Peter Shelton

Chooglin’ On Down the Road

Posted in Confessions of a Grandpa, Personal History, Watch columns by pshelton on December 30, 2011

Don’t you know it’s gonna be – all right. Shoo-bee-doo-wah. – “Revolution 1” by The Beatles

It’s not always easy these days to believe the John Lennon of 1968. Is it going to be all right? I’m not sure he believed the lyric himself. Despite what the Maharishi was telling him.

But there are days when it seems ineluctably to be true. Like last Thursday at Powderhorn, when I watched a pack of racer kids, like a school of mismatched fish, a mile away from their hand-held devices, popping turns in the powder as if snow were the medium of their birth.

Or when we got a call on Christmas Day from daughter Cloe and her family, visiting in-laws in Maine. Cloe put number-one grandson Alex on the line, and his first words were: “Buppup skiin’?” Only three, and he already knows his grandpa.

It was cold in Maine, 2 degrees on Christmas morning, the first cold temps they’ve had. Adam said the woodstove felt good. Cloe described the sledding on the hill out front as “hazardous to your coccyx” due to piles of frozen horse manure.

Little Lily spoke nonsense into the phone, modulating and enunciating her made-up words with great seriousness, then finishing the sentence with a heart melting, “please.”

Cecily and Mike called from his family place in Alabama. They’d had a grueling travel day on Thursday. De-icing the plane in Grand Junction, then a long delay in Houston, they’d arrived in Huntsville seven hours late. But everybody came to meet them at the airport: a warm Southern welcome from mom, dad, sister, brother, nieces, nephews, cousins.

I didn’t get to talk to Boden on the phone, but I could see in my mind’s eye his four-tooth smile and the irresistible way he todders up to me at the office, stops beside my chair and buries his face in my thigh with his arms straight up in the air like a referee making the touchdown call. He wants to be picked up. Maybe a shoulder ride to go look out the windows. Maybe dance to the radio for a minute or two before Buppup has to get back to work.

Yes, the grandkids are going to be all right.

The kids, too, are doing all right. Beautiful Cloe has a new relief in her voice. Relief because five years of medical school followed by five years of residency followed by this year in Boston on a fellowship are coming, finally, to a resolution. Soon she’ll be working for herself, no longer a student, paying off her loans, making decisions on her own and carving out more time to be with Adam and the kids. She and Adam met on bicycles; now she’ll be able to get back on hers just as Alex is learning to pedal his.

Adam will survive his years as Mr. Mom. It hasn’t been easy. He’s a man’s man who has had to master diaper changes and backhand spoons full of applesauce and oatmeal. He’s the clothes washer, the supper maker, the vacuum cleaner, the catcher in the rye. But soon Alex and Lily will be going to school, and Adam can get back to building things out of wood, and skate skiing and riding his mountain bike like a possessed woodchuck.

Wildland firefighter son-in-law Mike moves a little closer to home each year. First he was stationed in Independence, Calif. Then Las Vegas. Then Dolores. Now there’s a possibility he’ll get work in Durango maybe, or even better, Montrose. It’s good when he’s close to home during fire season, because it makes Cecily smile.

Cecily is going to be all right because, with the power of 30-something youth and her natural grace, she somehow keeps happy juggling three jobs, an ancient dog and an irrepressible toddler – with no daycare to speak of in Ridgway. Come on Mrs. Montessori!

Ellen and I are going to be all right, too. We just keep chooglin’ along, to borrow that made-up word from John Fogerty (eight minutes worth of “chooglin’ on down to New Orleans” on Credence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 offering Bayou Country).

What the heck is chooglin’? One urban dictionary on the web said it’s “a debauched form of white-boy boogie.” I like that.

Another one said “it’s more rhythm than anything else: fluid, organic, undulatory . . . rooted in the blues, but it doesn’t live there.”

We are rooted in OccupyNPRridetheEurozonePrimarycaucusesKimkardashianTokimjongunTomBrady-to-WesWelkerWi-FiCopyPasteDeleteSave(thewhales)Planetarymadness. But we don’t live there.


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