I. Prologue: Illinois Itinerants.
Itinerant. Now there's a good word I don't use, have never used, to my recollection. It means "passing about a country". That's the adjective, as in "itinerant laborer" or "itinerant preacher". But there's also a noun version: "one who travels from place to place".
And I'm thinking this might be fitting for us as we head to Chicago tomorrow, knowing the route I'm looking at taking, off-highway, through all those random little Illinois farm towns, Raymond and Stonington; Blue Mound and Boody; Pontiac and Ransom...
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In his story "First Love and Other Sorrows," from the 1950s he wrote:
"Toward the end of March, in St. Louis, slush fills the gutters, and dirty snow lies heaped alongside porch steps, and everything seems to be suffocating in the embrace of a season that lasts too long. Radiators hiss mournfully, no one manages to be patient, the wind draws tears from your eyes, the clouds are filled with sadness. Women with scarves around their heads and their feet encased in fur-lined boots pick their way carefully over patches of melting ice. It seems that winter will last forever, that this is the decision of nature and nothing can be done about it."
Harold, you nailed it. It blew like a beast today. There isn't any slush left in the gutters, but there was not long ago. The radiators have all been scrapped and women maybe don't wear scarves about their heads like they used to—but they are still wearing Uggs. And I am not being patient.
My body is in
perfect balance right now
but I miss all radiators.
We’ll drink together
(said one radiator to another)
and the heating oil inside us
will go up by as much as
thirty-two dollars a barrel.
They both chuckle like wineslaves.
I awake to the sounds of a coup.