Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bottling it up

 Neighborhood life! I have to somehow bottle it up, distill its essence, because already September is here, and soon the stoops will clear out, the streets turn barren. The late-afternoon sun kisses 21st Street with special golden tenderness, knowing they'll soon part ways . The setting sun puts on a bravura performance over by the Super Mall on Cermak, and all the evening actors spill into the street--the old drunks who sing in the alleyway, pimply teenagers putting on passion-plays of toughness, stoopfulls of aunts, uncles and yapping dogs. Abundance!

But how to bottle it, how to distill it, save some for a snowy day? I browse the internet, looking for answers. A charming post on the WFMU blog has MP3s of popular ice-cream truck jingles, which seems like a useful sonic preserve to put up in the larder. I consider buying up a store of fireworks and explosives--drive to Indiana, or order some online; few words bring to mind Midwest American summer more readily than mortars, shells and reloadables, and with names like Texas Cyclone, Operation Justice and Black Thunder, well, it just makes my American skin tingle. Having spent the summer in Berlin, I missed out this year on the explosives-orgy that always consumes my neighborhood around the 4th of July. Berliners somehow don't care for explosives--I supposed losing two consecutive world wars will do that.

To consider the problem in more literal terms--I think it's high time I put aside a few gallons of fruit wine that will be ready by Halloween. Pete's Fresh Market has pulled out all the harvest-time stops, a fire-sale bounty of obscure fruits--currants, persimmons, pluots... I've never even heard of pluot wine, although it's probably incredible, and the idea of black currant liqueur just screams late-summer debauchery. Then there's food-canning, which NPR (who else?) reports is on the upswing, part of the post-economic-crash DIY chic (NPR has also reported, in a story they regrettably titled Coop Dreams, on thrifty citizens who've begun raising their own egg-chickens)--and my friend Virginia has bags and bags of fresh-picked pears sitting in her dining room, from a tree tended by her solar architect friend. I had one just today--they're awfully good pears.

Somehow this rumination on neighborhood life took a wrong turn and headed for Martha Stewartville. I'll admit to having difficulty focusing my attention in these last weeks of winding-down summer. How I've idled the summer away, when you come down to it! And now the dreaded Labor Day weekend, when millions of hot-dog guzzling Americans run amok before buckling down and getting back to Work. Will I return to my work, whatever that might be? Or just relax at home, riding out the market crash with a few bottles of black currant liqueur?

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