What are you continuing that someone else began?
Journal | Week of August 15, 2022
For those new to my e-community, and at the request of some readers, I’m piloting a weekly offering of snippets from my daily writing (tidied up a bit ;-)
August 15, 2022 | Monday
Thirty. 30 years. Which is about 1,565 weeks, or 10,957½ days.
Happy anniversary to us.
Once upon a time, looking forward, I would have thought, Ooooh, such a long time. Now, looking backward, other words come: eyelash, beetle wing, stray whisker, mu meson*. So many tiny spent things.
On day one of those 10,957½ days, I married an owlman. How do you sum up 30 years on a shared journey? Whoosh, comes to mind, but neither time nor owl wings actually sound like that.
*a mu meson, now called a muon, is my favorite subatomic particle with a half-life of 1.56 microseconds. Everyone has a favorite subatomic particle, yes?
August 16, 2022 | Tuesday
Thirty years plus one. Is it day 10,958 or 10,958½ since we put on our wedding costumes? I don’t know what to do with that mathematical half-day.
Still exploring the blur of us.
Love, gratitude, banging heads, tending wounds, shared losses, adventures beyond anything we could have dreamed up individually,
so many birds and bugs and wild creatures in so many places, 3 sets of cats and a step-dog, intricacies of extended families, confluence of wonderful-quirky friends,
time as lines settling comfortably into our skin, silver at the temples reminding us that 10,957½ days together has its own luminous value.
August 17, 2022 | Wednesday
Before we ever knew we’d be, as a friend said, “an item,” my owlman, the once-leader of the California Raptor Center, drove me out at dusk to ag fields beyond the UC Davis campus. He pursed his lips and squeaked, imitating a field mouse.
A kind of sorcerer, he summoned a Barn owl on silent wings. In the dimming light, the owl’s belly glowed white as it hovered above us looking for its prey before evaporating, poof!, beak empty and likely perplexed, into the night.
Then, just the two of us, the first faint stars, and a chorus of crickets hidden in field stubble. We stood listening for a long time, looking into the vast sky where that bird-being had just been.
Beginnings always involve a little magic, don’t they?
Consider this. Now is a beginning.
August 18, 2022 | Thursday
Surprise, it’s today again. Here we are, together, navigating the gradual process of losing owlman to an irreparable heart condition.
Beginnings and endings. You get a piece of paper with both. You also get memories so vivid they stand out like yetis or unicorns in the 27,375 days, mostly forgotten, that the average person in the developed world gets to spend on this planet.
We are here is better. We. Are. Here.
Each day is a wild bird I try to hold on to, keep from flight, coax to stay for a good long visit. If you pay attention to the details embedded in the hours, bits of reality at the margins of awareness, you can summon the memory of any day as easily as a Barn owl at dusk.
Look around. What do you see? What do you hear?
Through the window, wind through the Larkspurs, pink flowers opening, one at a time, up each tender, swaying green stalk. An Anna’s hummingbird, licking into the blossoms, lifts. She comes to the window, swinging her body side to side, a feathered pendulum. She’s talking: chittery, chittery, chittery, chittery, chittery! Little bird sees my torti-girl, whiskers to glass, watching her.
The bird, the cat, the moment all say, look at me. Also, remember this.
August 19, 2022 | Friday
Drifting into sleep, my owlman calmly offers, “I’ll keep the ghosts away from you.” He’s a wildlife biologist, science guy, not one to worry about herding ghosts. Still, when your ending is closer than your beginning, nights become numinous.
“Are you asleep?” I ask. Quiet. Then a whispery response, “I don’t know.”
Some say sleep is practice for death. I think sleep is a quick, all-expenses paid trip to someplace else so you can deal with being here the next day.
“I like ghosts,” I answer, looking into the darkness above our bed, “though I prefer spirit beings, especially the ones we know, and really, I think ghosts, spirit beings, are only kind. So, I’m okay if they hang out with me.”
Is this a game? Are we playing? Am I inside or outside of his dreaming? Is he channeling another dimension more real than this one now?
A long quiet. Tabby-boy jumps up onto the bed, purring, nestling into my hip, then quiet, too. A tail wrapped around my wrist, I’m off for my nightly getaway, when I hear, “Okay, the ghosts can stay.”
August 20, 2022 | Saturday
All afternoon, I pull weeds and berry brambles from the trails my husband made through our four acres of woods. A trailblazer, he opened these pathways through redwoods, Sitka spruces, Cascaras, the tangles of huckleberries and waxy-leafed salal for two reasons.
One, the man needs to be in the wild, submerged, the forest an ocean of green with currents of otherwise unseen life. Two, the trails are a gift to me, to my poet’s heart, which knows that real poems are wordless and wild, rooting in earth then body then mind with its love of labels.
Pricks of blood make their own path along my forearms. Thank you thorns for reminding me I’m alive. Every so often, a few ripe berries, tart more than sweet, my mouth watering as I write this line.
One way you love someone is to tend to what they can no longer tend to, continue what they began.
August 21, 2022 | Sunday
Listen. Random chirps and peeps in the darkness and dense fog clouds. Birds leaving here for their other lives somewhere else.
Migrant birds pecking about all summer make me feel a bit like ‘the other woman.’ Where will they be all fall and winter? Will anyone there love them as much as I do? No jealousy, just curiosity.
More trail tending, the sun emerging late from the misty morning.
For a fourth day my upper right arm hurts, a bruise-y ache, but no bruise, though now a path of flaming red bumps, elbow to shoulder. My mind distracts with humor, Why do they call it Shingles? Because you want to jump off a roof.
Blue feathers appear, random, as I pull away prickly vines and wicked berry canes. I rub one feather along my bumpy arm, feel the downy barbs, then hold it over my head and blow it upwards, watching it twist then fall, arrow-like, into a deer fern.
Later, a feather bouquet and a quirky thought, maybe I’ll make my own bird out of these.
What details in the space around you, right now, will help you remember this day? Please share in a comment and maybe spark a conversation.
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