Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A little Strain goes a long way...

Bought an inflatable kayak last month. I took it out to Boguefalaya on Sunday with friend Annie and paddled and floated for about an hour and 20 minutes. We got started late (like around 8:30-9) and after a peaceful first half hour or so, started to rack up the boat neighbors who were spreading wake in our direction (pretty courteous guys, but still sucks to have the quiet of birds and waves interrupted by gas motors) so we bugged out. Really pretty though. The beauty of the North Shore can be missed with its strip malls and highways, so if you get chance, go to Covington and turn left on Columbia, then just meander back there for a bit. It is a good short-term visit out of the city once in a while...

Went over there Saturday afternoon to be there ahead of time and stayed in my grandparents old house with my dog Maddie stretched out on the floor by my feet.
I grew up visiting this house in summers (and when I moved to the area as teenager afternoons) and then went I got older and moved back home permanently, I went on my own to see my grandparents when I could get away.
I remember a Saturday in 2001 when I went there to swim in their pool (a pool that my grandpa dug himself after work in the 1970s, and even when he thought he would let someone else at least pour the concrete, thought they were doing it wrong, so he did that himself too). I went swimming and my sick grandpa came out of the house to sit on the swing with his oxygen tank and I kept protesting he did not need to come out on a hot day (I thought he was worried about me swimming alone.)
But it turned out he just wanted to talk. A guy who maybe said 200 words a day.
We talked about places to get gumbo in New Orleans, why he bought this piece of property so far from "town" (Mandeville I mean), where my great aunt had lived in my neighborhood back in the 50s and so on. It was the second talk I had with him-and the last it turned out.

Floating there, listening, I learned a great deal about how he thought and went away that day thinking he was pretty cool. I mean I always knew he was a good guy, but that talk really helped me see my connection to my small family and how and why he made his choices the way he did. I have often thought about that day as I was swimming back and forth under that green roof with pine needles caught on it.
When I stay there, I feel connected to him and even to my crazy, slightly mean Grandmother who passed away a few years ago sitting in her rocking chair in that house with a cup of CDM at her side. I walk down the driveway to the gate (with Maddie the cartoon dog running past me and looking back triumphantly when she reaches the pile of gravel), then walk back towards the house looking up at the pine trees (always remembering that excellent pear tree) and just let old and new memories on Strain Road float up for a while.

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