Somewhere in Eastwood last night, backyard camping was going on. It seems about right, this time of year. Twenty years ago, we (the merry young men of Sherwood) would be doing the same. That’s no joke. It was the neighbors who had the bigger tent and more promising backyard, so we’d stake the woodland shelter up to spend many a summer nights. We didn’t spend the whole summer out there, however. These camping stints, which grew more complex through the years, were allowed in spurts and dished out like treats, and this was because we kept most of the neighborhood up at night. We’d hear about it from our parents the next morning.
The Scenic Route (or Flying Home)
[You cannot continue unless you hit the “Play Button,” by clicking the link above. It’s only appropriate that this post comes with a soundtrack.]
The smell of the floor of the tent quickly flowered in my mind and nostrils. That warm plastic smell. It’s hard to forget, because it was always waiting when the dwelling was unzipped; the longer the tent sat in the sun, the stronger the smell. That’s the way it went and still goes. As the glow of flashlights burst through the thick opaque walls, the glow of the memory of ours rattled loudly — the sound of the batteries shifting, getting comfortable while producing an indestructible beam.
This beam is similar to the headlights of my car, my aging economically-favorable sedan that’s probably seen better days, as it rolls down James Street. Eric Cohen of WAER spoke of Paul Russo’s recent passing and his association with Central New York’s music scene, jazz scene, all the while reminiscing about the Salt City Jazz Collective. A Nancy Kelly-fronted tune ended the 10-o’clock hour before my silencing the radio. Yet, the Herbie Mann and Sam Most team with “Flying Home,” those notes floated around the humid car and bounced off my head and nose, but not in the sense of pesky flies to sweat from the melodic sex that is jazz.
My hands were firmly planted on it as my mind drifted. With a slight nod of recognition, obeying hands persuaded the car to make odd turns through the streets of Syracuse. As the flute notes played on, the treads on of the tires kicked up any stray water droplets from the ground, sending them back to clack on the ground as Mann hit the pitched notes. The slowing of the tires on the pavement sounded like the brushes upon the drums, and this was to an actual red light stop.Columbus Baking Company sat quietly, but the residual aroma still created craving havoc on the street. The graceful lamplight-dressed Franklin Square was breathing lightly through its mouth while easing into slumber, emphasizing the continual exhales from the spouts of the fountain. The unbending construction blockades caused my car to pinball its way back and over and around through uncertain routes. Now the West Genesee Street gateway to Tipperary Hill is boarded up; scratch that noise and it’s time to venture around it all. The leisurely Zen trip home was also disrupted by construction. Yet, Harrison Bakery still had some life left in it at this peak of the night, shrugging the dirt off its shoulders and plugging away to make those half moons, poppy seed rolls, headlights, and other delights for us to continually enjoy.
Yet, through and alongside the Solvay-Tipperary divide, through Westvale (and a lingering reminder to visit Kava Cafe tomorrow is well overdue), and through Fairmount. The many nights back in the high school days where we ventured around (when gasoline was under $1.50) for no reason, playing music — would make our parents cringe — at unreasonable volume. A quick game of mini golf at Fairmount Glen (for old times sake) was denied as quickly as the urge to play a round popped in my head.
It’s time to head on home, hit that pillow, and drift.
And those are the some of the reasons to keep driving these streets on a regular basis. As I found my way home-home, there was a good half hour spent flying around home.