Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

I remember seeing a picture once of the Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In this picture there was young woman tenderly holding a baby and smiling. The woman had on loose, flowing clothing. She had beautiful and long chestnut hair. The baby in the picture was just small and mostly covered by a white blanket. Maybe the baby was smiling, too. They sat together like that the smiling woman and the baby on a carpet or shawl or scarf, or some fabric like that. Directly behind them was the side of a maroon van with the side door open. It looked like an Econoline.

There was a tarp erected from the side of the van outwards, to provide shade for the woman and the baby seated in the sun of the Kill Devil Hills, that small desert. Smiling.
That photo was taken in the summer of 1973, two years before the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam.
I was four months old in that picture. My mother and I were waiting for my father, who was sailing off of the dunes, hang gliding. I loved that picture but I can not find it anymore.

I had just finished my second day of eight hours
straight-armed-hauling, no pulley, five-gallon pails of wet pea-gravel up a 12 foot wall and then dumping it behind me, on the other side of the frame. We were building a swimming pool at a country club in West Vancouver. We had finally met grade and were done. But it was funny because I imagined that I was a slave in ancient Egypt, building for life. It made things seem more interesting as I envisioned a large statue of Horus, and my blood and sweat and strain and loss would make that statue. I also imagined how the pool would look in one year, with aqua-yoga classes, or whatever. But I also thought of when I was a boy and loved the pool at Kinsmen in Edmonton.

The country club is on the side of a mountain in West Vancouver. The land is beautiful. In the morning I love the smell when I am standing by the tool trailer. It isn't construction, but the smell of the cool air rushing down the mountain as the sun rises. It smells like 5 a.m. camping, before the fire. It makes me feel new, too.

I like the work. I am on a roof, there, framing, chipping concrete, zip-disking rebar and sometimes smoking a Marlboro.
I get to look out over the mountainside and down to the water. I see the ships go out and the birds are curious as the trees stand close to me, dwarfing me even when working on the second floor.

After the last bucket of pea-gravel had been filled, lifted and dumped, I carefully stood on the top of the frame at the deep end of the soon pool. Above the pool there is a large circular window that looks North up the mountain. I did my best to lean back a little without falling and out of that window I saw the para-gliders coming off of the peak of the mountain. They flew beautifully and seemed to just keep catching the same updraft as they flew from side to side. I didn't watch for too long because I was tired but at the same time I wished I was there, too. It made me think of that picture in Kill Devil Hills.

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