June 2, 2015
Have you ever been gloomy on a perfectly lovely day? Maybe better to ask, have any of us not? Today began that way, sharply beautiful—a kind of begging to just be outside kind of morning, followed by a mildly warm bursting with life afternoon.
Still, I was gloomy.
My body said go outside, but my heart said no, let’s be gloomy.
My muse said, get up and write, but my mind said no, let’s be gloomy.
If it weren’t for my dogs, I might have pulled the covers over my head. But dogs need walking, so I forced my gloomy heart and mind to come along, promising myself I could crawl back in bed when we got back.
Out walking, we changed course a few times to avoid wildly happy unleashed dogs (Who knows why there were so many loose canines out on this particular day? I pictured them all prying the screens off their open windows with various size paws after their humans left for work, and then jumping out pell-mell to run and roll in the grass. The day was that pretty).
I always change course when I see a loose dog ahead, or one running toward us, not so much because I am afraid of them, but because I fear they may be baited into a fight by my feisty Schnauzer.
Anyway, we found a quiet lane eventually. Diesel and Atticus were taking things slowly, sampling the fresh long grass, sniffing and marking, sniffing and marking. Pandora was playing in my pocket: Coleman Hawkins, “Under a Blanket of Blue.” Lovely.
And then I noticed.
I wasn’t really all that gloomy anymore.
I was thinking about the writing I would accomplish today. My important novel writing. Wrestling with my protagonist’s problems. Conjuring up a crucial scene to push the plot forward.
We were almost back home when Barry and Laura, two of my neighbors, waved. “Want to go kayaking with us?” they asked.
An invitation, it turned out, that I could not turn down.
I love being in the water, on the water, with the water. I love the quiet splash. The green banks sliding by. The exercise and the rest.
And this would be my first time out this season.
On a day such as this, these are the moments are sometimes given. Learning to spot them and savor them is the trick.
An hour later we were on the river paddling with just the right amount of effort to know our arms were probably morphing into something sleekly beautiful, something very un-middle-aged-women-and-man-arm-like. There we were, three people, a man and two women, just for a little while living in the moment, alive and in nature.
“The goose family is just ahead,” Laura said. “We’ve been watching them grow.”
We came around a bend and came upon two complete families. Two mothers and two fathers standing tall watching us. Two groups of chicks. One group, still downy fluff, but up and about, and maybe a third as tall as their parents. The other group was younger, but there were a lot of them—they were huddled in a perfect circle around the base of a tall shrub, looking like a living Christmas tree skirt.
There wasn’t a house or a boat or even a power line in sight. Just us and the geese.
“I didn’t know separate families lived so near each other,” Barry said. “And I hear they mate for life.”
They mate for life.
Also, and this is maybe the best part, Barry searched through all the downed branches near the river’s edge for trash. He didn’t find much, but what he found, he took with him. Took it home to recycle.
Laura smiled at me. “Barry cleans the river,” she said.