Losing Daylight

It warmed a little today, after a half-week of rain flirting with sleet. Even now, approaching midnight, the air is mild.

Into the quiet, a cricket drops its late autumn chirps, one-by-one, measuring the night at the meditative pace of breath.  Like a melancholy memory of summer, gone.

I spent the day planning daffodils.  Not my favorite flower, but one the deer won’t eat, and I want some color in my semi-forested, unrelievedly green back yard come spring.  The rain had softened the earth and it was a good time to get the bulbs into the soil.  It still felt like a season of production, rather than decline.

I cleaned out the garage and stored the deck and porch furniture, vacuumed out the car and installed the rubber floor mats for the coming mud and snow. I’ll wait a bit before putting the little red shovel in the trunk.

Tomorrow, (today, now, as I am editing this post) we set the clocks back. Somehow this day, more than the September Equinox, is the true divider between summer and winter. Throughout the fall we can ignore thinking too much of the cold and dark to come.  The light is still with is in the early evening and the color, rioting overhead and beneath our feet is a joyous distraction. It is a cozening time; a short season of artful deception. Even the musk of spent vegetation can seem more spice than rot – or so we can fool ourselves into thinking, for a while.

The weather app on my phone predicts the freezing point later in the week, but today will still be a mild one, with rain.  As I write, some cotton-softened thunder is laying down a low bass ground to the insistent chirp of my cricket’s song, its steady metronome, slowly marking time as the sky lightens into day. 

Looking ahead, here’s a poem I wrote some years ago.

Saving Daylight

Willows open veins in dead arms;
fountain down their beaded
necklaces of jade.

Red buds rouge the silver maple’s
wintered limbs outside the window.

Last year’s reeds, standing bleached
and hollow, bloom
red and raucous birdsong.

Tonight, a lost hour gains the time

for the winking secrets of fireflies
in a perfumed lawn,

for hiding from muffled calls home
in the safe dark of the yard,

for the thrill of batwings skimming
silent below the stars,

for the sueded purple taste of grapes.

© Kathleen Cerveny 2009

 

On Bringing Things Down to Scale

October 28 is International Observe the Moon Day. Yep. Our lovely celestial neighbor gets a special day on the calendar. Or, rather, a special night.  Here in our corner of the globe, the moon will be waxing gibbous; a little more than 50% illuminated.  56% to be more precise. It will wax fuller as we move toward Hallowe’en. On that night the little roving spooks will have 83% of the moon’s potential light to guide their mischievous meanderings through the neighborhood.  Unless it’s cloudy.

I always liked the word ‘gibbous’.  It seemed to suggest something awkward, stumbling, a little bit funny. Almost a kind of ‘baby talk’ nonsense babble, with that double ‘b’.  Research says it comes from the Latin, ‘gibbosus’ which means ‘humpbacked.’  Anyway …

Readers of this blog know I am fascinated with the moon and may remember I took a course, “All Things Moon,” at the Natural History Museum a while ago. So interesting, and fun.  As I’m writing this, I’m looking at the model of the earth/moon relationship each of us in the class built and took home; a simple illustration of the relative size of the moon vs the earth and its distance from us, using everyday objects; a tennis ball and a penny, and string.

If you lay out the model, say, on your dining room floor, the distance representing the 240,000+ miles between earth and the moon measures about 7 feet. Somehow that seems to make the relationship much more intimate and graspable.

Modeling incomprehensible science through human-scale or everyday examples is one way for us to develop some appreciation, if not understanding of impossibly complex or otherwise inscrutable things.

The image of a bowling ball in the middle of a trampoline, for example, as a model for the warping geometry of spacetime and gravity.

Or a frog in a pot on the stove, which doesn’t notice the temperature rising until it is too late, as a metaphor for climate change.

Harder, I think is the effort to find compelling alternate examples or metaphors or analogies to spark understanding of what’s happening to our democracy.  We have to take a hard look at the real thing and recognize the escalating reality of tyranny for what it really is.

I was recently introduced to an amazing, insightful and quite alarming little book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder, the Levin Professor of History at Yale University.  Barely larger than a pack of cards, within the book’s 120 pages Professor Snyder details 20 historical examples from the very recent past that are clear and precise red flags for the present. Each chapter is titled with one of 20 concise directives to counter the rise of tyranny in a society.  They are both a global societal call to action at the same time they are a personal, individual primer for resistance.  Here they are:

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend institutions.
  3. Beware the one-party state.
  4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  5. Remember professional ethics.
  6. Beware of paramilitaries.
  7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  8. Stand out.
  9. Be kind to our language.
  10. Believe in truth.
  11. Investigate.
  12. Make eye contact with small talk.
  13. Practice corporeal politics.
  14. Establish a private life.
  15. Contribute to good causes.
  16. Learn from peers in other countries.
  17. Listen for dangerous words.
  18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  19. Be a patriot.
  20. Be as courageous as you can.

