January 6, 2015

I was sound asleep, lying on my right side, back to the bedroom door and dreaming that jazz singer/bassist/babe Esperanza Spalding was plucking my body with her wondrous fingers, when something heavy landed on my hip, pivoted and leapt into space and out the door.

I thought it might be a raccoon or a possum, which didn’t make a lot of sense as I haven’t seen raccoons and possums in Genehouse—outside to be sure, but not in. I didn’t move, just lay in the dark and mourned the dreamsmoke of Esperanza, her luscious cascades of hair no longer dancing on my chest.

It happened again: The fiend landed on my hip, pivoted and jumped. I turned to see a critter, its legs splayed like a parachutist, landing on the floor and running, a dark shadow streaking away.

A few minutes later, IT landed again, this time staying and rocking on my bony hip, and extending a paw and patting my nose. Scout the Cat is a known nose patter, and indeed it was she, as hyped up as a bobcat, which told me it must be cold outside.

Scout reverts to banshee lion, throaty growler and double jointed gymnast, on very cold mornings. She even bathes herself maniacally, extending her right rear paw in the air and furiously licking her belly—and other nether regions I won’t mention. If she catches me watching her, she holds the leg extension in space and waits.

So winter is upon us. The wind is out of the north, roaring across Farmer Orville’s fields on Route 3, down a sluice in the woods and straight at my windows. The howl of wind on windows, the eerie whistling sound one may associate with graveyards, is upon me. Thank god I have no imagination.

The bare trees bend and plié like ballet dancers with heads in the ground, but the legs rattle and moan, the way that Esperanza Spalding sings, her sultry voice penetrating into my bone marrow.

Last night’s sunset was seen through the thick inverted clouds emanating from the coal-powered electric plant across the Mississippi. The vivid color of Sol through the poisoned cotton candy was fire-pink tea roses. There is strange and haunting beauty, in pollution.

To walk in frigid January, in the teeth of sharp-as-knives air, is to sway and rock dizzily, like a drunk. The only way to manage it is to meditate and see the lithe and sensuous Esperanza ahead of you, the wind in the tendrilled coils of her hair, and follow her round the bend, and follow her to hell if necessary, and follow her to heaven—totally, utterly necessary.

But only a crazy man would walk in weather as cold as this.


About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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2 Responses to Gymnasts

  1. Em Miller says:

    On 06JAN2015, Gene writes: “So winter is upon us.”

    Prompting my reply of: Tell me, Gene.. just where in the HELL have you been these past three months?? *My* furnace has been running since sometime around the last week of September (& I’m not at all cold-natured)!

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