Just about every Sunday, The Loved One and I take…, well, a Sunday drive. We never plan these things in advance. Sometimes we sit in the driveway with the engine running and scan the map to determine where we’ll go that particular day. We might visit presidents’ homes (Lincoln, Harrison I & Harrison II), a labor leader’s home (Eugene V. Debs), interesting town squares (Salem’s and Corydon’s are particularly neat), waterfalls, hidden lakes, little roadside bakeries, nature sanctuaries, and more.
Yesterday, we went to a favorite place, Madison, Indiana, where we sat on a bench under a shade tree and just watched the waters of the Ohio River rush by.
A funny little thing caught my attention. A medium-sized boat drifted in the current running from east to west. It was not, to use the proper nautical term, “under way.” I figured whoever was aboard just wanted to relax and feel free, untethered to anything, open to the vicissitudes of wind and water, or some such poetic stuff. TLO, scanning the ground around us for pretty, water-tossed stones, looked up and said, “Why don’t they put an anchor out?” then went back to her searching. BTW, the proper nautical term for what she suggested is to “drop anchor.” That’s also a euphemism for something else. Look it up yourself.
Anyway, I kept watching this boat and soon a figure emerged from below decks. A woman. I could tell her gender only by dint of the fact that her black swimsuit covered her torso. Men these days seldom wear such swimwear.
She walked abaft and climbed down the transom onto the swim platform. She removed her footwear (Sneakers? Aqua socks? I couldn’t tell from my distance.) She sat on the platform and dangled her feet in the water. Then she slued around and let herself into the water, facing the stern, while holding on to the little railing on the platform. She remained in that position, only her shoulders and head above water. At first I couldn’t figure out what in the hell she was thinking or doing but, after a few moments, she climbed back up on the swim platform and then back onto the deck.
“Well, sure,” I said, triumphantly, rather like Rosalind Franklin when she identified the helical nature of the DNA molecule, “she just went to the bathroom!”
TLO looked up again and said, “Number 1 or number 2?”
I shrugged. “Search me,” I said.
“Look at this one,” she said, handing me a stone with what appeared to be the remains of an ammonite in it. The last ammonites disappeared during what is now known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event some 66 million years ago. It’s assumed a massive comet or asteroid blasted into the Earth’s surface where the Chicxulub crater now sits in the Gulf of Mexico. The collision raised an unimaginably gigantic cloud of smoke and debris that encircled the planet causing an extended winter and even halting photosynthesis in most of the Earth’s green life. Some 75 percent of the Earth’s species went extinct in the aftermath of the event.
TLO was holding a piece of history that may well have been as old as, say, the pterosaurs, the plesiosaurs, and the last of the dinosaurs. The event was devastating to life on Earth, sure, but it created an environment in which mammals — and eventually people — could exist.
Together, we’d leapt from a consideration of the most basic human function to the most existential, even cosmic occurrence.
To borrow a line from Truman Capote, how was your Sunday afternoon?
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My editor at the Limestone Post, Lynae Sowinski, passed along this wonderful note. It’s a comment, written by our town’s Nancy Hiller, about my Big Talk/Limestone Post radio interview/magazine article on jazz guy extraordinaire David Brent Johnson.
Posting the comment here just might seem like bragging but, hell, if I don’t brag about myself who’s going to? Plus, Nancy’s take is based on the meat of the interview, which is all DBJ. It’s his story, his life, she’s reacting to.
At further risk of sounding as though I’m logrolling I state unequivocally right here and now that Nancy and DBJ are two main reason why I’ve fallen in love with this town and why I’ve never felt so at home as I do here.