Patch

The slightest utterance of rain spoke to my skylight last night. Tiny words tumbled from the skies where there were no stars. I expected something more like the cheer of a roaring crowd, maybe even a full orchestra with kettledrums and all, instead of this insignificant tinkling of a vocabulary. The weatherman has such a grip over me. Now in these days when I have time to be outdoors more, my biggest retirement benefit, I find myself listening to him when I should know better, because he has been wrong so many times before.

Even yesterday he was wrong. I had tidied up outside, waiting for some midnight rain, and saw none. When I watch the forecast, I think that maybe it should be called the flubbed cast. What the weatherman says one day he un-says the next. I have been out anyhow, repairing some potholes in my asphalt driveway the last couple of days, thinking I might have to do some of the work in the wet. The one pothole was pretty big. It was not very deep, but sure was wide, making me think that with winter rains coming more of the bed of asphalt surrounding it would become loosened. I bought the wrong kind of asphalt for this repair job. It was brick hard, and nearly impossible to work with. My brother-in-law, down from the Sierras for a day, his habit lately when finishing his salesmanship tasks in Silicon Valley, offered to help me with the repair job. We worked the cold asphalt for quite some time and realized how tough it would be to break it up into smaller pieces and tamp it into the potholes. I got the bright idea to pour gasoline on the asphalt before trying to break it up and spread it.

I think I’ve finally figured out how to slow down the crazy speeders on our road. Pyromaniac exhibitions seem to fascinate them. Speed and fire must be very closely related in some corner of the human consciousness. Rubberneckers would come to a near complete stop and marvel over the site of my driveway burning brightly in the cloudy morning light. I was taught many years ago to respect gasoline, so I’ve never really used it for any other purpose than running a gasoline engine, but now I can attest to the fact that if used carefully, sparingly, that it also serves pretty well as a method of heating up asphalt.

Friends of the neighbor boy across the road stopped in amazement and asked us what we were doing. The one guy has a pickup truck that produces an awful lot of noise as he pulls in and out of the driveway across the road. He loves to back up into my driveway at the bottom of my hill, and spin his tires madly in potholes, spraying gravel everywhere, each day making the holes a little bigger. So all of this work that I was doing went toward preventing him from having more fun. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I perceived a hint of sadness on his face when he saw that he could no longer spin tires here. The fire somehow worked its way down inside of him, I believe. He could see how intent I was on not having my driveway any further torn up. It is such a small detail of life, and yet it engaged me. It took time to buy the materials, to get out my tools, to dare to play with the gasoline, and so this morning I look proudly at two new and rather large patches of asphalt.

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