• Dale Bowman

The rut & Nathaniel Rateliff: Ramble with the Lady

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats came on last night as I swung to take one of my back-way deer routes.

I've had a deer route almost everywhere I've lived. This route cut along a river by some landscaping fields, so the deer have virtually no hunting pressure.

The compulsion of the rut nears, that time of mindless activity by normally reclusive big bucks.

The compulsion of the rut matches the compulsion in Rateliff's song, ``S.O.B.''

I remember a couple weeks ago the first time I heard it on WXRT. When I got home, I had to look it up. The video is every bit as artistic as the song itself.

Last night, as I turned to go down my deer route, ``S.O.B.'' came on the radio. I thought it perfect timing. I turned the radio up and barreled down the side road with the high beams on.

I had to drive into my version of heaven on earth.

Must have scared all the deer into the next county. Didn't see a one.

``I'm going to cover myself with the ashes of you

And nobody's gonna give a damm''

I think the song is more about lost love than addiction, though there's a thin line. (Hello, Chrissie Hynde.)

Hearing ``S.O.B.'' reminded me of the first time I heard John Hiatt's ``Memphis in the Meantime.'' It blew my head open and I knew it was a something special.

Again, compulsion, a song that needed to be written and sang.

``But if I don't get out of here pretty soon

My head's going ot explode''

As Lady, our family's mutt, and I rambled off, morning stars were easily visible, despite the perfectly clear sky of a fall morning. A nearly full moon dropped slowly through the western sky.

Crossing the side rail separating the town from the wildness of the town pond, I heard Canada geese honking off to the west on the nearby lake.

On the southwest corner of the north old clay pit, I counted 13 Canada geese. Another 35 geese swam farther down the south shoreline of the north pit. Another 16 swam on the northwest corner of the south pit.

They swam very quietly. I suspect they have been hunted somewhere in the last week or so. They are wary.

A lone sandpiper called in the near dark on the north shore of the north pit. A great blue heron flapped off from under the bridge over the neckdown between the two pits. It startled us.

Dozens of hedge apples still littered the east of the south pit. I did not bring any back for my wife. I think she has enough. Some compulsions must be curbed.

A small bird I should know chipped high in a tree in the southeast corner of the south pit.

Back on the edge of town, the building fog diffused the yellow of the big light at the grain elevators above the line of waiting rail cars. (Hello, Charles Demuth.) The backdrop of the building dawn in the eastern sky (obviously) was diffused, too.

Downtown, without any reason, a gray squirrel hopped down the alley by the bank.

Why was it there? Making a deposit? Yar. (Sometimes, the ``Yar!''seems apt even without saying, ``Nuts.'')

In the calmness of the building fog the incredibly comforting smell of cooked well-seasoned fillings for tacos and burritos lingered thickly in the air. It smelled so good I wanted to stir the air. The seasoned-meat smells lingered even though the cook/chef, who makes food for the migrant/nursery workers, had already driven his food truck away for the day.

It smelled like a compulsion.

Back home, the light persisted in building through the fog.

It had to.

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