I hope these exhortations make you want to read the book. You can finish it in an hour and you can get it used for less than $5.00 from abebooks.com.  I keep mine on the end table in my living room along with my pocket constitution. 

200 years is a short time in the history of civilization.  Who says our democracy will last forever?  Unless continuously defended and enlivened, it certainly will not.

We cannot stop our moon from moving imperceptibly away from us – as it is doing at the rate of 1.4 inches a year – generating the shifts in tides and rotation and axis the earth will experience millennia from now. That scale of time and gravitational force cannot be reckoned with.  But the current threats to our enlightened democracy are at a scale and within a timeframe that can. We will all need to ‘be as courageous as we can,’ however, as the ‘unthinkable’ moves toward arrival.

Something to think about while observing our lovely, essential but “inconstant moon.”

Here’s an image with a poem I wrote as part of “Moving Minds” – a public art project putting poetry inside city buses. Here’s the poem.

Night Song

The moon, sudden as a door slam,
rang the night awake.

The Aztecs saw a rabbit there.
For me, a singer croons;

a lunar anthem sounding
from the cloud-less mouth

of Mare Nubium; its tone
the perfect ‘A’ of Mozart’s clarinet.

© 2007: Kathleen Cerveny

 

 

 

 

Aiming for No Regrets: Looking ‘Upstream’

When I was a little girl, my father and I used to sketch together.  He never declared himself as an artist, but he was. In later life he would carve animals from wood or soapstone, and I have several of these among my most prized possessions.  He was color-blind, so pen and ink or pencil were his mediums of choice. So they were mine, too.  My favorite things to sketch were landscape scenes – in particular, meandering, tree-lined streams, imitations, I’m sure, of the creek running through the Metroparks at the bottom of my street where I played as a child.

It is surprising to me now, how important that creek was to my sense of self.  I considered it my duty to manage it; keeping the tiny waterfalls free of sticks and leaves, moving branches that had fallen in so the polywogs and salamanders could move about more freely.  Although I was probably robbing them of hiding and nesting places in so doing.

I never wandered too far upstream, needing always to be close enough to get home for supper or lunch, but I always wondered where the stream came from.

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I had a conversation yesterday with a friend who, like myself, had spent her working life in service to others.  It happens we both worked in the nonprofit arts realm and are both now some years retired, but as busy – or busier than when we worked full time.  The difference now is that most of our busy-work is delivered still in service to others – but for free, as volunteers for nonprofit groups we care about.

We also talked about how frustrated we are that, while our volunteer efforts are rewarding to some extent, there is little time for doing the things we thought we would be doing in retirement; things that would fulfill the unmet needs, the creative growth and satisfaction of our personal, rather than our professional selves.

What is it about people who have spent their working lives in the nonprofit or service sectors – women in particular, I’d venture – that makes us feel we need to keep giving once we stop being paid for that service? Well, there’s the old ‘women’s’ thing of seeking or needing validation through selfless and usually thankless service, I suppose.  But my friend and I are women who have attained a high level of professional accomplishment and recognition in our respective fields of endeavor. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Yet we, or speaking just speak for myself now, I seem to believe I still owe it to the universe to keep on giving.

My friend remarked on the message being delivered everywhere now to Boomers, about volunteerism.  About ‘staying happy in retirement’ by using your life’s experience to serve others; all these urgings to volunteer. Even my former employer has a program for retirees, matching them up with needy nonprofits for volunteer service.

Fewer are the messages celebrating the virtue of personal, creative growth. Fewer are the messages that retirement may signal an appropriate shift in the life cycle toward higher individual human development.

Although I can’t believe I am using this as an example – look at former President George Bush.  Once the leader of the free world, he now spends his time painting – investing in his personal development as an artist.  I wonder, having spent eight years nurturing his creative sensibilities and sensitivities, if this investment was not a factor in the brilliant, nuanced and positively eloquent speech he gave recently about the diminishing civility of human society.  I was deeply impressed and moved. Even if someone wrote the speech for him, his impulse to make this statement and his clear passionate delivery of it had to have come from a place of deep reflection and compassionate, measured thought.  It’s not a place you can get to easily without the time and space unencumbered by the demands of others’ needs.

