Saturday, March 26, 2011

Piper's Son, One Crazy Summer

Sunrise at 7 am, sunset at 7:30 pm, and what a beauty it was.

Completely different day out there today. Cool. Gray. Wet. Lots of little popcorn birds zipping through the blackberry bushes and the lilacs, hanging from the branches in no particular direction, upside down, sideways, they are tiny and bounce through the air, they fly in scallops.

My neighborhood isn't a pretty one, it's on the edge of I-90, we consider it a pass through neighborhood: most everybody who comes up our street is using it as a shortcut to the other major streets leading somewhere else. It is full of old houses and poor people, blackberries and big, old trees. It's also full of younger families, not very many children, and artists. It has a few remnants of the old orchards left behind by the Italian families who lived here when this area was called Garlic Gulch. There are some mad gardeners in the neighborhood, a couple of musicians, and a very few teenagers whose families all moved in around the same time we did.

My favorite part of all of this neighborhood is Davis Street. Our kitchen window looks out on this one block piece of the two block long Davis. It is a short street, low street lighting, amazing gardens, lots of artfully designed houses, chickens, a horse, once, and people who walk and play on the street. It is covered by trees that keep it cool all summer and the snow looks like butter in the winter lights, lots of birdhouses and feeders, a couple of nature habitat houses with plaques and everything.

It is a joy to walk on the street in every season: The daphne is wafting its siren scents, the lilacs are just beginning to leaf out, light green lace against the darker cedar greens, pink magnolias and cherry trees like tutus. In the fall, leaves are bunched up against the curb, the sound of rakes along the street, people gather the leaves for their gardens, the people who grill all year long now light their outdoor fireplaces, and the rain runs down our hillside like a river, you can hear it go. The trees almost touch overhead in the summer and everyone is out and working on their cars and yards, and in the winter, the bare bones of the land are exposed. Skeleton trees, brown grass, mud in the easements.

But the best thing is how many people say, "Hey!" when you see them. They let you into the conversation, lend you their tools, help clean up your part of the street if you can't get out to do it. I have gone out to rake up the corner, clean out the drains, and gotten into hour long conversations about what to plant where in the heat and sun. Our street isn't very long, there aren't a lot of people on it, but we can pretty much recognize everyone and that's kind of rare and wondrous.

Anyway. This post started as a view from the window. The lilacs are starting to leaf out, the maple has red leaf buds at the tip of each branch. The magnolias across the street are in bloom and so beautiful, the easements in front of Sheila's house are full of green and cool plants and the garden plot in the yard across is a deep, warm brown.

Reading One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia and re-reading Piper's Son, by Melina Marchetta.

OCS is a look at the summer three African-American girls spend with their estranged mother in Oakland. She is working with the Black Panthers and the girls aren't to know what's going on.

Piper's Son is a coming of age novel, a companion to Saving Francesca, and is FAB-ulous. Great story about family, loss, grief and love.

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