extra medium

by tobias crabtree

there are things i just can’t spell out, no matter how hard i try. i can’t make you feel the freezing, crystal, colorado mornings from my childhood. and the ice at the bottom of the stairs in the backyard by the woodpile. and the squeak of the snow between my shoes and the ice. and the way the wood splits under the ax that is different than in the summertime.  and the way that the world is quieter because sounds can’t fly as well when their wings are cold. 

there is a part of me that is still the 8 year old boy who is walking toward weir gulch at the bottom of harlan hill. i still carry a butterfly net and some fishing line and hooks. i’m prepared to catch things and witness the world that lies beneath the mint plants at the edge of the creek. i’m ready to assign names to creatures and feel the whirl of the earth. all my mindfulness is barely enough to give me a cupful of real, honest wisdom. instead i think with awe at what i’m missing and how i can’t explain the things i actually understand. growing up is a trip…and i think i’m grown up. or at least it sure does feel that way. 

i have a friend who always gives me a hard time. he says things like, “hey, tob, the eighties called and they want their hair style back.” he will ask me whose little sister gave me the pants i’m wearing. he says i like my t-shirts that are extra medium. he really loves his own jokes and, quite honestly, they are pretty good, even though i bear the brunt.  but about that term “extra medium”…well now, that’s a good one. it’s funny because it makes no sense. i relate to that. i’m in the middle of my life (i think) and i might be a little beyond that. that might make me “extra-middle”. 

writing tonight is just barely worth it. it feels like when i am groping around in the dark for a toothbrush that i can’t find, so i settle for the old toothpick i find in my shirt-pocket. i feel caught somewhere between the delete button and the bourbon bottle. i might use both, one for sure. there’s little beyond the force of practice, but that i do believe in. i never planned on a pulitzer and i wouldn’t have a place to show it off,  beyond the dashboard of a 1983 toyota dolphin. that might be kinda cool though. 

earlier today, before the rain came in, i watched the little black kitty hunt and catch a tiny vole. she’s a great hunter and the vole just didn’t have a chance. she caught it and began the long, drawn-out session of catch-and-release. i finally took heart for the tiny vole and tried to pull the cat off so i could finish the job. the cat turned and bit and i let her go. she continued to be a cat, i continued to be a strange, melancholy, two-legged observer. some don’t care. i care a whole helluva lot. it’s all so beautiful and terrible. do you know what i mean?

there is so much.  so much to worry over. so much to love.  there will be crops that fail, babies will be born with tricky hearts, a sparrow will fly headlong into the window and leave a dust print like a tiny angel. our oceans will suffer from our addictions to convenience. the moon will swing and swoon across our sky. the robins will hop and tilt and stab and pull the worms from the fresh turf on million dollar golf courses. whales will swim to where the ocean goes quiet and there, in the extra-middle of nowhere, they will love one another and they will breathe the sky and drink the ocean and they will wonder if everything is going to be ok. they will wonder about folks like me and i will wonder about folks like them. 

one more sip, no more words, a few more thoughts, a trillion stars. that’ll be good for now.

off to the ’83 dolphin. the dashboard is safe from clutter.