LEAVIN’ THE LIGHTS ON FOR YA
Why should I care anymore?
People have come and gone in and out of my life, and I’m still here, bidin’ my time, growin’ a little older day by day, watchin’ the grasses grow.
In my time the turnin’ of leaves on the trees and the four seasons that come and go, just like the people who visit me, have taught me patience. All good things sooner or later come to pass with patience, I’m sure of that.
Yep, I’m still here watchin’ the same ol’ sun rise and set; watchin’ right along with the mule deer, the moose, the snakes, the groundhogs and the antelope with their large, pointed racks.
Watchin’ and listenin’ and tellin’ my story to anyone that’ll listen — that’s my mission in my old age.
People from all kind of different places been visitin’ me over the years. They come for whatever reasons, but I don’t question their motives. I just bend an ear and learn, when I can understand the language that they’re speakin.’ My notion about it is a simple one: they arrived, so they must have had good reason to end up here. I reckon they’re entitled to their privacy. That’s all there is to it; I don’t need to be noseyin’ around in their business.
The elders, the bent-over ones, seek solace within me as they wait to die. The other day, when I asked how he was, one of them replied, “I’m still here” as he shrugged before he drifted off into a nap. The young ones seek… well, you know what the young ones are after. They come here lookin’ for maximum connection, if you catch my drift.
Most everybody, one way or another, just wants to carve out a little private time away for themselves, and usually I let ‘em have it from the git’go. Other times, I’ll peek inside their heads and then show ’em where to find the best place to lie down, or where’s the best view… and then mind my own beeswax by lookin’ the other way — no sense my addin’ my two-cent’s worth. Just let ’em do what they’re gonna to do, with or without me, is my policy.
I keep my trap shut about it, too.
I know some of them young couples in a few years are gonna return after they cobble together a family… mark my words. I’ve seen that happen more than once or twice. Probably ’cause it’s nice and quiet here, a peaceful sorta place.
Anyhow, people can recharge their batteries around me. I don’t intrude, and they don’t bother me…. kinda like it that way.
I’ve heard a lot of their dreams, too. People alone often talk to themselves and not just a few of ’em do it aloud. Maybe they sense I can keep a secret. I like to think that they know that, but only a rare few ever ask me about my hidden desires. People are funny like that. They’ll talk about their interests as long as they think someone will listen but they don’t often stop and ask me about mine. I’d tell ‘em, if they’d just ask.
I suppose I shouldn’t wonder why they should. To them, I’m probably just a tall glass of water with nothin’ to say. If only they knew what stories I could relate as they sit in front of my fireplace giving off warmth while they stare at the dancing embers!
You know what, though? My heart is a patient listener. I guess that’s why before and after every show they put up and take down their makeshift booths down on the avenue street-vendors keep comin’ back my way. (It’s not unusual in these parts that the avenue doubles as a venue on appointed weekends set for celebratin’ another new season). They return all charged up, anticipatin’ big sales and camaraderie — maybe just a little tomfoolery, too — among themselves and they come and see me – maybe for good luck, I guess – before the bargain-hunters swarm down on the town on Friday nights. Elated with their sales come Saturday night, the alcohol starts flowin’ and the dancin’ takes flight, and, before they know it, they’re wakin’ up hungover Sunday morning, tired and worn out by Sunday evenin’s pack up time.
No matter why they come or how long they stay, it’s all the same to me: people are just plain interestin’… and I’m just a local fixture ’round here.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m well-cared-for. Well-meanin’ locals and sometimes total strangers come by from time to time and they work on sprucin’ up my spirits. They prune up my rough edges and paint a brighter future on my face, lest in neglect I turn out like some old neighborly, broke-down garage — all morose and weathered.
Gettin’ back to my clientele…
For the special ones, those that want to stay awhile and sit and listen, I spin a few of my best yarns. My favorites are the ones about the fly fishermen observed from my vantage point overlookin’ the lazy Buffalo River windin’ its way like a multi-hued ribbon east of the Grand Tetons. Like me, they can do the same thing for hours and never be bored. Their moments of high excitement might last a few seconds or, at times, well over an hour, but their adventures are endlessly excitin’ to watch and even more excitin’ in the retellin’ when I see the faces of my audience light up.
I often mix up time frames to keep it interestin’ for them and for me; sometimes I reel it out like it’s at dusk, other times it’s at sunrise. Speakin’ softly, almost in a whisper, I let ’em get the feel for the soft-casted fly sailing on the wind speed in the invisible breezes; or the sharp cuts of the air temperature rises and drops. I like to get ’em sweatin’ and swattin’ at the bugs that aren’t even there, except in their imaginations. Oh boy, that’s so much FUN! Makin’ ‘em shiver and shake as they wait and watch for the next hatch to emerge off the water’s rippled surface is the appetizer before the entree of the catch — that gold-plated instant when the unseen quarry hits the unsuspectin’ imitation fly and flashes up out of the water, its wet rainbow of colors capturin’ a few glints off the sun. When my fish come, they come one right after the other in a flurry of rainbows, brownies and brookies… catch and release, catch and release, catch and release. And my listeners get so excited that their enthusiasm rubs off on me, and we both end up enjoyin’ the tall tales that seem so real in the moment.
Sadly, every good tale must come to an end in this life. The fury subsides as quietly as begun… kinda like the way that the moon rises in the East after the sun passes beyond the western mountaintops.
I must say, though, the smiles on their satisfied faces give me good feelin’s that are reward enough for an Old Victorian relic like me. Even as they stand up, sweep the dust off their fannies and step off my stairs, they wish me good fortune ’til the next time we meet. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that. Every time, they bring new light to the lingering life that’s left in me.
You can be sure I’ll keep my light on for them as long as I can. And I’ll keep my lights on for you, too. Hurry and come see me, ya hear?
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