Thursday, July 27, 2006

Life, study

A few evenings ago, Naranja and I took a walk to the river, which included making our way along trails through fields and woods.

We walked first along a mowed trail which cut through the tall grasses of a fallow field. Little blue and white flowers like stars wavered and winked, wild oats swayed thin and tall with the rhythm of an invisible wind, and the occasional morning glory spiraled its way, in love, clinging, wrapping around a sturdy stalk of weed.

The field gave way to a stand of birch, light in color and years, but heavy with early evening birdsong. A deeper green came next, and faint rustlings of hungry things in the underbrush. Under a canopy of old oaks and towering elms we could begin to smell the river, to hear it clearly, as the leaf cover shut out the noise of the already fading sun. At last we came to the river. It spoke to us in low tones as it meandered its sure way around the bend.

On the sandy edge we stood, shifting our feet, looking into the deepest part of the current where the flow moves fast and unforgiving. We watched for something but saw only the river, that way it has of leaving but staying behind. We held our tongues - in respect of the river's speech. And then in silent agreement, the intuitive knowing of long years together, we turned to begin our way back, but not by the same way we had come.

As we picked up another loop of trail and settled into a mutual pace, we often switched places. Sometimes he would lead, set a new pace, and I would follow close behind, matching my steps to his rhythm. Then very naturally and without words, he would end up walking behind me and I would be the one with the open trail before me; his strong presence at my back. At one point, the trail widened. And we walked side by side for a time.

And as the light fell and night began to introduce herself, our conversation wove its way through the spaces between us, around us; our voices first soft then a little louder with laughter, then hushed again. And then we heard only the cadence of our footfalls and the fading sound of the river behind us until his voice, or mine again, rose to the work of spinning a new thread of conversation, asking a new question. Or re-mystifying an old one.

We returned home with a few yellow flowers, bright blooms that were sure to wither in a day. Still, I placed them carefully, artfully, in a milk bottle vase filled with cold, clear water.