I saw these wood planks there in November, just past the edge of the path, in the leaves. I stopped and puzzled over them. They seemed out of place but purposeful. Real hikers and runners (that’s not me, unfortunately, as I’m more of a slow walker) plan ahead. This muddy spot was far sloppier than you can see from the picture. And I was grateful to whoever took the time to drag those boards into the woods.
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Pin oaks are odd. They keep some leaves til spring. The leaves are ugly, more like tree clutter than adornment. Limp lifeless dull rusty. Nevertheless, on a February day, when the sky’s gray, and everything around you feels dreary and quiet, the wind picks up a bit, and there’s a soft rustle up above. High above.
It’s something like a hiss.
Like frozen crystals brushing by in an icy snow, tick, tick, tick, tick.
Or maybe the scraping a towhee makes when it’s tossing sticks and leaves under brush on a summer’s hunt.
A little softer than the crunch of fancy tissue we bunch around a gift for someone’s birthday.
Yeah, the pin oaks shiver. And then they whisper to the wind.
photograph from january 18, 2020
Could be a song from the 60s.
A wild and chaotic cluster of color,
purples and greens and splashes of yellow.
Someone planted their Christmas tree at the edge of the woods. It stands slanted. And there’s a silvery gleam near the top, maybe a piece of tinsel. The new tree looked a little out of place, in a goofy, sort of wonderful way.
August 25, 2019
I was busy with myself, getting settled. Thinking about this and that. I don’t really like the hand-shaking. Seems unnecessary, but it’s what you do. So I turned to the left. To a young girl, around ten. A tender age. And a face looking up to me with sweetness and a ready smile. Then the mom. Like her daughter, a smile full of joy. A smile that went all the way to her eyes and to the far reaches of her face. Yes, some faces wear a smile end to end, and that was hers. No averted eyes, no reticence. A full smile, eyeball to eyeball. And her face was radiant, beautiful in the most natural way. She wore a black wrap on her head.
I turned back to myself. Who knows what I was thinking.
Time passed and it was time for our row to get up. The father, dark hair, maybe in his 40s. The girl. And then the mother, using a cane. Her pants, khaki slacks, the kind with a gathered waist, were easily three sizes too big. Like she’d lost 30 or 40 pounds. She didn’t look strong, as if walking was a struggle. There are times in life when reality smacks you in a flash, straight to your core. I don’t know what we’re supposed to feel, I’m not sure I could describe what I did feel. It felt numbing, and stunning, overwhelming, sad, desperate.
We made our way back. I think her face wasn’t smiling anymore. But it was beautiful in the most natural way.