Rendered Fat Content


Once the spiders show up, the show’s about over, though it seems as though a full third of the season remains. Spiders apparently know better. Shrubs and corners web up. Spiders dangle down into my hair and possessively dude walk across the bathroom floor. Predawn insists upon me remembering the down vest. Intimations swell from subtle hints to whispered stage direction to openly discussed secret. Summer’s ending.

School starts mid-August now instead of its proper post-Labor Day time. What so very recently seemed infinite, now feels dear and wasting. The remaining plans won’t be completed. The nursery sign says Plants Are Done. Thank You. The pantry swells with beans and potatoes even though the finest corn’s just now coming in and the tomatoes have yet to peak. I wore socks twice last week. Soon, I will never take them off.

Each season seems born immortal, only to grow into its mortality. This might be no more than the cycle of life. I recall my own immortality now, those over-long, boring, sun scorched weeks between the end of the school year and the county fair where I struggled to fill lazy hours and blanched at the threat of productively employing them. I seasoned those days with schemes, none ever maturing into concrete plans, dabbling rather than dedicating myself to satisfying even those. I lived with little more than time on my hands and that time weighed more than I could comfortably carry.

Not even summer turns out to be indispensable.
No person ever does. Growing up involves more out growing than vertical elevation, almost as much undoing as creating; more maintaining than acquisition. I will pretend it’s still summertime until after the clear anomaly of frost smothers the last petunia. I will frantically can a hundred pounds of this season while still able, and harbor that last fruit until it turns inedible. I swear I am not denying the inevitable.

My birthday landed in this disputed place, still summer in name only, clearly not yet fall. The season progressed this year as it has every prior one, achingly slowly at first, increasingly slippery nearer the end; an arc rather than a straight line. Once over the top, progress can’t sustain incremental. Gravity jumps on the wagon and the scenery goes blurry. Inexorability now reins. Indeterminacy replaces infinity. The end isn’t quite nigh, but closer.

We started talking about ending the exile last New Years. We first dedicated ourselves to that end, but the story still held a few unread chapters before we could close that book. The physical relocation needed initiating and encouragement, along with discouragement, then recovery, before we finally found ourselves gone. Our arrival demanded only that we dismantle our expectations with no certainty they could ever be rebuilt. We hold only promise now. Should certainty return, it will remind us that not even this new beginning emerged on anyone’s terms. We seem much less self-determined than adaptive. Nobody ever determines the terms of their engagements.

The exile ends here, as I accept that I was never in charge and continuity never was more or less than a dangerous elusion, a clear attempt to violate natural law. However I might imprint upon a place, it never becomes mine and so not mine to lose, except in my mind. The exile holds a grudge at being transplanted against his will and cannot, on purely moral grounds, accept the new terms of engagement, as if he ever owned the old terms, just as if he could ever really reject the new. We move through this place like the seasons move around us. I am not so much carried along by, but witness to the changes. The shifts themselves couldn’t care less about my presence. I increasingly accept my own irrelevance.

What do I say to the man who has everything, the man who has nothing but nothing to lose; and nothing to gain from any man who has anything, the man at the top of his game? I say, “Can those tomatoes now. Don’t worry about the price. Attend to the quality instead.” I say, “Seek neither peace nor prosperity. Expect unending challenges. Remember how eternally boring immortality felt?” I say, “Now is not the time, and never was. Time isn’t, and never really was. Now is now. Time, mere illusion.”

I now contradict almost everything I once held dear, what I once clearly believed mattered most. This world, which seems to stroll along at an inexorable pace, turns backwards and upside down along the way; and inside-out, too. My expectation that it might move along a knowable trajectory poisoned me with false discouragement which felt real enough to daunt my courage. No courage was ever needed if anyone knew the path. No faith ever demanded understanding. Disappointment is disguised surprise. Exile, a state of mind.

I weave my own webs this time of year. I smell snow but see only summertime surrounding me. This makes no sense, so I hold the somewhat sacred responsibility of making sense for it; of it. The story’s only ever elevated after the plot twists around. The lowly and annoying webs attract possibility and scream potential while prefacing certain demise. My webs seem no less audacious. Upon what terms will I continue? Last season, I imagined myself determining those terms. This season, along with the spiders, I consider accepting the terms on offer here.

I say I turn sixty four this morning, but I didn’t really turn anything to accomplish this. The world was the one turning and I was always, apparently, somehow invited along for the ride. I’m grateful for those beside me here.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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