I have been reading (native Ohio) poet Mary Oliver’s essay collection Upstream.  One essay, entitled “Of Power and Time” captures some of what I have been thinking about – and what my friend and I spent our lunchtime yesterday discussing.  Here’s the final  sentence of that essay.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

There’s a terrific reflection on the essay from the blog BrainPickings, here.

I was curious about the title of the book, Upstream, at first, since it is a collection  published late in her life and career, and the essay that struck  me as meaningful seems to be speaking to me, now, downstream  in my life as the creative call has become restive in me.  But the essays reveal the incredible debt she owes to the source material of both her childhood and her connection to nature.  Who she is and what she accomplished comes from who she was and what the early inspirations were for her.

So I am called to look back – upstream, past the rocks and tumbling cataracts of a busy, complex life of service to others,  to where I began.  To reflect on that stream I so carefully tended as a child. To follow the impulse to seek out the source no matter how far I have to wander from home.

Ghost Knowledge: Leaf Tea and Astral Jell-o

Some delights of autumn leaves: the stained-glass cathedral light they filter through the trees, the shusss-and crackle of a walk through those already fallen, their earthy perfume rising from the ground after a rain.

Another delight is the ghost images left behind; shadowy impressions of their former selves imprinted for a time on wet sidewalks.  The alchemy of rain, infusing, distilling and releasing the tannin held in the leaves, makes a kind of leaf tea which stains the walkways with these brown and gray shadows.  It’s as if the leaves are so reluctant to, well, leave, that they impress upon the autumn walks a kind of photo-memory, a soft, diffuse shade of their former existence. They are gone, but still here. Ghost leaves.

Something else gone but still here –

A couple of days after my birthday this past August, the ripples from the collision of two neutron stars somewhere in the cosmos reached our tiny corner of the universe.  The actual collision happened 100 million years ago. But it wasn’t until August that we felt the tremor and, 11 hours later saw the result – the first time observers on earth actually got to see the collision of neutron stars. I won’t begin to try to explain it all, so there’s a fuller explanation and some very cool videos here.  By the way, EarthSkyNews is a great daily dose of fun and understandable science in your inbox.  You should subscribe.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have some excited and conflicted feelings about this.

On the one hand, I am pleased that yet again the late great A. E’s theories are proven right; that the gravitational waves from a collision of two huge, super-dense astral bodies could shake the universe like a bowl of gelatin. He actually never thought this theory could be proven because the tremor would be so small, we could never build a machine sensitive enough to detect the waves. Maybe this is one of the very few times he was ever wrong about anything. See my post about the first time this theory was proven – just two years ago.

And I am impressed and proud that humans are actually discovering more and more about how we all came to be and how our universe works.

On the other hand, the thought of the universe, with me in it, shaking like a bowl of jell-o is a bit unsettling: on a par with the fact that our moon is moving away from us at the rate of 1.6 inches each year.  As a result, the earth’s rotation is slowly slowing down. Worrisome, no?

We’ve got a few million (or was it billion?) years before we have to worry about that, though.

These incomprehensible space science things really fascinate me — and blow my mind.  I don’t know how scientists wrap their minds around black holes, dark matter, the space-time continuum, quarks, leptons, infinity … Sort of like the White Queen believing “six impossible things before breakfast.”

An eminent local scientist once explained dark matter to me (and a group of others), and I actually thought I understood it — for about 45 seconds — but couldn’t sustain the knowledge.

Still, the memory of once (maybe) understanding such a complex and ephemeral concept persists. Ghost knowledge.

Ghost leaves I can understand.  The universe – not so much. But I’m glad someone’s working on it and I’m content to be amazed.

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Despite the picture, this post isn’t about bees.  Although their demise is probably yet another sign of the apocalypse.

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It rained all last night; a welcome drenching since it has been so very dry this autumn. The sky was still dripping  early this morning, but tapering off as I shuffled to the kitchen to feed the cat and make coffee.

I wake early – when it’s still very dark – and enjoy sitting with my coffee and the Times Crossword, watching the dawn sift its way into daylight through my front windows.  It’s always a surprise, no matter how many days or how predictably it happens, that for long moments it is dark and still dark and dark some more – then I look up and it’s light enough to see the houses across the street.

