Maxed out 

The autumn of J.J.’s discontent

By G.D. Maxwell

The days are golden at Smilin’ Dog Man’r. Birch and poplar, having fought pestilence all summer long, are finally blazing yellow in the lengthening rays of a waning sun. Sulfuric Lake’s Kokanee – the fish out here – have turned red and horny and are making new Kokanee in the marl of the lake’s shallow end like there’s no tomorrow.

The last frozen peas from the garden have been harvested and only a rapidly disappearing bounty of potatoes and carrots remain. Several tonnes of rock have been removed from the new strawberry fields forever bed, it’s clay soil amended with dung and peat, generous amounts of hope and anticipation.

And northern lights are dancing in the sky at night. Like spectral hallucinations, mists over moors, frosty breath on warm glass, they more suggest their presence than assert it. Not yet the spectacular dripping green and red lights they can become, these early apparitions are wispy and ethereal. If they didn’t appear and disappear before my eyes and pulsate like waves driven by unseen music across the sky, I’d write them off as light-lace clouds or high fog.

Nighttime has been a bonus here. Like nights camping or nights of childhood, the sky is inky black and filthy with stars half the month and lit up with blinding moonlight the other half. Zippy the Dog thinks our late night sojourn is all about him and his bladder. He can’t figure out why we have to just stand around craning our necks upward once he’s had a squirt and barked the deer and foxes away from his yard. He hasn’t perfected the art of doing nothing, hearing nothing, reveling in silence and darkness. Then again, I can’t lick my... well, you know.

Deep in such lofty thoughts, I barely noticed the headlights coming up the road until they started bouncing off the aurora. Annoyed at their intrusion, I was really startled when the sound of tires crunching gravel headed my way, slowed down and finally stopped just outside the gate. The sound of the engine died but before the silence of the night could re-establish itself, a car door in sore need of lubricant squeaked open. Blinded by the headlights and surprised at Zippy’s nonchalance toward the intruder, I was about to speak when a "Yo Bro" shattered what was left of my peace and quiet.

"That you, J.J.?" Please let this be a dream.

"Who else, Brudda."

"How’d you find this place?"

"You gave me a map. Don’t you remember?"

Scuttled by generosity I never expected to be taken up, I did have a vague recollection of extending an open, yeah-come-up-anytime kind of invitation. Carumba!

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