July 29, 2003


Today in Hood River it was 103 degrees in the shade. 103 degrees also happens to be the melting point of bone. Everyone’s bones were melting and their bodies were falling like wet rugs in the street. They would think, “I think I’ll go to the Thai place to get some Thai food,” but they would never make it because it’s hard to walk that many blocks with your bones sloshing around under your skin.

Some of the people were trying to walk around town and get used to their new haircuts. Their old hair covered their ears like a bonnet, and now that they are without a bonnet they sunburn their ears easily. They didn’t even realize their ears were burning until they smelled the neighbors barbequing, even though the neighbors were microwaving TV dinners of potted meat and corn. You can’t barbeque TV dinners, of course, so eventually they decided it wasn’t the neighbors that smelled so delicious.

You smell a lot of things in Hood River that may or may not be delicious. A long time ago your ancestors were out and about in the world, probably hunting rabbits or someone else’s ancestors. When your ancestors would smell woodsmoke it told them they were close to home. “Just over this next hill,” they would think, and so you think too, because this kind of thing is passed down through blood and sweat.

In Hood River when you smell woodsmoke it makes you chew your bottom lip, but not because you think it is delicious. Other reasons. No one in their right mind would want to make woodsmoke to welcome their ancestors home, especially when it is already 103 degrees out. In Hood River the smell of woodsmoke will be the last thing you smell before the town burns up and gets in your eyes. When you haven’t felt rain for two and a half months you know there is darn little between you and stinging eyes.

These are the things you think about as you chew your bottom lip and watch your bones run in the gutter.

I stand corrected. It was not 103 degrees in Hood River yesterday. It was only 108 degrees in Hood River yesterday.