Saturday Morning, Redux
Ye gods, Constant Reader…autumn is here.
After a week of dreary grey skies, wind, and fairly constant lashings of cold rain, the sun finally came out today with some enthusiasm, so out I went and found it waiting for me.
Though the clouds have abated for the moment and the winds were calm, it was downright chilly today. Autumn chilly, no mistake about it. That’s no joke for me, the MS affects the muscles controlling circulation in my limbs, and they often get clammy to the touch, noticeably cooler than normal body temperature. Add to this the fact that my year round uniform is shorts and a T shirt since with my train wreck of a body I can’t deal with buttons, snaps, zippers or long pants. Even with a lap blanket, when it’s chilly the blistering top speed of my chair (5.4 mph going downhill) makes for enough relative wind to have me shivering, and my left hand was curled up like a spider after being poked by the time I reached my destination.
Still and all, it was a lovely morning and I very much enjoyed the trek out to my flying site. You can’t miss the different feeling in the air, the angle of the sun and the look of the sky you get with autumn. Leaves are already falling, even though it was still emphatically summer only a couple of weeks ago and the temperatures at midday were hinting at blast furnace levels.
I really like autumn, it’s my favorite season followed by spring, then summer respectively. Winter I haven’t much use for, it’s grim, dismal, cold and dead. Autumn is subtler and more complex, just a bit melancholy in a dreamy, wistful sort of way. I’ve come a long way from when I was a kid…I hated fall then with a passion. Summer vacation’s over, and for me the whole back-to-school thing that so many enjoy was for me more like a return to prison after being paroled. Being forced to spend more time around my parents wasn’t the funnest thing, either…without going into too much sordid detail, back then my folks weren’t the stereotypical Robert Young and Jane Wyatt type by a long stretch…let’s just say they had some issues and were extremely good at coming up with new and improved ways to put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’ on a regular basis. My mom, bless her, got over the worst of hers, but my dad went to his grave still proudly displaying his timeworn but well-polished Miserable Bastard merit badge. Ah, well.
Since I grew to adulthood, though, I’ve learned to really enjoy and relish the autumn season. We get some pretty fall colors even here in Tennessee, and of course there’s the holiday season to look forward to…and I do, the secret is not to overdo things and keep focused on what I believe are the very real, positive aspects holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year celebration can offer. No rush, mind you, I’ll be busy taking in the fall.
One of the very few good things about multiple sclerosis, at least for me, is a noticeably higher sensitivity to subtle nuances you find even in the mundane things in the world. That hint of melancholy I mentioned is stronger for me these days than when I was healthy, a not unpleasant sense of longing that can almost be savored like a well-brewed tea…and like tea it doesn’t have much in the way of body or substance, but it certainly has a distinctive flavor.
With my relatively new paradigm of motoring about the neighborhood in my powered chair, as the weather cools it means the end of my flying season, no two ways about it. Flying model aircraft is one of the few real joys I have left in my life, and its absence for several months will be keenly felt. Even that’s okay by me, though, since I’m planning some serious therapy this winter in the form of attempting to build some models for next spring, a big unknown for me, given the loss of function in my left hand. That’s why it’s therapeutic, like flying my planes or helicopter, building things demands I use that hand, and I’ve already been pleasantly surprised by the workarounds I’ve been able to learn to fly well and perform other tasks that I’d previously thought weren’t doable. Being left-handed and losing most of the use of that hand is daunting, but learning those workarounds has encouraged me, as well as the fact that my ‘dumb’ right hand has also picked up a lot of the slack.
In short, there appears to be life in the old dog yet. It’ll be slow going, but I think if I can keep my temper and not blow any gaskets I’ll produce some good results. My first project is a tiny replica of the Great War era Sopwith Triplane, as represented by a kit predominantly constructed of Depron foam and balsa. I expect it’ll be a royal pain to build even though I’d have considered it brainlessly simple just a few short years ago…but the lure and promise of the finished bird is all the motivation I need. Even unpainted it looks glorious to my eyes:
This morning, though, I was mainly concerned with getting my chilled and curled hand behaving at least a little. When I reached my parking lot/aerodrome, I unloaded my gear and found it as useless as I feared it would be. Lecturing and threatening it didn’t seem to do much, so lacking any facility for warming it up, I just sat on it. Yep, I sat on my hand like a chicken warming an egg.
By the by, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I strongly recommend that you healthy folks avoid developing any neurological diseases like MS…not only is it incredibly annoying, it really does cramp the old lifestyle. Yeah, lame attempt at humor…sue me.
Sitting on my hand actually seemed to work, and before long I got my little Aeronca Champ airborne and doing its thing, which is mainly gently flying around and looking pretty. For me, the sight of a classic aircraft purring around in the sky is like balm for the soul, and I enjoyed the time I spent this morning thoroughly. When I decided to call it quits, the airplane cooperated by rewarding me with a perfect landing and I taxied it back to my feet, thinking kind thoughts about this little contraption of foam and little electronic biscuits that gives me so much pleasure.
On the return trip home, the day had warmed a bit, but I wasn’t fooled. The occasionally falling leaves, the tilt of the sun, along with the other things I’ve talked about here were the giveaway Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, the poet Robert Herrick wrote some time ago, as an excerpt from his work instructs:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
See? Pretty but a bit sad and wistful, the way I feel about this time of year. In a similar vein, since I’ve already admitted that I believe everything in life should be set to music, I’ll leave you to consider this piece from a different time…
…Okay, okay, I know the song is a bit hackneyed these days, it’s actually about winter, not autumn, and I have no longing in my heart at all for California. Visiting it once was enough, and with all due respect to any denizens of that state who may be reading this, I wouldn’t choose to live there, which goes double for L.A., a city I wouldn’t live in on a dare. Still, for some reason this song just works for me and I always hear it echoing in my head at this time of year.