Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sunday evening rain

It's raining now. Thunderclouds rolled in over Fort Knox quickly, and you can hear them rumbling as the lightning gets closer.

Just over an hour ago it was sunny and clear, and I was out for an afternoon run. I've decided to buckle down heavily on running, since there are no other soldiers in my section anymore. Not a single other person wears a uniform to work, which in my mind sort of defeats the purpose. I've never been crazy about running even on good days, and without additional motivation, I tend to avoid it. But I can't let that happen, so I adopted my own additional running PT regime.

This afternoon I ran up past the elementary school, past Fifth and Fourth Avenues where all the colonels and their families live, and around Brooks Field, the central parade grounds for the post. It was hot, and sweat started rolling down my face almost immediately.

As I got to the far corner of the field, running alongside the Garrison Headquarters building, the bugle sounded -- fifteen minutes till Retreat. Two MPs pulled up across the flagpole as I headed back along the south side of the field, and one hopped out with the blank artillery round they were to fire off from the antique tank near the pole. I stopped and watched for a few minutes while one of them clambered up the side of the brown tank, popped open the gunner's hatch, and slid inside. The five-minute warning sounded, and I turned back toward home and began running again.

A group of soldiers were playing frisbee in the field in front of Recruiting Command, and as I reached the road that leads back to the barracks, I noticed that they'd all come to attention, facing back toward the flagpole. There it was, retreat. I spun on a heel and stood at attention. I couldn't hear "Retreat" and "To the Colors" being played, but I knew they were sounding, since the distinctive BOOM of the artillery blank roared over the treetops and roofs.

Now I'm back here, and God is sending his own thunderous booms down on post, along with driving rain. The air has that eerie, electric, yellow quality that happens when everything is ionized by a storm. I've taken a shower and changed, and I'm thinking about what will go on this week. There are sports teams to write previews for, a column to whip up, paper to lay out... bills to pay, a coolant system to flush...

And maybe a set of orders to look at. My orders to Fort Bliss were unceremoniously cancelled about a week ago, and now I have no idea where I'll be heading next -- only that I'll be going somewhere. We'll see what happens.