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at’s It c 911 r About? would look about him and say, My God, yes . . . yes, of course: this is heaven, isn’t it? and, smiling, he would walk on beneath the trees, looking here and there, hungrily. I have with me a clipboard, pencil, paper. I am sitting on an old chair beneath five small elms that make a nice canopy of green. It is the long moment after sundown. I am in the back lot where the garden used to be. My son is batting dirt clods with a stick. The sheep is nosing through islands of grass that are smooth from her daily grazing. Pigeons walk nearby on another stretch of grass. . . . Seven-thirty on a June afternoon. All cells are in equilibrium, all pulses are serenely beating. The sheep, my son, the pigeons, the neighbors’ quiet yards: we are in the calm eye of creation’s daily hurricane. Thus I can say, in this green-leaf cave: I am totally, consciously alive, and I have no wants. There are no mountains to climb, no metaphysical puzzles to solve. Whatever is absolute is here before my eyes, in my back yard, in this ordinary moment before dark. Creation is this time-and-place invisible as the roots of trees, relentless as a dirt clod falling. -I was high in a back yard tree, pruning dead limbs, when I looked down through the summer leaves and saw the wild run of eight-, ‘nine-, ten-year-olds: my son and his neighborhood friends were scattering through gates and across the clat Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks, Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. Ihe Old Pecw St 116111, Austin, Texas 310 East 6th St. tering tin roof of the chicken house, leaving the girl who was It covering her eyes and patiently counting to 50 by the coffee-can base. I watched the game, then looked further at the day through the shifting limbs and leaves. Next to the back yard sack swing a neighbor girl with yellow hair, almost three, was meeting Junior, our yellow cat. Not much bigger than the cat, she let him bump her leg, retreat, lower his head and softly nudge her again. She reached out tentatively to touch him, then pulled back. Junior continued to rub against her first his tail, then his head, then his whole body, touching, retreating, touching again. The yellow-haired girl and the big yellow cat: they met with a friendly caution under the elms. Here they come, the people of my home town, passing my parked car on their way to the post office. Steadily, one by one, they move along the sidewalk in front of Schreiner’s Dry Goods Store, in front of the old Masonic Lodge, under the limbs of the winter pecan trees. They greet one another in passing, they walk in ones and twos, they go past my car and in a few moments return. Women in coats and red wool scarves around their head, ranchers in boots, young men from the meat market in their white aprons, savings-and-loan men in suits. Small, brisk-walking, longserving men in glasses from J. C. Penney’s. Big, lone women who limp. They are going to the post office on the 27th of December. Still doing what is necessary in their lives. Walking past my car, not looking in, not looking up, not seeing the pecan limbs over their heads nor the traffic down the street. Christmas over, New Year’s still to come; everyone somewhat subdued. Going along the sidewalk, as people do. Going to the post office at eleven in the morning under a gray sky. At four o’clock during December Central Texas lies deeply contented in the sun. Weeds are winter-brown, but they are pleasant in the sunlight. Houses are old, in need of paint, and yards are bare, but in the sun they too sit content as turtles. The land is full of trees, long afternoon shadows, distant smoke. After the sun goes down the wind moves through clumps of shinoaks; an airplane heads home beneath low, cold layers of clouds; armadillos crawl into their holes beneath stumps and leaves;.. deer move along fencelines unseen. The stillness of the universe coMesii down, settles over the hills. A winten privateness spreads among many quietly_ living cedars and oaks. Trees and silence cover the land. I suddenly realize that I don’t see them any more: scabs. It used to be that someone was always picking at a scab on his arm or hand, prying up the edge of it, pulling it off too soon, scratching it. Scabs were as common as grassburrs. Where have they all gone? Don’t we bump into things anymore in the ’80s? Do we not bleed? And fishing poles, lying on the dusty two-by-fours in the top part of a garage. That was a sensible, handy place for them up there out of the way on those shadowy boards. Months would pass when no one even thought of fishing; then on some Saturday or Fourth of July the urge was sudden and real and you would dig worms in the chicken lot and put them in the dirt-filled coffee can and go to the garage and look up and there they were: the three long cane poles, the lines still neatly spiraled down the length of the poles, the hook still in the cork. They were the family poles in readiness, waiting in upper-garage gloom for their yearly outing on the Guadalupe; Ikar. -n rmra T’ 77 is . sta Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 Sufi THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17 111111111110111111111111W _..rearimeseai