Saturday, July 19, 2014

La Passeggiata

I know from experience that one can’t go walking one’s beloved dogs forever.  Not off the edge of the earth.  Not, perhaps, even for a few stolen minutes at sunset.  I found that out yesterday.

Yesterday was Sunday and overcast, threatening to rain, but never delivering.  I spent the day alone, mostly.  Sporadically weeding, doing laundry, dead-heading the washed out pale pink Bonica roses and golden Stella D'oro lilies, turning from one thing to another and never quite completing anything.  The dogs alternated lounging on small rugs and beds to watching for bunnies in the front yard, eyeing the mulberry tree for squirrels, worrying the base of the lilac for moles.  After supper I sat on the back lawn, relaxed on a faded blue-green canvas recliner, reading.  Dogs found spots nearby on the patio to lie down and yet keep a sly watch for movement from me, or any errant creature.  The evening was quiet, amazingly so.  I heard no neighbors, no motors (only some quite distant).  I was reading Jean Rhys’ “Good Morning, Midnight” about a woman set adrift in Paris.  And though it was peppered with French phrases, I could parse them out well enough:  What is she doing here?  That old woman?  And I felt for the protagonist, alone, without purpose, a bit damaged, and trying to stay alive, to move through this life quietly, invisibly, if possible.

I took a small break from reading, breathing in the wonder of the quiet, to see that the sky had opened up, the smudgy haze had broken apart to reveal pale blue expanses marked with puffing pink and orange tipped cumulonimbus clouds billowing up.  I decided to talk the dogs for a walk.

We walked down to the creek, which is our usual route.  The streets were silent, but away from our house the wind was picking up and clearing out the sky into more high thunderclouds, both pinker and more orange, to the north and east (and thus, not coming towards us).  The light was turning golden as we came nearer the water.  The creek was full, but still.  Here and there a bullfrog sounded a thick, waterlogged twang from the banks.  A night heron flitted from between some locust trees.  We moved through patches of midges, which clouded around my face, but didn’t deter the dogs, which were busily sniffing the edges of tree roots and mown burdock along the rises of newly blooming elderberry bushes showing sprays of white dots in the darkening green.  Our movement also stirred up the mosquitoes, which began to light on my arms.  I pulled the dogs along, away from the water and up to the grassy park.  The cottonwoods were shimmering with the breeze, each leaf applauding into one another so ecstatically it seemed.  I rejoiced a little with them and wondered how long I could walk like this, in this lush twilight.  I thought of how no one else was out.  I passed houses where I saw televisions on, a man with his laptop parked on a couch.  I thought about how romantic it was to stroll the street at dusk, the freshness of the air, the show of the clouds, the holy silence of the earth.  I thought about being in Italy and how the evening brought the promenade, the walking around the piazza, before supper, being out amongst others, being a community, flirting, seeing and being seen.   Suddenly I felt tired, and I realized that this golden hour held only a few moments of splendor for me before I turned, pulling dogs with me, to go home.

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