Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘4th of July’

I Pedal On.

In Life on July 5, 2010 at 11:05 am

Pedaling down Congress this morning I spotted Eric crouched in a sliver of shade while waiting for a bus. I pulled up. “Shouldn’t you be in the pool?” I asked. Eric is a friend from the Y, a fellow swimmer. He looked at me. I had on a cap and sunglasses and he didn’t recognize me. Then his face lit up, “Doug!” he shouted. I wished him good morning. “Man, you’ve got to see my new mural.” Eric collects discarded cardboard and makes murals with chalk. He is an artist. “The new one is fantastic.” I ask him when I’m going to get a chance to see his work. “We’ll get around to it, man.” Eric has an enthusiasm that I enjoy soaking up. “We’ll get around to it. In the mean time I’m enjoying the highest degree of controlled insanity I’ve ever known.” I told him I was happy for him and left him, exuberant in the phrase, controlled insanity. The world needs more of that, I think.

I peddled on.

I round the corner and glide down Forest Avenue, sun on my shoulders. A couple walk toward me, a young shirtless man, his arms holding a young woman. She is resting her head on his chest and they are moving slowly, rather he is walking and she is moving as he directs. She is sobbing uncontrollably, her makeup is a liquid smear. He has one arm around her shoulder, the other gently cupping her head. He is the picture of compassion and she the picture of complete despair. My heart tore.

I peddled on.

As I pulled into the parking lot a classic 1969 Corvette rumbled past on Forest Ave, black on black with red piping on the leather seats, top down. It was driven by a silver-haired man and the woman in the passenger seat wore a white head scarf. Her deeply tanned arm rested on the door panel and I thought I saw her beating time to the music from the radio.

Returning home. I pedal on.

Spotting Stewart, my friend from Longfellow Books, I pull over and we chat about the Fourth of July fireworks last night. We agree that the addition of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was brilliant. We watched from a neighbor’s balcony while listening to the broadcast on Maine Public Radio. They played the William Tell Overture and my neighbor Mike said that the true sign of an intellectual was the ability to listen to the Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger, immediately dashing any hope I harbored for a pure life of the mind.

I pedal on.

Just When You Thought It Safe to go Back in the Water.

In Dogs, Memoir, Nature on July 3, 2010 at 3:14 pm

It’s as if the Fourth of July were an aquatic celebration and consequently everyone must find water to party. And if they can’t get to water, then they must barbecue, a suitable substitute. Likely one or the other, but both if you’re truly feeling celebratory. I say this because it seems everywhere I turn today, either one or the other of these things is happening.

We don’t have a grill, but did go to the water this morning, Two Lights State park, specifically. First, though, we visited Bug Light, so-called because of its small squat design, then we continued on through Cape Elizabeth, admiring all the big elegant houses, and on down Rt. 77, aptly called Ocean House Road. Eventually hunger forced us off the highway. I had two eggs and pancakes at Rudy’s of the Cape, where the locals were busy ridiculing the news of the morning. Yesterday a great white shark had been caught and tagged down the coast in Cape Cod. The morning broadcasters where intoning serious warnings and everyone seemed in good humor because of it. The television suspended from the corner was playing clips from the 1975 movie Jaws. Coincidently, it was July 4th when that great white devoured the first hapless swimmer.

The breakfast patrons chuckled until the news played a battlefield scene from Afghanistan, a clip punctuated with lots of shouting and rounds firing, then a panic call for medic medic. The Rudy’s morning patrons grew silent. “They shouldn’t allow that on TV,” said a large man seated at the bar, coffee about to part his lips. I was reminded of how the Vietnam war was delivered into my living room as a small boy and how that changed everything, a war fought in black and white across the screens of middle America. Maybe we should see more war, I noted to Carole. Maybe that would be important. She said she’d read a columnist who posited that a draft would prompt a quick end to it all. Presumably everyone would notice that.

The harried waitress behind the counter gave me a filled water bowl and a strip of bacon when I asked for water for my dog. She said that since mom and dad where having breakfast, so should Maggie. I took it out to the car where she was waiting patiently for our return. She was tired from the workout at Bug Light and seemed to relish the water and the bacon immensely.

As I sit here another holiday boat-load of Casco Bay visitors streams past. We had visitors last weekend, Neal and Nancy, and they took the Islander tour–two hours/$18–and said it was worthwhile. I heard the captain this morning as he pointed out a harbor seal to an earlier group of sailors. The news broadcast about the great white said that if you see seals to stay out of the water, as sharks can’t tell the difference between a swimmer and a seal. It is conjecture, I am sure. Certainly no one pretends to understand what a shark can know or not know. Maybe they are well aware of the difference and only eat seals where they can’t find swimmers.