Sunday, October 16, 2016

on the trail of the prickly pickle pod, dreaming a big fat baby, luffa!, and a return to radio

The next time I went to my new spot along the river I took the camera for close-ups of the prickly pickle pods.

Here is one. There is another on the jigsaw puzzle page.

I thought of snipping one off the vine to take to the local DNR office for identification, like I did one time with that bone I found, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to just leave the pickle pods be.

The next day clear warm skies. An exciting west wind rustled leaves, tossed a few about, rippled herringbone patterns down the river’s spine, played havoc with the pickle pods. I found them on the ground, just two of the three, one with a hole in its side, the other half torn away. Alas—wounded pickle pods! But getting a peek inside was very interesting. Looked like green, gelatinous loofah.

My previous searches for pods beyond my spot had turned up nothing, but that day, with wounded pods in tow (I figured now I might as well take them home), my vision felt sharp, my mind in pod tune. I looked specifically for the vine the pods hang from rather than for the pods themselves. The vine is thin, yellow, scraggly like a string with no leaves, or maybe just a few leaves withered and brown or yellow. Suddenly I saw such a vine. It wandered through some dogwood branches at eye-height, interlaced with other vines, wrapped around and across spent wildflower heads, shrubs, who knows what all. A loose tapestry of island vegetation, a haphazard net tossed ashore.

Follow the vine.

I visually tracked the vine and at one end found a brown, shrunken-head-like prickly pod. Its bottom was open, as if nibbled off, its thin outer skin slightly curled back. I took a look inside, again reminded of a loofah. I tracked back along the vine and found more pods, still green, various sizes, all with open bottoms. Maybe they naturally split open that way to release their seeds. Or maybe they are, to some, a forest delicacy, bottoms only: be careful not to eat more, Junior, just nibble, like this, suck out the seeds.

Bottoms up.

A couple of humdinger ballgames. Our favorite team wins enough to move on to the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers of L.A. Which is a bit of a doodley doodley doo doo doo. My method of staying calm is to dribble a bit of Tennessee Cider into my peppermint tea. Also, I study the possibility and complexity of synchronizing a streaming radio broadcast with a streaming television broadcast. No easier than lining up fish in whitewater.

A dream: there is a man in a suit. He asks (I think) to sit on my lap—this part is fuzzy—and I say something about him being just like a little boy or maybe a big baby and so then he is a little boy, a baby boy, sitting on my lap, facing me. Now the dream is clear. The baby boy has a big round smiling face, very little hair, and he is clad in a dark blue onesie printed all over with little white and red and yellow balloons. His belly is big, Buddha-round, and I cover it with one hand, barely, commenting on its size. This seems to offend the baby, so I smile and say: “We’ll call you Balloon Boy. How’s that? Balloon Boy!” The baby smiles and laughs. “Balloon Boy!” I say again, and the baby laughs again. We do that for a bit and then the baby says, “You’re so nice, we should name a day for you! There should be a Leslie Allen Day!” And I think yes, there should be a day for me. I start thinking of possibilities. September 31, April 31, October 32. These dates strike me as so funny that I laugh and snort and laugh and snort and I want to tell Balloon Boy why I am laughing but I am laughing and snorting so hard I cannot speak.

By the time I got around to looking at the prickly pickle pods I had brought home from my spot by the river, the innards had dried to a wheat color. The skin—dried pickle green and prickly, though not quite so prickly as before—peeled back easily, revealing and releasing the loofah within. Yes, they are loofahs, or luffas, if you prefer. So somewhere along a wild U.P. river there grows a wild mini loofah vine. I know a woman who keeps doll houses. Maybe she’d like a little mini loofah for a bathroom.

The Loofah Project

I stay up late listening to the first Cubs-Dodgers game on streaming radio, the local Chicago broadcast with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer. Pat always tells you when a player’s uniform is dirty and even describes the smudges and streaks, and Ron is a bit excitable, especially when things happen like Miguel Montero hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth with two outs to break what had been a numbing 3-3 tie. I’ve decided the national television broadcasts are not worth the folderol and to switch to them during the playoffs, well, it’s like leaving old friends you’ve sat with in the bleachers since April just to sit with and listen to these strangers, these stiffs in slick suits and ties from some faraway land who profess to have a better seat, a better view, and who profess to know it all. Bah. Anyway, what a game.

Game One NLCS: Cubs 8, Dodgers 4