Day 1308 – Reporting On…
59 Degrees and cloudy. Light rain. That fluke snow a while back proved to be just that, a fluke. NOAA is reporting the freezing level to be up around 7000 feet with a forecast it will descend to 5000 feet by end of day sunday but that still keeps the snow well above the valley. The forecast for the valley includes one of my favorites out here: dry rain.
Halloween was last night. It came and went with no problems. Kid-count was, by my estimation, lower than last year, but Annette was attending to them this time, so my count is probably off.
What’s the real story today? Listen:
Our neighbor across the street’s name is Jeff. He’s a skinny-as-a-beanpole man i would guestimate to be in his late 50’s. We’re not best buds or anything, but we used to talk as neighbors do from time to time. He likes cats. He has a pure white non-albino shorthair that sits in the front window from time to time. I call her “ghost” but i don’t know her real name. Mora likes to hang at Jeff’s place and often sits on his concrete walk. I’ve asked him repeatedly if she poops in his yard or anything. He, with what i’ve come to recognize as a typical economy of language, says no and she’s welcome anytime.
He studies and collects flags. He has a flagpole out back and changes what’s flying weekly if not more frequently. Some i recognize. Some i can look up on the net. Now and then, if i catch him, i’ll ask what’s up the pole. “Oh, that… that’s a civil war marching flag from ….” He goes on for some length explaining the significance and proper use of the flag.
Jeff is a clinic administrator at the local prison. The prison is located about 5 miles south of Boise on, ironically, Pleasant Valley Rd. He once referred to it as “the pleasant valley country club.” Years earlier we had another neighbor down the street who had a creepy teen son. Jeff dryly pointed out “expect i’ll be seeing him at work any day now.”
Annette served with Jeff on a suicide prevention committee while she was still employed by Boise State. She said he was just about the only other person there who didn’t come to hear themselves speak. I picture the two of them, on opposite sides of a meeting, sharing one or two exasperated glances.
I suspect he is divorced and often projects a certain level of world-weariness. Yet that weariness departs when he speaks about the Idaho backcountry. He and i spoke several times about the Idaho City yurts. We both liked the view from the outhouse at Whispering Pines. He accurately and enthusiastically described the view from the ridge en route to the Banner Ridge yurt. He traveled extensively. He would disappear for weeks at a time only to reappear one Monday morning. Again, if i happened to catch him, he’d say “i was hiking in Patagonia… just great.”
He also jogged every day. He’d depart for work fairly early and return usually before i would and go jogging down the street, around the cemetery and then back home. Could set your watch by him.
Oh, and he was, I suspect, an audiophile. The UPS guy once delivered some boxes that, i think, said Denon or Onkyo or something like that. On days when our departure for work synced up i could often hear jazz playing in his car. He always had a walkman on when mowing his lawn.
Jeff’s house was dark for weeks a little while back, but it was no surprise since he’d mentioned once how fall was his favorite season to hike. And then i saw a car in the drive i’d seen many times before. I suspect it belonged to his son who was often accompanied by a young woman with wonderful long curly hair. As it happened that woman was coming out carrying a box. I crossed the street toward her.
“Hi, i’m Jeremy… i’ve seen you here a few times, i was wondering what Jeff has been up to.”
“Oh… hi… i’m his daughter-in-law. Uh, Jeff died. Almost a month back. Complications from diabetes.”
We spoke a bit more, but i was effectively stunned… and, to my own surprise, unable to form a sentence. I was so sure she would say he was off camping in Tiera Del Fuego or something. I mumbled something inspired from “Six Feet Under” and headed back across the street.