I love WordPress, I really do. But recently I noticed to my amazement that I have 274 people signed up and following Dancing on Frozen Beaver Ponds (note the “sign up” button to your right). If you add up all the people who follow me across social media and maybe throw in a dog or two and the hawk I’m sure followed me in 1980 – well maybe then. For the record, I have 20 (and appreciate every single one of them).
You don’t see a lot of rusty cars around anymore. A young woman with thin hair and big sunglasses flicks a butt out the window of the one beside me at the lights. The boy in the backseat looks me in the eye. Dares me. He says something that makes her laugh. She looks over, smiles and pulls away, loose muffler rattling.
Up ahead, struggling with a shopping cart full of empty bottles in blue bags is a man about my age. I’ve seen him around. Grey beard, dirty red ball cap, stained winter parka on a warm, spring day. Cool sunglasses. The mirror kind. He’s talking earnestly to himself, shaking his head as though in disbelief. I wonder what his story is. A crow with a french fry hops out of the way.
Transition is so easily romanticized. Tough moment leads to rebirth. Lessons learned. A few wise lines and all is well.
I don’t find anything momentary or momentous about transition. Nothing simple, superficial or quick to sum up. I’ve experienced none that did not involve years and the ups and downs of suffering.
Calamity strikes. We survive and dig ourselves out of the darkness. See daylight. Feel relief, maybe some ecstasy and then set out to find home again. The one we were born into. We felt the blow but never really see when the bruise disappears. We’re closer though, smarter and appreciate everything a little more. We have transitioned. Until the next time.
A glorious morning!
Getting out of the car, a low flying crow drifts through bright blue sky. My heart opens wide. My eyes. My ears. Everything is fresh as spring completes its nesting, mating, greening movement toward summer. On the path, one hand raised with the phone-that-does-everything I record birdsong. Approaching the fishway it stinks of fish, there are so many gathered, packed, pushing and streaming toward some inner calling. A dozen blue heron lift off. A marmot bolts across the path.
I get up off my knees where my face has been pressed to a steel grate, awed by the determined struggle of salmon pushing up the ladder. An eagle watching. Cormorants too.
And then I see our poison.
This thing we let happen. Hatch and allow for any human excuse that will make it okay. The wind, coming from the north today is bringing it across the water. Over the dam. It descends and all but blocks out Green Hill. Last week I saw it do the same to Pictou. I am frozen, as one with the knowledge of death. We are killing ourselves.
An hour later I taste it still.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, bare feet on hardwood. Sunlight on the dresser. As I get older my dreams are closer to the surface. Borders ill defined. Someone is still talking to me. Sort of.
I touch a finger to the pond surface and an amphibian suspended between sunlight and shadow swims toward it. A wonder I will take for granted and forget. Like other things that happen. The bullfrog watches, poised between lily and lotus leaves. Blank or all-knowing? Remembering perhaps. Germany 1982, my first backyard pond. We moved and I dug another. And another. Fed flies to the leopard frogs and they came to know me.
Keith Jarret showed up this weekend. I can still hear him. Piano music drifting between rooms while I do the dishes. The little sounds he makes while playing. I reach over, bang on the ceiling with a broomstick and an old friend replies.
I walked on the dam this morning with my daughter. Born in Germany, 1982. We talked about ancestors, altered surnames and how spelling wasn’t so important back then. “It’s an interesting conversation” she said. “Last night I dreamed that we were walking through a cemetery. You were pointing out names on headstones.”
We also talked about birdsong, how this place used to be ocean and about the first time she got stung by a bee.
I thought I might find a feather under the tree where the eagles sit
watching me warily, though with growing indifference.
Anticipating the possibility of something grand and showy
the down was at first disappointing.
But then it was so light in my hand, almost air.
A smile spread. My tread was noticeably softer upon leaving.