matt pond PA

July 5, 2016

Huginn and Muninn.


Here, in the grinding gears of summer.

This is when the cracks start showing. Weeds come up through patched pavement beneath skies of sheer, unsaturated clouds. After the 4th, heaving semis show up to unpack mechanical skeletons, setting up a carnival in the Hannaford parking lot. Simulated death machines for the savage youth! Globs of dirty oil hang from spinning shafts. The maintenance men don’t look convinced by the grinding gears of summer and don’t care about the cotton candy cardboard stuck to their unlaced work books.

My mother was too cautious to let us run loose at carnivals. She had a fear of stoves and strangers that kept us strapped in the papoose for many moons. We weren’t allowed to ride bikes on proper roads until I was twelve and Anna was thirteen.

A yardsale find! My first greenlit vehicle was a brittle, red ten-speed Schwinn. Every moving part had rust, rattling and ca-CHUNK-ing with each shift. The handlebar tape looked like it was trying to escape its clunky, cheap life. Brakes were for babies!

I don’t know why this bike seemed suitable. The parental controls were somehow scrambled by a few blasts of WD-40 (which existed in the semi-scientific kingdom of band-aids, hydrogen peroxide and castor oil).

The first and last trip was to the ski resort, to the lost river. Five short yet endless miles, round trip. To hell and back.

These tires were tired rubber flaps, deflated and bald. Split by sun and time. These were streets of frost-heaved asphalt, shoulder-less gravel canyons on either side. Ditches of perilous rock and glass. Winding country roads run by Trans Am and Ford, neck-reddened skippers compelled to throw half-full cans of Busch and Bud at all motorless wayfarers — “Damn those innocent sorcerers and their motor-less, two-wheeled contraptions. Damn their strange, supernatural freedom!” These were the terrifyingly true grinding gears of summer.

But we made it. One day, all the way to the river without my mom. I immediately slipped in the current and dropped the backpack boombox into the water. There would be no Kinks or Cars on the hot summer rocks. My generally disappointed “girlfriend” was additionally disappointed with me. And I did not care — I was on my own.

These days, I head to the small county airports and wait for the last flights to land at dusk. Cessnas do a flimsy taxi, turn and silent stop. Wood blocks render them motionless in the open field breeze. The enlightenment fades as I wait for Huginn and Muninn to return, to tell me about what’s really happening in the rest of the world. Something beyond heartbeats. Beyond the sparklers and the slow boil of summer anxiety.

While I don’t mind falling asleep on the hood of my car, I can’t help but wonder what’s really going to ensue. Later, in the light of a noble, distinctive drive-in that has since yielded to a handheld screen.

Half-heard in a semi-slumber — the fan underneath makes random pleas for coolness while crickets seem to get lazier and lazier as each day gets hotter and hotter. All slowly consumed by the grinding gears of summer.