It's not that I especially want to talk about things rotting or that I think they symbolize or clarify anything else I am feeling, but I have noticed several of them lately, so I mention them.
The nice little poppy weed: It was growing in my window well when I moved in. At first it was completely contained within the white wooden box that covers my window well. I think the white wooden box is there to deter events like robbery or the accidental stumbling of a pedestrian who might take a terrible spill into the three-foot-deep rectangular pit.
I should mention also that the white box of protection has been designed with slats of wood with slits between to let light in. When I first moved into my place I popped the screen off the window and climbed into the window well contained inside the white, wooden, slatted box of slits to clean out all the trash—the chip bags and candy wrappers—that had been deposited there by the wind and our gross society. I left a layer, or probably several, of dead leaves and weeds past their prime. I noticed also the living, thriving weeds of the late summer—most notably the poppy-type weed with leaves down the long stem, stem branching in three or so places, each of those with maybe one more split. The plant reached crescendo in a modest head that was closed. Some of the smaller branches might have been capped with these flowers. I don't remember. I'll check it out tomorrow.
I kept my eye on that little guy, the protagonist of this story. It grew quickly, noticeable development in the course of a day at the peak. That’s more than I can say for myself. One day it was ignorant, contained completely inside the white box. The next it’s head had poked completely through a slit between two slats and it saw the world. It grew before from the fraction of the sunlight that made it through the wooden box, and it found its way to an opening. Phototropism. You must understand, the slits in the box are much smaller than the slats that make up the box, maybe ¼ slits to slats. So it is impressive that the little poppy found a way out. Now, I don’t know if the plant hit the bull’s eye first try. That is to say, it may have banged its soft, closed-flower head into a board and slid along the board for a while until it slipped into a fortunate gap. I don't know. I didn’t see the actual event occur.
If one was looking out my window from inside, this poppy-looking weed was on the left side of the view. The noting of this event, this breaking through, was immediately followed by my noticing that on the right side of the window well was another poppy-type flower (obviously kin to the one we have been following), but this second flower, the one on the right, was completely brown and dead and limp against the ground and the side of the window well. Its brown deadness caused/allowed it to blend in nicely with the rest of the gross, dirty stuff laying lifeless in my window well. The interesting thing about this second flower is that it had its head several inches outside the wooden box. I looked back at the one on the left a little sad, feeling I had foreseen the closure of its mortality, the annual incarnation of the perennial inspiration.
And then the graham crackers. One day they appeared on the sidewalk just outside my house where I travel often. My first thought was that the package of graham crackers must have been flung from a car window. Understand that this was not an entire box of graham crackers fresh from the grocery store. It was just a plastic-wrapped package of graham crackers, a sub-package of the grocer's for-retail-sale box. Four or two (perhaps three, though I think probably an even number) of these smaller, plasticwrapped packages would fit inside a cardboard box labeled, "Graham Crackers" on aisle twelve (at least where I shop). While the smaller packages cannot be purchased independently, I assume the larger package goes for just under $4, perhaps trivially under $4, like $3.99. Not important. It is also not necessarily important how the crackers came to be on the sidewalk, though I will say a Heineken bottle showed up broken about fifteen feet from the graham crackers about a month later, and the way the glass was spread allowed investigators on NBC’s Law & Order to conclude it had been flung from a vehicle moving south, most likely an awkwardly-large truck, so I wouldn’t put it past the local traffic to huck objects at the outside of this place of residence. But, I admit, beer does seem like a more likely candidate to inspire the mood in which someone would feel moved to throw things from their too-big truck.
If I had to guess, I'd say the graham crackers were flung from an old beater Carolla, color sandalwood;, with the words "Grahma-Slamma" temporarily written on the side windows with shoe polish, not to be confused with the 'Gramma to the slamma' law enforcement operation that apprehends unruly elderly women in re-purposed mail delivery trucks and delivers them to the nearest correctional facility.
The graham crackers were gradually moved from the middle of the sidewalk to flush against the wall of our condominium building. I don't know what moved the crackers. It happened continuously and slowly so that it took two months or so. Wind wouldn’t do this. If pedestrians did it they sure did it strangely. Usually pedestrians just kick stuff and it's done. No light-tap-each-day-on-the-way-to-work kind of stuff. That takes vision. That makes it art. I doubt if the graham crackers are someone's art project. Maybe it was a coriolis effect: the graham crackers spinning in the non-inertial reference frame of the world, slowly approaching an inevitable impenetrable wall.
It didn't take the crackers long to grow mold and start rotting in a pretty gross way. At first it was white and mostly on one side, like there was weather in there, and a soft snowstorm glistened one morning on the east side of graham cracker bluff. But probably what happened is that the plastic wrapping became perforated in one spot when the package hit the sidewalk after being thrown from the enormous truck. Mold spores and bacteria must have entered through the perforation. We can take it to the lab and try to find the perforation under a microscope if you want.
The mold started white then evolved to contain patches of soft blues and pinks as a few weeks passed, such delicate colors like those of a child’s nursery. Now the mold is black. The entire ridge where the mold began is covered over and caved in. The mold got meaner and took over all the crackers and destroyed their culinary and structural integrity. The package is quite gross at this point, and today it is covered in snow, the first snow of the year.
The story of the third rotting being begins about a week ago, when I was pedaling up East Transit street. I saw the squirrel in the road with its guts hanging out of its mouth—soft, brown, still-healthy fur, red and purple insides like a school child blowing bubble gum. I went down a different street on my way home. But the next day I was curious. The dead animal was lying in a strip of the road where tires go, and so it had become even more mangled and smashed, run over flat, no more spherical skull, more like the end of a bag of potato chips. Its fur didn’t look so nice now. Like I said, then it snowed. The poppy was wheezing its last breaths, all but two leaves brown and shriveled. The head that had seen the light was pinned beneath the snow. The graham crackers were getting ever blacker, but from the point of view of mold/fungus enthusiasts I guess you could say they were thriving. When I heard the snowplows running I thought I had seen the last of my friend Mr. Flatsquirrel. But no, he had simply been plowed to the top of East Transit, deposited a little closer to the sidewalk. He scarcely resembled a squirrel at this point. He looked much more like a peel of the sheets of rotting leaves through which—and from which—the poppy in my window well had grown.
And so our characters continue on their paths toward their ultimate fates of complete atomic dispersion.