Land of Plenty
Spring. I know because when the roar of the car wash ceases momentarily I can hear the song of peepers in the adjacent woods. I don’t know how those woods have survived this long. Close by is my favorite wine and liquor parlor. Next door to that, a Dunkin’ Donuts popped up in the last week—along with a brand new parking lot, a drive-thru window, and a generous array of eye-catching semaphores, fluttering just now in the breeze. I head into the liquor store.
Jay is behind the counter. He’s as surprised as anybody about the sudden appearance of the Dunkin’ Donuts but happy about it because it promises an uptick in his business. “All those people buying coffee, they’re gonna come in here for their toppers!” He points to the display of whiskey shot bottles next to the lottery tickets. “It’s gonna be great!” I like Jay. I purchase a couple bottles of wine and head out.
Next door I see a long line of cars waiting for the drive-thru window. I can’t remember the last time I had a donut. Driving home, I pass an abandoned gas station, a shuttered car dealership, and a few sadsack store fronts with “For Rent” signs in the windows. What used to be the fairgrounds looks like a bombed out K-Mart parking lot. And just this past week the oldest Catholic Church in the county finally collapsed after a long, de-sanctified desuetude.
The spirit around here seems to be flagging. “At the center of the Greek spirit,” Guy Davenport once observed, “was a meditation on the origin of wheat.” Okay, but what about us? “By analogy,” he continues, “the center of the American spirit should be a temple to petroleum, but we don’t have even that.” Oh well. For the moment, at least, we have the trilling of spring behind the car wash, I have my wine, and for those with the hankering, there are donuts aplenty.