This morning I saw something else. There was a small white package on the stone stairs leading to my porch. I could see the Amazon ‘smirk’ but knew I had not ordered anything from Amazon. Maybe a neighbor left something and used an old Amazon box?  Whatever it was, it was all wet.

Still in my jammies, I went out to retrieve it. To my surprise, it was a real delivery from Amazon, with my address, but someone else’s name. It must have come by drone, as a ground delivery would have put it on the porch, under shelter.

I put out a notice on NEXTDOOR, a neighborhood social media platform.  One neighbor replied immediately, with a comment that Amazon would not deliver by drone this early, and warning that I should call the police to come for it.

I was already irritated that a drone might have invaded my property; last year someone’s toy drone followed me while I was out walking. The insect-like buzz was not only irritating and disturbing to a peaceful walk, but the idea that I was being followed and watched was scary as well. Now, a more insidious suggestion had been made.

I decided not to be alarmed and wait to see if the person whose name was on the package would contact me.

The word ‘drone’ seems sinister in and of itself. It’s almost onomatopoetic; drrroooooonne. (Think of the wheezing drone of a bagpipe.) By traditional definition, and as a noun or a verb, it means a continuous, low humming or buzzing noise – or to make such a sound.   It also is what we call sting-less male bees that do no work for the hive but serve as mating slaves to the queen.  The Urban Dictionary has this definition: “Someone who follows an ideology or some other form of idealization blindlessly and uncritically.”

So, a mindless, irritatingly buzzing slave to the wishes and desires of another.  And therefore, outside the realm of reason or influence. Wave the gnat away and it just comes back, again and again. Try to reason with an ideologue and you get nowhere.  Like trying to reason with or alter the function of a machine.  It makes you powerless in the face of blind purpose or mindless assault.  I cut my cable for this, among other, reasons.  No more endless, mindless ads for something I don’t want.

On the one hand, I can marvel at the technology and even delight a bit in it when, In The Hunger Games, tiny drones deliver help to Katniss in her hour of need. But the thought of a drone setting down on my lawn in the middle of the night – not so much.  I guess it’s this kind of mechanized, resistance-proof invasion of privacy that I most resent and, to be honest, fear a little bit. A person comes to the door and you can tell them to go away – close the door in their face.  But GoogleMaps puts your house out there for the world to see whether you like it or not, and drones drop unwanted merchandise (or worse) on your front steps from out of the sky.

Burning Obligations

It has been a hot and dry early autumn.  Too many of the trees have gone right from green to brown, putting expectations of a brilliant fall in wait-and-see mode. Lawns and sidewalks are littered in a shifting sheet of papery detritus. A shuffled crunching accompanies each step of my evening walk through the neighborhood.  Here and there, though, there is fire peeking through the scuffle of dead leaves, and some of the trees seem to be fighting to achieve glory.

Fire in my fingers!

Last night was one of those that signal the shift in the year; unseasonably hot for October, but with a grace of wind that propelled the day into a cloud-less evening. As night fell and the daytime clamor of the neighborhood dropped away, the wind in the trees became the dominant sound-scape, even drowning out cricket-song.

It was a perfect night to sleep with the windows open – or so I thought. The wind picked up after dark and the sky-scraping sway of the trees filled the night.  At first it sounded like the crash of the sea against a pebbled shore.  But rather than soothing, the waves of sound just agitated the night – more like the rasping schuss of a stiff broom on a stone walk, or the scraping of a crust of ice off a windshield. The volume just intensified as the night wore on – or maybe my sleeplessness just made it seem so.

I’m writing this at 2:30 am, unable to sleep with the noise of the wind in the trees and the dry leaves clawing at the screens to get in, but reluctant to close up the house against the sound.

————————————

In February last year, I wrote another post about wind. http://kathleencerveny.com/unseen-forces/ That post talked about the force of change in my life soon after retirement.  Now, two years later, I am again facing the need to make change.

Two years ago, in a somewhat desperate effort to fill the supposed empty time ahead, to feel useful and engaged with something meaningful, and – truth be told – to avoid facing the discipline it would take to become a serious writer, I said ‘yes’ to too many things.  I am now busier than I was when working full time. It’s not that I have too much to do. I will always choose to be busy.  It’s that I have too many different things to do. It’s like having five jobs.  No, it IS having five jobs, four of which are purely volunteer. 

So, what to do?  My separate obligations are like the recent spate of hurricanes – individual tempests, blowing me left and right, creating a storm of sleeplessness and worry that I will drop the ball somewhere. The details and tasks are piling up like the growing blanket of leaves on my lawn.

