’t mean to rush off and leave you wondering what will happen next but it’s another day and I’ve got to make the donuts.