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It’s fall, no matter the month
Sep. 20, 2022 6:38 am, Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 3:13 pm
It was almost hilarious, then I decided it was beautiful, and graceful. Up my country lane I watched as four wild turkeys, two adults and two young ones, high-stepped out of the tall grass onto the gravel, extending their twig-like legs as if they were emulating Dan Patch, a famous harness-racing horse from more than a century ago.
On only one day this past week has the wind come whistling down the river valley from the north, and it was refreshing, a small harbinger of things to come. I think we’re now in September, though evidently as a retired old person I have some difficulties with what month we’re in.
At the end of August I was in the midst of signing up to be a participant in Alzheimer’s clinical trials at Rush Medical in Chicago. My wife had been in an Alzheimer’s clinical trial at Rush and it was an extraordinarily positive experience, so I figured I’d volunteer as a person without Alzheimer’s, as evidently they also need those without dementia for some of their studies.
I was given a Mini-Mental Status Examination. Some of you have perhaps taken it … the tester says three words and then asks later to repeat them back. That, and a whole bunch of other tests. My results came by post, 21 out of 22 correct. The one I missed? “What month is this?” This was at the end of August, and I said, “September.” That is not a disqualifier for Rush, but it sure felt like one for me. Hell, I remember the words to “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps: how in the world do I not know the month in which I’m living? Hold my hand, someone.
The hollow is beautiful this time of year. About once a week I climb aboard my tractor, the one with the cutter on the back and I mow the fields and trails that we carved out of the underbrush over the past 25 years. This past cutting I sang Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like I Do” in full voice. Of course, no one offered a response, and I’m still not accustomed to that. I sing, a lot. Music offers reference points to all that I’ve done in life, good, bad, happy, sad.
A friend told me recently, “I’m so happy to see you back in music.” Were it not for music I’m not sure where I’d be, however, she hasn’t always been there. At some point we stumble into adulthood, and we realize that to make a living we must do something more practical than play music or write books. Many of us pushed aside some of the things we love.
My mother was a wonderful painter, had been since she was small, but she gave it up to raise a family, only picking it up later as she made her very lonely way toward death. I can see two of my mother’s paintings from where I sit, and they make me sad. One she painted when she was 13 and the other just a few months before she passed.
Dear, dear woman, what were you thinking, getting married in your youth, backing away from yourself, putting away your brushes, then dying so young? Come back to me, there are things I forgot to say, songs I still wish to sing to you, and there are paintings waiting to be created.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.
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