The first rain of the year


The first rain of the year last night.  Just a little sprinkle really.  But enough to inspire panic and dread in the hearts of the street people. . .  Its like spotting the first few enemy invaders way off in the distance.  But knowing the hordes are right behind them.  And they’ll be descending on you all too soon.  Wave after wave of them.  And it’s going to be a battle to the death.

I remember a couple of winters ago we got like  35 inches of rain.  And I was outdoors for every inch of it.  It seemed to go on forever that year.  This 8-month ordeal . . .  The worst thing is:  You make one mistake and you can end up spending the next several weeks staggering around in wet socks and sleeping in a wet sleeping bag.

Seems like every year there will be one old-timer that doesn’t make it through the winter.  I remember a couple years ago, 2009, it was New York, this little black guy who died of exposure in a doorway.  Right around Christmas, which added a poignant touch.  New York had been around the Telegraph Avenue scene forever.  About 50.  For a little guy he had this amazingly booming voice.  Like he had a megaphone in his diaphragm.  You could hear him from a block away.  And this explosive, braying laughter.  Usually smiling.  Started every sentence with “HEY!”  Often worked odd jobs for the street vendors and Tele businesses.  Sweeping sidewalks, etc.  Usually carrying his conga drum slung over his shoulder.  In the evening he’d find a quiet place to smoke his weed and drink his Olde English.  During the day he’d often hang out in the campus cafeteria with the black guy who was the head janitor at the Student Union building. . . .  I was out of town that winter so I asked the guy what happened to New York.  And he filled me in on the details.  “New York was my best friend,” he said.

Another winter is coming fast.


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