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Monday, April 13, 2015

CATFISH THE TALKING CAR



Another crazy day. A cloud resting on the mountain since early morning. Sometimes it precipitates a mist, sometimes a short, light rain, mostly fog. Out the window I can't see past the fence to the donkey meadow. Out another window, can't see the other side of the road. Fog this dense is beautiful to me like a sunshine day, a day of snowing, any weather. I tend to be in agreement with the variety of weather as it is happening. Fog gives the green world the appearance of a Japanese screen and renders the whole outdoors a Japanese garden. The balance of wet and dry is essential to life forms like the balance of light and dark. I like the rain to keep the ground moist for the life forms rooted in the ground and for the forms that eat the ones with roots. Donkeys eat seeds to wildflowers and spread them around the meadow. Went out a little bit ago to make photos of the green world in fog and the glistening colors wet. Wild violet and jewelweed seedlings peep through the ground cover leaves from last fall. Stillness in the air. The windchimes ting one to three notes. Today was the day I was to take car to mechanic to have new horns installed. Friday, when I backed down to the barn for a trunkload of hay, I noticed afterward the car left a string of transmission fluid pearls on the asphalt in the path I'd taken across the road. Oh no. Another problem to solve. The ground was too wet in the low place I drive through to the barn. Slip and side. Made big ruts. Six mudslinging runs building up momentum toward the slope that goes up to the road covered in grass that grew through the gravel. I'd get up it a ways, momentum would cease, tires spin and smoke, nothing to do but back up to the barn and make another run for it. The tires spinning through the mud packed the grooves between the treads, tires slick and wet, unable to get a grip on damp grass.



I walked back to the house to call Justin. He was getting off work and would be here in a while with his truck and chain. Crossing the road I saw the line of transmission fluid. My heart sank. I was down there in the mud shifting forward and backward, forward and backward, getting unstuck from the mud. I thought of the strain I'd put on the transmission and it low to empty of fluid. What have I done? Justin arrived, had me drive the car as far up the slope as I could. He hooked the chain to it, a chain my car was no contest for. He pulled me up out of there so smoothly it felt like I was driving out. Smooth and even, not a hesitation or a jerk. We talked about the transmission fluid, if it leaked that much on the way to the barn, and not on the way back, it's empty. Justin's thinking was a gasket. Today I decided to drive to the shop with whatever fluid is in the transmission. It was the same distance to  his shop as to town where I could buy some fluid. Walking to the car, I was questioning the expensive chance I was taking, driving eight miles with dry transmission. Turned the key, the battery was too weak to turn the engine over. Right away I felt the car itself was telling me not to do it. It wasn't like an omen warning me. It was the car, itself, refusing to go. I would pay attention if I were to take it for an omen, but this was the car shutting itself down. If I were to use jumper cables with somebody else's battery and override the car's direct communication, pleading with me like James Brown, baby please don't go, I would go against knowing the transmission would not make it. When it's obvious, right in front of my face, there it is.   



Back to the house, called mechanic to tell him about the car not starting. I said I believe I can have some fluid and battery charged by tomorrow afternoon. Called next door neighbor, Gary, asked if he'd be going to town today or tomorrow. Today. I asked him to stop at a parts store and buy me three quarts of automatic transmission fluid. He was going to the parts store anyway. I thought I'd get him to jump my car into motion after putting in the fluid. He had a battery charger. I had a fifty foot electrical cord. I'm not sure how long I could let the engine run to recharge the battery with a seriously leaking transmission. Better to use the charger and run through the fluid on the way to the repair shop than sitting still charging the battery. I don't know what else to do. I've had to borrow a charger enough times that it is time now to buy one to keep in the car. I've found the plastic funnel to assist pouring the fluid down a narrow pipe. Ready to problem solve. I like knowing a good mechanic, who does reliable, trustworthy work, listens to WPAQ AM out of Mt Airy online. Has a laptop with speakers that give good sound. Chuck and I connect with our appreciation of the Stanley Brothers and hillbilly music. I hear excellent old-time fiddling in there and banjo plucking, hillbilly gospel singing that makes the tears flow. It's ok to shed tears in front of Chuck over a good gospel song. He feels it too. He plays rhythm guitar in a local gospel group, Covered By The Blood. He's Crystal's daddy and Vada's grandpa. He has kept my 93 Buick Century, the Catfish, in motion. 



Gary is back from town with three quarts of fluid. We checked the charger and the battery was fully charged. I coiled up the cord and put it in the five gallon bucket I keep it in. I put the charger on the back seat in case I need it tomorrow. We're set. An appointment for tomorrow same time as today. I'll fill the transmission just before leaving. Don't want it to drain out overnight. This is a frightful experience that in the past would have flustered me into a spin. It didn't take hold of me this time. I took care of it, step by step. The part that made it work so smoothly was my confidence things would fall into place. The car refusing to start told me something I'd been suspecting about this car, it is conscious. First time I blew a hole in a brake line was less than two miles from Chuck's shop. Second time I blew a brake line, I pushed the brake pedal in front of his garage door. It stopped, but pedal went to the floor. Every time something goes wrong anymore, the place it happens is the best place for whatever it is to happen. Today it spoke to me the only way a car has to speak, like a donkey would speak to me, like a dream would speak. I've been gentle with the car, kept it in good running condition. When something breaks down, I get it fixed right away. Today the car convinced me it is aware. I've suspected consciousness in motor vehicles for some time, though had not had any direct communication with one. It brought donkeys to mind and dogs that have been my friends. I learn to communicate with my pets. I'm one who believes "dominion over" means responsibility to take care of and nurture. The last time it had a flat tire, I found it in Farmer's Hardware parking lot. No easier place to change a wheel. It seems like the car and I have found a flow between us.
       
photos by tj worthington


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