 

Well, it is the turn of the season – always a chance to make change. Somewhere I have to find a leaf rake – and a match.

This Long, Dark Morning

This morning has come painfully slow.  It’s the first rainy day in many weeks and the dawning sun cannot yet brighten the sky enough to reveal the difference in tone between the shadowed black of the trees and the lowering gray of the clouds.

I’ve been up since 4 am: a fitful night of half-sleep, wondering and worrying how I am going to get my sweet, feral cat Cosette to the vet.  Two days ago she began to limp and hold her left front paw up and out in a gesture of waif-like supplication. It broke my heart instantly – not just because I knew she was in pain, but because I knew what I would have to do to help her.

Cosette has been with me for 12 years; captured wild, pregnant, and barely a year old, one terrible winter. In all the time since, she would not be tamed. In all this time, I have not ever held her, never had her sit on my lap or even beside me on the couch.

She has come to allow me to scratch her head – but only at my full arm’s length, and while I’m sitting down.  She’s always watching my feet. If they point in her direction and start to move, even from across a room, she slithers to ‘safety’ slinking swift and low, like a stream of mercury, away from where I’m headed. Not one of my house guests has ever seen her. A knock on the door or even a strange voice through the front door screen generates a prodigious salmon-leap up the stairs and a flattened scoot under the bed.

On three occasions in our lives together I have had to capture her.  First, when she was caught – skinny and bedraggled, and taken to the vet to be checked out. Next, when I moved into a small apartment after selling my big house.  Then four years ago when I moved into the cozy cottage in Cleveland Heights where we live now.  Each capture was terrible in fear and trauma for her and rather bloody for me.

The house has suited Cosette.  Plenty of windows and a yard full of wildlife to watch from indoors. Some stairs to run and play on – and she does play.  I don’t want to give the impression that, despite her name, she is a poor, unhappy thing. She talks to me and races around the house like any cat. And her particular game is to drop her tiny nerf ball down the stairs, watch it bounce and tumble, then race to catch it and start the game again, yelling at the top of her lungs the whole while. She even has developed a habit of bringing one of her toy mice upstairs and leaving it by the bed as soon as I settle down for the night. Then she brings it back down in the morning, dropping it by my chair as I have my first cup of coffee.

Her coat is the softest pewter gray.  When she lies in the sun she gleams like old silver. She meows softly to wake me in the morning, a little louder when it’s snack time and ‘suppertime’ – a word she knows well.  And if I stay up past what she considers bed time, I hear about that, too.  She sits in the front window when I leave the house and is waiting at the back door when I come home.

But, still, she will not be caught and held.

I had this fantasy that Cosette would live out her life happily with, if distant from me, and one day I’d come home to find she’d passed quietly away.  That’s probably not the most likely scenario, though, and I don’t know what I’d do if she really got sick.  It’s so hard when you can’t make them understand you are trying to help.

So it’s been a long night and a dark morning of planning the campaign. I’s 7:30 now and my neighbor will come to help in an hour. I’ve got what I hope is a good plan of battle: closed-off rooms, a blanket, a broom. Gloves. But it will be terrifying for her.  

Off With Their Heads! Deadheading: a Generative Life Lesson

My good friend MB moved to another state a few years ago, leaving behind a rich but recently less-than-fulfilling life built here in Cleveland over several decades. She has found new opportunities elsewhere – though not without challenges – and is blossoming professionally in ways that she could not do while here. Always an apartment dweller, M had never before had the chance, or the inclination, to have a garden.  She still lives in an apartment, but it has a small balcony, and she’s taken up gardening in pots – mostly flowers.  Every time she emails me an update on her life, it always includes photos of how her flowers are doing and some tidbits about the joy this small pleasure brings her.

I have a hanging basket of royal purple Petunias on my front porch.  The way the molecules on their velvet petals catch the morning sun and sparkle with miniscule ruby and gold highlights, delights me. The petunias have been growing and glowing for weeks and weeks now, because I have been diligent in deadheading the spent blooms.

Two days after I bought the overflowing basket on sale at Home Depot and hung it on its hook, there was a storm during the night.  The next morning, not a single bloom was left. I was devastated.  Then I remembered how my Grandmother, who lived with us my whole life and who loved petunias, was forever going out to pick or cut off the dead blooms from all the flowers in our yard. This was a morning or evening ritual for her and she carried a pair of scissors and little pail to collect the deceased. My friend M, too, talks about how she deadheads her balcony garden and how she is rewarded with continuing bloom. So I did the same with my basket.

