October 30:  Yukon Cornelius watches Bumble paint a Mural

Bumble does not live in my time zone even when he is in bed with me. This makes setting times very difficult in our home. Not only can he be as much as three hours different than I am, but he might be exactly in synch with me and I wouldn’t know. His times are fluid, moving with the patterns of sunlight and darkness. I tried to teach him about time zones using a globe pointing out the clever 24 time zones that used longitude to separate them equally. He got that, <very clever,> but he pointed to the North and South ends of the globe and shook his head. He asked, <Why aren’t there latitudinal time zones as well?  Far north sunlight doesn’t follow the silly time zones “human society” created.  More sun in the north in summer; much less sun in winter—sometimes no sun in the winter.> He tells me I should know that. I grew up there. I say that I am matching the rhythm of the people around me—that’s what time zones are for—to help us stay together. He shakes his head. He believes time zones were created to accommodate people living in temperate zones within one thin band around the world, not even those on either side of those zones. Why should he change his whole life and rhythm to merge in with something humans created—and created badly?  It only meets the needs of only a small portion of the humans on the earth. So I keep track of his patterns in a notebook called Bumble Time, like one would watch the weather, noting times and changes, patterns that alter—trying to keep us at least partially in rhythm together. I tell him, “So the days won’t get away from us.” Daylight Savings always throws us out of whack. He signs to me, <You cannot use the daylight you are saving.> He smiles, picks up a cupcake, eats it. <You are saving the wrong things>

At his current work site across the state, he paints a mural in the heart of the older part of a downtown now mostly abandoned during the last big economic slump, they told him. The shops were all boarded up, except for Payday Lending places, phone outlets, and the occasional fast food restaurant. But people were still here. They lived and grew up here. Their homes were in this neighborhood. They no longer had a grocery close by, but they had a lot of old buildings just sitting around unused. The neighborhood hired him, contacting him through his website. Anyone can contact him and propose a place to put a mural—but he doesn’t have to take the work.  He can choose. Bumble likes to take places, like this one, that need some bright color, where he can make people happy. His price is always on a sliding scale. This one will not bring in much money. <But the next one will,> he tells me. <It all works out.> It’s true. Some of his murals are inside big office buildings, restaurants, art museums, private homes. He has collectors. He brings in some very big money, most of which he gives away to environmental causes. He takes jobs where he can be himself, and which are safe for him, and where he can stand comfortably. He is close to 10 feet tall now—that limits some indoor spaces. He researches the site, makes sure they are ‘monster-friendly’ and that he can work in peace, and that they have a sign language interpreter on call. When he first started doing them, he drew crowds. “Well,” I told him, “you are–.” He finished, <Different.> “New,” I said. I thought it couldn’t hurt his marketing for people to post pictures of him working or take selfies. <It is difficult to think. I distract them from the Art I’m trying to make.>  He didn’t mind drawing crowds in neighborhoods, but he didn’t like being gawked at in offices. <I feel too big—in the way of myself.>

He lets me watch today, as he is finishing up this one. He calls it, “Dreaming of Escape.” Many of his murals have Hiddens in them. <It helps Hiddens if they have good art about them in public spaces.> He said it got people used to them and helped put them in context. In Trenton there is a mural over three stories tall of dancing Jersey Devils and it is warm and inviting and make people smile. He was invited to the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant WV to create a permanent mural. It was controversial at first. It depicted several Moth Men interacting with townspeople in the downtown area, drinking coffee, walking down the street, real hometown kind of Norman Rockwell stuff, done in a hybrid Rockwell/ Bumble’s ‘Northern style’. It wasn’t the scary Moth Man they wanted. It was friendly. It didn’t match any of their marketing. He told them, <If you want a Moth Man to come live here you need to show him he will be accepted and welcome.> They didn’t know they had that option—to get their own Moth Man again! So they changed every bit of marketing to follow Bumble’s lead. They now have a very active and inquisitive Moth Family living near them.

I see the hot orange sky, the ice breaking up, the black continent Earth from the Northern perspective. <People aren’t watching this clock very well,> he tells me. <The land is telling them that time is running out to change bad habits, but they won’t see the clock.> He shakes his head. <Out of time.>  He points to different places of his mural, and tells me about it. <They are escaping the hot land. The Tern drops its eggs when it has to leave. The fox jumps into the water. The Bumble tries to balance on ice flows.>  “And these stars that are falling?” I ask. He smiles. <Those are people. They opened a box here. And now they are all falling into the box here.>  When I ask him what the box was, he says, <Everything they wanted.> Now the box just collected their bodies, I guessed. <People need a new Climate Time Zone national campaign that has a day that gets smaller every year. Less time to work. Less time to play. Less time to change. No 24 hour day but a 12 hour day, maybe. Short time. Shorter time. Shortest time. Then no time.>

I look around me at the people who are watching. He signs to me, <They get it from the pictures. They know. They have been in Climate Time Zone for awhile. They are part of the clock now. Others with money and power—they don’t know they’ve been in the Climate Time Zone too. The effects don’t reach them for awhile.> He looks at the people, and the neighborhood. <The clock is all around us. The trees are the clock. The ice is the clock. These people are the clock to watch too. No one is watching the clock. This is the time to be saved.> He looked again at the people. <No one is saving this Time.>

Later, as sunset comes, the crowd brings several long tables and chairs and covers the tables in food to share. Everyone sits down together.  They come to Bumble and me. “We want to thank you for making our neighborhood more colorful.” Bumble shows his surprise, and then spots a table full of banana bread. He points at it and roars, laughing. He signs <You know me too well. How can I say no?> I tell them what he’s said. They smile and clap and lay a big blanket over the concrete for him to sit on. He signs to me, <Time to eat and play—> sits down and children come to him bearing plates of food. They lay them down around him, almost interconnecting on the blanket. He thanks them, smiles big and stuffs his face. He turns to me, barbecue sauce on the fur under his nose, takes my hand and pulls me to the blanket to sit beside him, and signs <Eat and play, before the day gets away.>

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