APRIL 19, 2009


It's been a disquieting week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The last storm of the season swept on through here, leaving the skies muscular with clouds and sungold as in an old Joni Mitchel song.

The evenings have been cool and inclined to chill without danger of frost, so all the gardeners have been out digging among the tubers and rare earth.

Nevertheless, we are reminded that this is the most dangerous season of all. .

Spring is the most dangerous season in Northern California. Maybe it is different in other places, but here, wise men remain indoors and order pizza for dinner, hunker down by the TV to watch endless reruns of Monster Truck Destruction and Terminator I, II, III and Iv. Its safer cuddled there in the dark lit only by the blackout curtain blocked TV set glow.

Bees dive-bombing the clover, hummingbirds bayonetting the lavendar that is throwing out punches this way and that. Army ants on the march and squirrels conducting reconnaissance forays add to the mayhem, while racoons begin nightly raids. The daisy bush bursts with yellow ack-ack blooms while the poppies are erupting with tiny explosions across the fields. Squadrons of swallows and Canadian geese streak overhead and then, worst of all, there are the girls in their summer dresses.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, flying in stealth mode -- that naked fat boy keeps firing off at random his erring arrows of wanton mishap, those IEDs (Improvised Erotic Designs).

Here comes Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence. But after him comes Jane, armed with those sharpshooter eyes, that flippy short skirt, and strappy high heels.

Now Johnnie is down! His face wan and his appetite poor, his breath coming out in ragged gasps as Jane cradles his head among the wildly blooming daisies. Its the heart, poor lad.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season.

Javier went to an art gallery opening and ran into a pretty gal from San Leandro. Literally. They kept bumping into one another going down the street from the parking lot and by the time they reached the door, poor Javier was head over heels, or imagined he was. They bumped together more often than bumper cars at a Disney carnival ride and Javier felt sure it must mean something. As it turned out, she had left her contacts in the car and simply had difficulty navigating the terrain that evening. Javier had seemed harmless enough, so she had simply used his body as a sort of human guard rail.

She was a pretty thing with close cropped hair set in ringlets as Javier imagined the ancient Greek goddesses would have done. And she wore a leather jacket with high boots, which the ancient Greek goddesses probably would not have, but nevermind.

She was a woman. And he was a man. In love. Or something similar. As they talked he stopped hearing entirely what she was saying and had a vision of her screaming in ecstasy in a wildly blooming field of golden poppies while wearing nothing more than a velvet choker and a pillbox hat.

In conversation it developed she was an Urban Planner and something something. Forgot her contacts. Sorry for bumping into him like that.

Javier heard little in a fog of erotic mist. They seemed to be talking about art and auctions and stuff.

". . . and my three children. My husband looks after them while I am at work."

A slow trickle of very cold, ice cold water began sliding down the middle of Javier's back. This trickle became a torrent, a virtual cascade of gushing effluent from a rocky glacier in the alps somewhere very picturesque, but hardly erotic, and this torrent soon became rife with blocks of ice that knocked against his skull with splintering impact.

She was married. With three children. Hell and damn!

He left at the first excuse.

Later, he met with Schmidt, the Island-Life photographer. It was hard not to meet with him as he had a timeshare arrangment for the bunk slot at Marlene and Andre's household. Because rents had risen so obnoxiously, people had taken to timesharing their beds to make the monthly payments to the landlord.

I zee you haff zee Liebeskummer, said Schmidt over beers in the kitchen. Iss oldt problem. You vant to schtupp diese Dame, ja. Undt, iss verboten. Naturlich. Liebeskummer.


Liebeskummer iss vot you haff venn zee balls turn ze color blue, ja? Iss not so goot.

Javier had to agree on that point.

My friendt, here is problem mit ze loff und alles dazu. You are yourself, ja? Undt she is ze professional vomen off zee odder velt. She knows not der Rolf who is Pink Pussycat doorman. She knows not breadsoup mit Marlene and Andre. She knows none of zeese sleeping arrangements here. She knows not dumpster diving in May at ze Berkeley Uni student dorms. She knows none of zese things. She knows of de arts and vonderful opera and zee prancing ballet undt de magazines und I. Magnin undt Nordstrom undt Macy's.

You, on ze odder hand, must only be a visitor. Forever ausgeschlossen, ja. So ist das. A real newshound you are. Go for de news. Keep clear of all ze odder sings. Romance undt loff sings. Much better for you. Find a factory maid to keep you happy if you must, but zese society ladies. . . . Non! Not your metier. As ze French say. Undt ze French are much much better at ze loff sings dan you.

With that, Schmidt turned and went back into his seemingly eternal darkroom from which he turned out his extraordinary creations. For me iss ze sublimation. Yost imagine it could be vurs; you could be Tcherman undt nobody on ze planet loffs you undt your accent.

Meanwhile Pedro Almeida had felt the onrush of the new Season and he and his wife had gone out to the boat El Borracho Perdido in the early dawn and the ship's mast was still swaying back and forth long after the time when the boat should have been put out at sea. But then, this was Easter Sunday and past the Passover, so a bit of relaxation was in order. All along the marina, in fact, ships that normally put out at this time were seen to be swaying their masts, with long langorous arcs that described the heavens. Or something heavenly. While "zee loff sing" went on in their respectively dark, bumping, and penetrable holds and all the gulls stood about laughing to themselves on the pier.

It is California, with its mixture of all things at all times. Wondrous and golden with opportunity at every moment.

And that is the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.