Toadies

It’s amazing how resilient things in nature are, and nature in general for that matter. Some mornings Lily and I go out for our run before sunrise. That way I get my exercise totally unseen by anyone else unless they too are sweating, panting, before-dawn runners. When we do run then the little toads are still warming themselves on the asphalt greenway which held warmth from the previous day. Lily loves these. She likes making them hop and when they stop, hoping she will go away and leave them alone she gently paws at them until they hop away again so she can continue giving chase. It’s a game to her. When they stop and really ignore her she loses interest. Or if I decide she’s pawed a toad one too many times and pick it up. She backs away from it knowing at one end is an extremely bitter-tasting, saliva froth-inducing liquid that she wants no part of. So the little toad sits in the warm palm of my hand until I think she has moved on to better things and I can put it down.

We see many interesting things on those runs actually. Bats circling overhead though not as many now as we used to see. Sometimes the moon is just coming up or just going down. A sprinkling of fading stars. Often with a full moon there are odd shadows and eerie reflections that give me pause but on investigating I’ll see it was a remnant pool from recent rainfall or a long vine moving in a breeze. Funny though walking the same path later in full sun how different things appear when you can actually see what they are.

Same thing with people. In business you talk to someone on the phone, get to know them, their families. You create an image of how you think they appear from what they’ve said or how they sound. Then if you actually ever see them how different sometimes they appear, or how exactly like what you’d imagined.

Only they aren’t toadies. Or bats. Not usually. You hope.

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Downhill

When I was in college I had an English professor who was then the most eclectic person I had ever met. He taught American Romanticism among other things and lived his work. When he taught Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter he came to class wearing his black professor’s robes with a red letter “A” sewn to it. I could have sworn he was an incarnation of Ahab when he taught Moby Dick. He smoked a pipe but not in the classroom. He just held it between his teeth as he bellowed his lectures and the professor who followed him at next period’s class had to blow/brush pipe tobacco off everything. In one of his lectures he suddenly stopped ranting and pacing and slowly turned toward the class of spell-bound students, “How do you visualize the calendar?” We were quiet for a moment and some of us called out what we saw… most said a large oval with summer and brightness at the top, winter and darkness at the bottom, fall and spring to the sides, orange and green, respectively. He considered our answer for a few moments. Then: “Do you go to the days or do they come to you?” Almost to a person we chimed “We go to them.” No idea what bearing this had on his lecture that day, he may have been trying to gauge what kind of people we were. There were very few right or wrong answers in his class, but that discussion made an impression and I’ve never forgotten him.

So now we’ve passed the summer solstice. The days are getting shorter. We are beginning the long slide down toward winter when the earth sleeps, in this hemisphere anyway. Almost like we have been riding a cosmic bicycle up, hard-pedaling to get to the top and now we pedal slower on level time, to the point where we brake-coast-brake down to the colder and dimmer months. Light fades earlier, grows later. We cut back summer’s spent growth of flowering stems. We rest then, we hope anyway, before we pick up the long push back into burgeoning spring and full-out bursting summer as noisy with crickets and bird chirping as it is bright with color.

Do southern-hemisphere places celebrate Christmas in their winter, July, or not?

Benediction

Relationships are so fluid. Some neighbors can be closer than family, some friends almost seem to understand what it is like in your own skin, it’s eerie. Then the relationship changes.

A friend I have known for many years, more than 15 anyway, suddenly dropped off my radar. Just like that. No more emails, no responses, replies, no communication. She and I were never what I would call particularly close, but seemed like-minded in many ways and shared interesting aspects of our lives. So maybe that funny little email that goes around every so often “Friends come into our lives for a reason or a season” actually means something. Or I am just at an age where I think nothing will change, then a small, imperceptible ripple and *poof* someone disappears.

She and I have acquaintances in common but no one seems to know. A mystery I suppose of perhaps a butterfly that happened between our lives and so altered a cosmic metaphysical aspect such that we are on entirely different wavelengths. We no longer hear the same harmonics, or feel the same rhythm. Sad, but it happens I guess.

As John Donne claimed, “No man is an island, entire of itself…” we feel it when someone fades from view. A piece of our world has cracked or been pierced and must be mended. It will be, in time. In the meantime we continue on and eventually realize we are whole again, healed, and healing.

Thanks my friend for having enriched my life for however brief or long a time. All good things to you.

Endings… and beginnings

It seems funny to me to be writing about my divorce after 32 years of being so. Like I had to hit the ground flying right away. Even though I had less than most to juggle and was more fortunate in many ways. A family business to work in and a family who actually welcomed me because things were kind of tough at the time, a 2-year-old son who was remarkably placid and obedient, and a car that ran. So I had a lot going for me, but I had a lot to regroup too, like most single parent women I guess.

First was I had really believed in marriage. Ultimately not mine obviously, but when all was said and done and the dust settled I had to grieve the death of it. I had never realized in my youthful naivete that the marriage itself was a living, breathing entity ostensibly nurtured by the two presumably cooperative and loving participants. But we weren’t. Loving or cooperative, at least not at the end and actually, during the 4 or 5 years of it, not usually at the same time, either. But somehow it seemed to work.

Until the baby came.

Throw a baby into an already thin-iced mix of problems and you basically go crashing through the surface into frigid depths. And the baby has to be protected at all costs from becoming collateral damage. Because it was never anything s/he had anything to do with in the first place. S/he was meant to be an expression of love, not drunken lust or selfish ambivalence. If both participants in the marriage aren’t equally enthusiastic about this newcomer one of them has to carry the heft and one can’t. It’s something both parents are meant to do together. Not the baby’s problem.

So yesterday was the anniversary of the end of my marriage and the beginning of something I was never going to be ready for- single parenthood, family business and figuring out why I’d got to that place in the first place. Most parts found their wholeness. For better or for worse my son did grow up, found a solid career which he enjoys, and a girlfriend. The family business thing did not work out because my dad and I could not find a level playing field. I never figured out what I was gifted for, so maybe now, on my own with no one but me and a devoted canine friend to be responsible for, I can.

Hope springs eternal, and where there’s life…