blue to indigo

by tobias crabtree


this morning, while the sun came up over the bay to the east, i watched a crow shadow a redtail hawk. the crow above, the hawk below, each completely silent. i know it’s not a game for either. redtails often prey on crows, especially the youngsters. i think about what it must be like to do what that crow is doing.  a decent analogy would be if i went looking for great whites and then swam above them, prodding them to drive them from my favorite swimming area. of course, a crow is in it’s element on the wind; the ocean, no matter how much i love it, is not my natural element. but those two birds, the hawk and the crow, they did the most breathtaking dance. it could be that it was so wonderful because of what is at stake. and isn’t life like that? we give more when more is at stake. duh.

i decided to drink my coffee out of a smaller cup this morning. that way it seems like i’m having more cups but i don’t suffer from the shakes as much because i’m drinking less. it’s self-psychology, or at least that’s what i’m telling myself. and i’m not telling myself out loud, i’ve been trying to not talk to myself out loud as much because people stare. oh, we’re allowed to do it when we’re 7 but it’s a different deal when you’re 46. so yeah, i talk to myself, it’s just with my inside voice…and i mean inside.

i write sometimes to my buddy, dave kenneally. we’ve been bud’s since ’96 or somewheres there about. he knows me well, i know him well. we were both marines together and then we had several years where we suffered through the same tragedy. life must’a known we needed to share that one or else one of us might have just quit on things. dave used to be a great drunk, one of the best ever. it came fairly natural to him, like a talent. one of my favorite stories he tells is the night he drunkenly told me we needed some mcdonald’s. it was in the days when i might eat something like that if i was drunk enough. we ordered and then he tore through his meal before mine was open, when i came back from the restroom, my meal was gone as well. i told dave the next day to get a laugh but i only saw sadness. soon after he stopped drinking alcohol. now he’s a practicing buddhist. now he smiles like he used to drink — with all his heart.

davey tells me i’m sometimes too hard on myself. i just tell him he couldn’t understand unless his brain was way smaller, like mine.

my skateboard is just lying here next to me as i write. i want to take it for a spin down the hill. my ankle is still swollen from the last spin down the hill that ended with an unplanned trick involving several summersaults. i think i’ll wait one more day. sometimes inanimate objects have a louder voice than my voice of reason. my skateboard is a loudmouth.

before my fingers start shaking too bad to type from my third tiny cup of coffee, i’d like to put down a few more words. something about understanding. something about soul. i sat in the sun and talked for a bit with johnny’s daughter, seidel. the sun was nice and warm on the stoop while we chatted. she’s 4 years old. i asked her if she knew the word soul.  the yes she gave seemed like a no. i assumed she might be telling the truth and i asked her where we could get a soul or two. she glanced at me sideways like kids do when tricky questions get asked. “from the flowers,” i asked,  “or from the hummingbirds?” again, the glance. she never answered, but instead walked off with nary a word. later that night she gave me a fresh painting from out of several that she was working on. she told me it was for me. it was a beautiful blue with a bit of indigo on one side…

colors of the soul.