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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ear I am!

In the grocery store I pushed my cart through the spring garden plant section, gazing at geraniums and shiny plastic hoses as drugged looking as other shoppers nearby, lost in another world, one where the air is full of the possibilities and promises for gardeners that come with the arrival of each spring.

"Talk to me!"  I heard a man in his forties, an employee, playfully demanding me out of   the near coma I had fallen in as I wandered the aisles.  I glanced up to his sparkling eyes and noticed his strong shoulders and slender physique. "Stop!" I said, fumbling for my phone. "Have you ever heard of Sunny and the Sunliners?" I asked, spinning through Spotify pages to locate the song, "Talk to Me," one of the few songs from a South Texas band during the sixties that made the Top 40. In between leafy displays of plants we both listened with all our attention to Sunny Osuna's  corduroy textured voice sing a love song meant for close dancing. Within the first few seconds I was transported to the smooth floors and low lights of the Civic Center ballroom in Laredo, where thousands, not hundreds, of teens went to see Sunny and the Sunliners perform. I felt the thrill of being a part of an enormous wave of the human raza, pretty dancing couples spinning around the ballroom in a slow motion pattern.  When the song on my phone ended I almost thanked the smiling clerk beside me for the dance. 

The second time this week that my sense of hearing surprised me was in a terrible way. I had stepped from my parked car at the college's west parking lot and started down the sidewalk to the walkway at the pedestrian crossing. I suddenly heard the heavy thud-da-thud-thud sound of a human body bouncing on a car hood after being struck. In my mind's eye I imagined a person acrobatically flying across the front of a car from countless stunt man scenes from movies. I ran back to the parking lot and saw a young college student, a girl, getting up from the pavement beside a stopped sedan. The driver got out of the car as I reached them and I noticed he wore nurse's scrubs. The girl was wobbly, gathered her hair and she was in tears but she dusted the dirt from her clothes and said to us she was not hurt. She said she had been hit by the front of the car and was thrown across the left fender landing beside the driver's door. We phoned campus police and EMS came to check her out. She told me that she thought the driver had seen her step onto the pedestrian crossing. 

The third time this week that my ears were there before my other senses was while listening to a sound that shook the earth. I was taking apples to a neighbor's horse about a half mile away. Every few months I buy a giant bag of carrots and share them with Star. He also likes apples and when I have extras or overripe ones, I share them too. I had some apples that had gotten a little old so I decided to walk down to pay Star a visit just before sunset when the March wind kicked up.  Sometimes he hears me from his stable about fifty yards from the gate as I walk down the hill to him and he neighs for me to hurry with his carrots. When I got to his gate I hollered for him. He was no where in sight and because the last time I saw him he looked too thin, I wondered if Star was no longer with us. Still, I called his name once or twice more but the only response was frightened barking from a dog who lives with Star coming from the far south end of the ten acre property. The wind blew harder and the sun was almost down, so I considered leaving the apples inside the gate to return home. I called out his name another two times but the sound didn't carry because of the wind. I waited a few more seconds then heard a faint rumble, like distant thunder and looked hard among the trees to see if I could spot his yellow coat approaching. There between the cedars was a glimpse of his legs and hooves in a full gallop and soon I saw him as he came to the clearing near the gate. He ducked quickly into the stable.  As I continued to call for him he peered out with equal parts fear and curiosity. I waved the apples at him and he trotted toward me. Star was entering springtime well fed with a healthy cover over his ribs.  We shared a few noisy moments of crunching trust.  Star risked closeness to a semi-stranger who shows up sporadically with treats, and me, with my hand carefully extended, with fingers safely out of reach from his vigorous big-as-thread-spool-size teeth, while Star chomped down in strong bite after bite four large apples. 

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