‘What’s with the limp?” I’ve been hearing variations of that question for more than half a century and it still takes me by surprise. A helmet slam into the side of my thigh put me on the sidelines for a while, but it didn’t stop me from setting a school record in the pole vault the following spring, a record that stood for 15 years. You see, I was a dumb jock, and I had the medals and grade point average to prove it. And I’ve limped ever since.
It pains me to think those might have been my glory days, but there you are. Some never had any. Bruce Springsteen wrote about such days and wisely wrote, “Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by.” Recently I attended a class reunion in a nearby town and it was clear that some of the members of the class continue to relive their glory days more than fifty years later. Makes me sad.
Enough of this. It’s pointless to sit around wallowing in a past that wasn’t really all that interesting, but I suspect we all do it. I still see me with a full head of hair, a flat stomach, no limp, and a clear mind. If you do something similar, knock it off. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and soon no one will invite you for a meal. No one cares about your tiresome past. And while we’re on the topic of legacy I know this: a few months after I am gone people will try to conjure up memories of me by saying, “You know, that one guy.”
Once a month I join a group of elderly cousins for lunch, usually in an everyman kind of place, light beer and burgers. For two hours we talk about subjects that would be of no interest to anyone else. We speak of family. Period. We cover health issues, deaths, births and sometimes we discover family secrets, some of which are not all that comfortable. Grandpa did what? But it’s OK because we don’t venture into any of the big stuff like moral bewilderment, religious hypocrisy, or a government that lacks empathy and sympathy.
November is nigh and I finally got around to exchanging the cutter on the back of my tractor for a snow blade, a twice-annual chore that gets more difficult every time. I can already envision a day when I can no longer muscle around heavy equipment. Hell, a day or so ago I couldn’t untwist the cap from a jar of sauerkraut.
Earlier today a flock of cedar waxwings descended for a meal on my berry bushes, rising swiftly from the bush as a group and returning as a group, exhibiting extraordinary choreography, swirling and whirling in unison, their tiny brains working computer fast, much more impressive than any human Blue Angel. It pleases me to know the flock will be around all winter.
Tonight the window next to my chair is open. In the distance a pack of coyotes can be heard moving through the woods, heard because they keen, cry, laugh, and just generally talk a lot. I like coyotes; they are not looked upon fondly out here which is too bad because these night creatures seem to know how to live life to the fullest, reminding me of many Italian travelers I’ve encountered in Europe over the years, loud, proud and just generally happy to be walking the earth.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.