I was surprised how easily the withered flowers came away – not a single complaint or bit of resistance; though the recently withered were a bit slimy from the rain.

Within a few days I had a glorious crop of new petunias. I don’t know where they came from, because I saw no evidence of new growth when I plucked the old ones, but maybe I did not know what to look for.  Anyway, I have been plucking with abandon and the petunias have rewarded me with continuous bloom ever since.  Have you noticed how sweet they smell, especially early in the morning, with the evaporating dew carrying their scent up and through the air?

Interestingly, petunias got their name from the aboriginal ‘petun’ which means “a tobacco that does not make a good smoke”- although they are not a form of tobacco.  They belong to the nightshade family.  This might explain one of the flower’s symbolic meanings: anger and resentment. It is suggested you present petunias to someone with whom you have had a heated argument.  Which in a strange way might suggest the other, quite opposite symbolic reference to petunias, as representing a desire to spend time with someone because you find their company peaceful and soothing.  So – maybe a ‘make-up’ flower?

All this reflection on the continuous proliferation of my little pot of petunias leads me to note how much ‘deadheading’ I’ve done in the garden of my life in recent years. I’ve let go, even aggressively put aside or thrown away, so much. And so much has bloomed anew for me.

After more than 50 years as an activist, working publicly in the arts, I’ve let go of it all. This opened space for new work on more private projects, and made room for dramatic shifts in the direction of my interests.  I am gratefully reaping the bounty of a continuously blooming series of new and different ways to learn and places to grow.

So, a life lesson from M, my Grandmother, and me: deadhead the spent flowers of desires that have passed their prime. Wake up to the surprise of new passions that have blossomed in their place.

In the Pool

Image result for water images freeHere I am. Impossibly early in the morning and already a few of the regulars are treading the warm blue of the pool. Milly, our social director introduces everyone to everyone else – just in case names have been forgotten since yesterday or last week. Ted presses his bulk forward in the chest-high water, strides timed to the rhythm of his conversation with another man of equal volume. Georgia is doing her squats in the shallow water on the steps at the far end of the pool, her ears plugged with waterproof music. She sings quietly to herself as she bends and rises again and again, creating small tsunamis that break across the floating lane barrier dividing the deep side from the shallow.

This early, music of the USO era croons seductively below the constant buzz of social conversation floating across the water. A few folks sing along with Begin the Beguine and The Man I Love. Later, when the water aerobics class begins, the music will shift to Michael Jackson and Journey, energizing the ladies pumping Styrofoam iron with their waggling arms.  The water-weightless bobbing of their jumping jacks will animate the pool to frenzy.

But now, in the relative quiet of the early morning here at the aquatic therapy center, I sit astride a buoyant, yellow noodle on the deep side and pedal furiously up and down the length of the pool; five lengths, six lengths, more, until I’m breathless. I switch to an upright backstroke and breaststroke to work my arms until they feel like cooked spaghetti. Then it’s off the noodle and on to the kickboard to work the abs and glutes and quadriceps.

I’m pretty much alone on the deep side, this early in the day.  I like it that way.  That way I can pretend I’m different from the large, crooked, halting ones – the ‘older’ ones on the other side, gossiping their way to prolonged mobility. I’m still vigorous and strong, and much too busy to socialize.

Truth is, I am just as old. And the decades have worn on me in ways I cannot deny. I may be a little luckier, right now, than some who come here, but as I shower and get dressed, and feel the pull in my back as I bend to tie my shoes, I have to admit – I’m in the same pool.

Image result for water images free

Already

5:00 AM, the last day of August. Already there have been nights too cool to leave the windows open, mornings where sweaters are needed. The post-eclipse sun remains hot, midday, but the trees look tired of it all. The bright green of June and July is dulled with a film of ennui and already, red and orange Pollock the sidewalks of the neighborhood.

Already the crickets have slowed the urgency of their tempo.

So, too, my urgency of care for the garden.  Already the weeds have taken advantage of this final chance to dominate.

Already there have been hints at November skies – lead-purple clouds. Winter-weight clouds. These have passed and the buoyant cumulus and high cirrus have returned, but their rocky heaviness still presses on the heart of summer.

It’s 6 AM now. Between the measured beat of crickets and the relentless tocks of the Seth Thomas, already the night has pulled itself away from yesterday; stepped across the threshold into this last day of summer.  

And just now – a ‘V’ of geese trumpeting south.

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