Saturday, May 1, 2021

Watchin' The Crack Stroll

 I live in a town that has yet to break the four figure population mark.  People here in large part take pride in their homes, and the city takes good care of the public spaces and the infrastructure.  I live in the part that has actual sidewalks too!  It's funny - I can stand out in front of the house and look down East toward the Sumas River Bridge, where the sidewalk comes to an abrupt end, right there at the city limits. No sidewalk for you!  Buncha peasants.

Sumas is a heritage community, meaning it was a city long before there was an America, and even before there was a border between Canada and America. Nobody seemed to mind too much.  Sumas back then was the name of a stretch of natural prairie that ran diagonally from the foothills of Mt. Baker up into Canada and stopped at, um, this mountain that I can see from my kitchen but I don't know the name of; but the Sumas River runs along the foot of it.

Back in the long ago, the Canadians did a lot of hydrological-ag land use stuff to the Sumas River and it's tributaries that would never fly today.  In Canada it runs through controlled channels and has shunt stations for large scale crop irrigation. Here, it is a rut in the mud that does not deserve the name 'river' and how that distinction was even arrived at puzzles me because it is clearly A CRICK.

There are three cricks in Sumas:  Bone Crick, Johnson Crick, and the Sumas River.  You can literally step across the Sumas River.  It is no more that eight feet deep at it's deepest here in the middle of town at the city park, where it was dredged for swimming years before.  No swimming now, boy.  And it's funny.  There's nothing wrong with the water.  The Sumas River is our drinking water; there's a pumping station and probably a few filters, and that's it, just a small installation meant mainly to control water pressure.  

When I was a kid you could not have kept me out of that thing.  You could not have kept any kid out of any crick.  What the fuck, children of today?  Are tadpoles no longer awesome? Are water salamanders and frogs and sticklebacks uncool? Is the prospect of finding an old rusty pistol (I did) just boring as shit or something?  And what about making dams, which is the most awesome fun ever? GET OUTSIDE AND GO MAKE A DAM IN THE CRICK YOU LAZY NO GOOD KIDS. 


Every day around 11:A.M. the crack customers start walking past my house, headed for the apartments the next block down.  That is where the community crack dealer lives, and there's a pair of shoes hanging over the telephone line and everything, nobody has any illusions about the situation, the police have discussed it with me as a known factor in passing (and clearly something they're in no hurry to put a stop to) and so...there ya go.

The customers are friendly people.  If I'm out around 11:A.M. we'll stand and talk a bit.  They walk past quietly, go into the complex, cop, and then 45 minutes later they come a-stridin' back down the sidewalk, snapping and sparking, yelling at people on their cell phones, drawn up tight and rigid like someone with a spinal traction brace, got a purpose and a destination and there they go.

I have never taken crack - which I find odd too, don't worry.  I don't know what it does to you.  I've heard a lot of different things, and hell, I might try it some day, if it comes my way.  The impression I get from what I observe is that it's like espresso for the unemployed.  

These folks have this daily routine down to a science.  They find a way to get cash, they adhere to a strict schedule, they manage not to get caught, they do their thing and go straight back home.  No flailing down the middle of the street naked.  No shouting at cars or trees.  Presumably they just go home and hang out in the dark playing WoW or Mario Kart or something, eat some Cheetos, and fall asleep.  I've lived in the same little town for over twenty years with these people, and they manage to have some sort of a life, and are perfectly ordinary and acceptable folks...who like crack.  Or meth. I don't know. 

My point is, I guess, here I am in deepest, darkest rural America, and there's people out here who have been living full on meth-based lives for decades. Just getting through their days.

In the early 1900's, the kindly ol' country doc would get the whole family addicted to heroin and then pass out Iron Butterflies and teach them how to shoot up. (Hey, it's how my grandmother got her scarlet paperver somniferums - a doctor gave her the seeds and asked her to grow it for him.  He compounded his own opiates.  Yup.) Every home had a fancy syringe in a velvet lined box with different sized needles to screw onto the end; I remember seeing them in people's homes.  They'd keep it in the sideboard and if someone got run through a threshing machine, out came the needle and the vial. By the time I came along it was just something that people kept in their display cabinets, like the octagon shaped vials for opium with chinese labels, and the cloissone opium pipes, with a chamber for a live coal.  

Ten, twenty years down the road, maybe someone will be saying 'Oh that there?  That's Grandpa's crack pipe.  And that's Aunt Lucy's bong.  There's Uncle Edwards vape pen...oh, we all thought that was pretty impressive stuff, those vape pens..."


Jon said...

Probably best not to get your "cricks" and your "cracks" mixed up round your neck of the woods. Jx

anne marie in philly said...

what empty lives. :(

the dogs' mother said...

Nice to meet you! Back in the day,
About the mid-60s, my father would
drive us from our home in Vancouver,
BC to ski at Mt. Baker. Yes, he was
a ski nut until forbidden by his
doctor in his old age. Every single
weekend would find him and my very
patient mother on a mountain.

John Going Gently said...

New reader, hello!!!!
Over from sparrow tree although I know anime Marie well xx

savannah said...

I miss living in a small town! LA is overwhelming at times and so different from when I left. While I'm looking forward to being able to be out and about again, I'm in no rush to do so with all the covidiots around! xoxo