Monday, 14 October 2013


Thanksgiving for the Year’s Best Month

The garden has been weeded and cut back. Some stray flora has been dug out and disposed of. The patio furniture has been stored as the salt, snow shovels and ice chipper have come out of hibernation. The lawn, still green, is raked and pristine until a gentle breeze and its rain of floating, drifting leaves serves as a reminder of the myth of Sisyphus and the futility of it all.

You eye your neighbours’ trees and they eye yours and both of you eyeball the property line and the tinderbox is smouldering, maybe one midnight Rolling Stones noise complaint away from a feud fueled by the fall. Communication is reduced to a grunt accompanied by a squint. There’s so much testosterone in the neighbourhood even as everything else is wilting. And if the bastard has a leaf blower, well, it means war but maybe you glean a moment’s insight into the world’s most messed up places, the Middle East, Capitol Hill or any poor, post-colonial country run by an ‘elected’ dictator: the silliness and insanity of everything everywhere else. A few stray orange and yellow leaves don’t amount to much more than an extra yard bag anyway.

Chances are both you and the bastard with the leaf blower are wearing caps and sweatshirts. Chances are they’ve all got logos on them. Chances are they’re all sports related merchandise. Chances are both you and the bastard with the leaf blower follow the same league’s schedule. Perhaps you’re even part of the same tribe, some team’s fan nation in which you’re the seventh, tenth, 12th or 13th man - similar to a character in a Graham Greene story but not fogged in by a dreadful shroud of moral ambivalence.

Weather talk is an easy connection with a stranger or neighbour, after all winter’s coming, it’s October. No one gets excited about the prospect of freezing in the dark, but consider sports at the moment: soccer is being played all over the world, basketball is starting up, the two pro football leagues on this continent are going full bore as are university squads in both Canada and the United States, baseball is moving closer to the World Series, hockey’s back and the scores matter on so many levels, somewhere there’s car racing and golf, maybe figure skating too – and it’s all on hi-def television and it’s virtually impossible for feuding neighbours not to drop their rakes and leaf blowers and commune over lesser and more entertaining conflicts.

October! Sports! Thanksgiving!

Somewhere a long way from the mostly leafless front lawns on this street, a TV network executive, an advertiser, an advertising account director and a media buyer are giving thanks this October for sports broadcasting. In the here and now, games are the last real time events left alive in this the Digital Age.

And later, neighbours lean on their rakes and turn off their blowers to ask each other, ‘Did you see that play!?’

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