When I was a kid, I lived near a tree farm. I liked to walk around after it had rained and feel the sticks and small pebbles underneath my bare kid-feet in the mud. My parents of course hated that, which made me love it all the more. If it hadn’t rained, the robotically perfect rows and columns of those thin, tall pine trees would have been filled with teenagers and paint-guns. Thus, I appreciated the opportunity that the rain provided. Sometimes I would stumble upon leftover paintballs. You could poke them with a sharp and small stick and they would pop, oozing an iridescent pigment in the dirt. Sometimes I drew pictures or symbols on tree trunks with the paint on my finger. I would stay as long as there was even the slightest hint of light left in those big Texas skies.
I guess this must have been 2003 or so. The forest is gone now. In its’ place are roads and pharmacies and banks and houses, built from the very wood that this once great adventure-place was grown for in the first place. Stop lights, headlights, tail-lights, street lights now blink ceaselessly throughout the night of my once beloved sanctuary.
This area was also a favored loafing and loitering spot as well as dumping-ground for various degenerates of the scattered community, surrounding. Computers, TVs, mostly broken things. We found a dog there; well we say that she found us and we kept her. We named her Honey. My brother and I even found a gun once. He said it was a paintball gun, and took it for himself. He kept it in one of the two heavy wood bedside drawers he inherited from our dad’s mom. Those deep dark drawers were always filled with the most interesting things. Pins, cigarettes, lighters, pictures and notes from girls at school, CDs scribbled with the names of bands that I was determined to like. Sometimes there were tools for his skateboard, grip tape, stuff like that. I loved rummaging through those drawers. They were filled with mystery, and sometimes paintballs.
The paintballs were exciting, but it wasn’t my favorite part. My favorite part about these post-rain wanderings was that, in the longest, dim-lit and wet evenings of summer, I would collect my treasures, muddy my pockets with tiny objects I deemed as worthy of a place in my brother’s drawers, until almost no light could penetrate the tops of the man-made forest. In the silence, a song of small sparks illuminated the space between me and the trees. Like dancing spores. Like stars. Like paintballs, but alive and moving all the time. They made no noise, and pulsed slightly with a sweet honey glow. As summer ended the nights become shorter; so the shorter this ballet of light became, and so the sweeter, too.