Just a little bigger than a chickadee

by tobias crabtree

I noticed the marquis sign below PT’s topless strip club read, open Christmas Day! This set my mind to thinking as I continued on my drive. The first thing I did was count the days since Christmas and figured that about 10 days had passed since that sign had been put up. Then I thought about who exactly puts the letters up there. Maybe the grounds keeper? Do places like PT’s have a grounds keeper? I remembered the parking lot as being square and trash-strewn, almost like the building which was square and dirty looking. I pictured a middle-aged bartender with a mean look yelling at some newly hired kid, “Get out there and change that godamn sign, it’s been up for a month now!” Then I thought about working as a stripper on Christmas, what kind of choice crowd that would be.

It’s been gray for days now and the streets are slushy and filthy looking. As far as i’m concerned, I don’t wanna think about PT’s anymore, nor do I want to think about the people inside that place on Christmas Day. I’d also like to say that I ain’t passing any judgement on them folks, I’m just glad I ain’t dealing with that in my life. I gotta admit, the thoughts of all that put me in a kind of funk. It all got me to thinking about quality. You know what I mean? Just the quality of the moment, which leads to the quality of the next moment and the next. It all adds up after a while, and not a very long while at that. Life continues to prove Itself as fleeting. The old geezers talk about it all the time. As we get older, the good old days seem to get gooder and gooder. I guess it could be that what was good becomes better as our memories become more malleable with age. That ain’t a bad thing. I love a good old story teller. The movie, Big Fish, comes to mind…loved it.

Patient, consistent, impartial, attentive, unflinching — these are all words that I would consider complimentary should someone use them to describe me; these words are also completely true of Death. Death is happening all around us all the time, but when It comes close, right up against us, few of us handle it gracefully. And I am including myself here. I am not a morose type person. I don’t dwell on Death, but I think it’s important to pay attention to our mortality, our limited heartbeats. I do believe that these thoughts are very important because, after all, we’re gonna be dead — all of us.

A couple days ago I woke up early and checked out sports on ESPN. It’s a habit that I struggle with, especially since I think most pro athletes are over paid, grossly over paid. And I just can’t stomach so much of the incredibly over-grown egos, I mean, it is ridiculous. It’s just sports. On the other hand, I love to watch great athletes do great things. And sports is a marvelous forum to express our capabilities. Most of the time I pop on, read a little, and then I can’t take anymore so I leave. I looked at the headlines and saw that Stuart Scott had died. Now, out of all the folks I’ve ever listened to on ESPN, that dude was my favorite.  Several times over the years I heard him call the highlights of a basketball game or a tennis match and I would look it up to see who that voice was that made me laugh. When I heard he had cancer, it made me sad. Then I heard him give a speech at an awards show and I knew he was a special dude. His view on Life was smooth and sweet, just like his commentary. I know, I know, it’s just sports. It’s just another person. But I think it’s rare to live in the face of Death, and die with grace. Stuart Scott was one of the Good Ones, and I never even met him.

When I got back to my brother’s house, the world seemed like it was melting. Huge amounts of black water poured down the gutters and filled the streets. I remembered hearing how California owns most of Colorado’s water and I thought about how silly that seems. I’m sure it ain’t silly to the developers building houses on the golf courses in the mojave desert. After all, we gotta keep our greens green. There’s some important shit for ya. I hacked away for about an hour at the ten-inch-thick pad of ice at the base of the drive, freeing up the water so it could hustle along it’s way to the golf courses. At some point in all my pick-swinging and heavy-thinking, I heard a bird. It was a call I didn’t recognize and so I quit my work and walked toward the spruce tree at the side of the yard. Finally I saw the singer, a little fella that looks like a chickadee, but maybe a little bigger. His song was real good, up and down with a sad melody. I watched him and he spied me back, first one eye and then the other, the turn of the head so fast that I couldn’t really even see when it happened. Beyond the bird with the little song, was the sky that holds the winter clouds over the Colorado mountains. Somewhere out beyond that is the low slung, winter Sun. And beyond that is the Other Stuff that is so far away that I can only imagine about it.

Life. Life really is. Life really is fleeting. All the in-betweens and trivial distractions are ways of un-thinking about the wonder of it all. Life is grand if you learn to love it all, even the end.