Post #103: The Riot of Roots

IMG_2690The air is so heavy, so moist I almost feel as if I could grab great fistfuls of it all, smash it together,  and fling them as summer snowballs.

It has been raining, incessantly it seems, but today, miraculously it is not. In truth, I don’t want to go outside but the fact that it’s actually dry is more than little guilt inducing. So I sidle onto the front porch, tentatively blinking into the sunlight like a mole who has just emerged from her subterranean warren.  The heat around me bears down like a heavy woolen blanket and I am absorbing the feeling of flame, my skin almost crackling, sweat beginning to drip like pan juices.

From high up on the porch I can look down on the cars below, their metallic shells gleaming in the harsh sunlight like the brilliantly colored backs of the jewel beetles, suburban scarabs.

The walkway curves in front of me, but I’m dragging, I’m dawdling.  Oh  go, just go for a bit!  And so I do, sluggishly shucking off my lethargy and dipping into the afternoon.

My feet slap awkwardly at the pavement a bass thrum counterpoint to the soft muted blue of the sky.  The grass is uncombed and unruly, having grown bold and swaggering after weeks of rain.  Weeds sprout with insolent abandon, bullying the surrounding flowers. There is no one on the streets, save myself, and even the cars scoot by furtively as if ashamed to be out in this heat.

And yet, the houses look cool, calm, collected. These are proud little city houses, each perched on  tiny intricately formed postage stamp plots, buildings that sprout in proper formation like the petals of a bachelor’s button, their stubby front yards bearded with hedges trimmed so tight and so crisp that I swear you could bounce a quarter off the tops.

The trees that anchor the sidewalks appear isolated,  standoffishly separate. But I know that’s not true. I know they are all linked by an unseen riot of roots reaching deep to the center of the earth, stretching always towards each other, clinging to the soil.

I think about this for a moment because it’s that linkage that I am yearning for this afternoon,  that linkage that I crave.

***

We stumble through our days, all of us so busily patterned, the lines of our anxious movements separately mapped like the intricate tunnels of an ant farm.  The lonely paths seem so separate,  a crisscross such a bitter rarity.

For all of you who are so very far away, I wonder what your days are like, do we sometimes wake at the very same instant, choose the exact same sandwich for lunch, laugh at the same absurd joke, dream the same dreams?

I wonder.

Forget cell phones and texts dinging at us all for just a moment or two.  I love that too, it’s fun and a bit titilating and you bet I love it as much as everyone else does. 

But there is something even better.

Once, a very long time ago, someone I loved very much was very far away.  We made a plan.  Separated by miles and oceans and time zones nonetheless we would think of each other at the very same moment.  Eyes tightly shut, hearts reaching out, a connection that crackled.   It happened, it can happen again and again.

Because of course, below the surface, roots run deep, steadying the trees to grow strong and upright,  but always as well reaching out towards each other, for each other.  Deeply connected. Beyond time and place.

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Post #101: Three Walks

IMG_2564That’s that! I’ve had enough. And without another thought, without a look back I am on my way, shoelaces trailing, hair streaming,  papers flying.   Loose ends follow me all the way to the door, cajoling, wheedling, yanking me back.  But I pull past and with a sharp snap the door shuts behind me.

So simple! Move from one place to another. One foot in front of the other. Repeat and repeat and repeat.  It is the most practical thing in the world. But today I don’t feel in the least bit practical.

A Noticing Walk

I am moving, my feet going and going on the sidewalk,  a conveyer belt to the whole neighborhood.   

To my left, tough gnarled old trees are crammed into plots barely bigger than a breadbox, squeezed into their spaces like a fat lady’s foot in a too tight shoe.  The trunks writhe and twist, their branches reaching up to the sky to sway to some etherial sound, undulating to unheard music, perhaps a concert played by God Himself.

My stride lengthens. 

To my right, the houses are tucked in tight, neat and tidy, like a riffled shuffled deck of cards. A hedgerow stands shoulder to shoulder, in tight verdant formation. A few steps on a fence tightly buckles in a yard, unable to contain the voluminous hydrangeas spilling over the buckle of the gate.  Just beyond, spied through a tangle of branches, a tiny hidden playhouse, complete with miniature yellow Adirondack chairs,  a perfect replica of the big house just beyond.

An untrimmed hedge, tendrils shyly reaching out as if for comfort.  Gaudy necklaces of flowers ring the gardens. A few pugnacious weeds elbow their way through the cracks in the pavement.

Then a break through the hedge and I am at the shore.  The world seems somehow wider, so expansive that my vision cannot take it all in.  In front of me is a carpet of water, the sky layered above, clouds littered carelessly on top.  Gradations of Rothko blue.

A gust and the clouds gambol through the sky.   I am once again on my feet. With the whoosh of wind,  I am remembering.

A Drifting Walk

The whoosh of wind. I remember my youngest sister, slight and small, was so delicate and light that my Dad would joke, we all would joke, “that she could blow away in a big gust of wind.”

We laughed but I always worried.  I could see her carried off her feet, snatched by the wind,  her fine straight pixie cut blown back. her hands reaching out imploringly, her eyes dark and frightened.  I would save her, I would save her for sure, by grabbing her by her red sneakered foot and pulling her back, bringing her back down to earth.

Back on solid ground, my middle sister and I, both of us bigger, stronger, watchful, would then take her hands and walk together.  We would find the ice cream truck. I held the dimes for the Eskimo Pies. Sitting on the front stoop, each of us would be in a race against the sun to eat before the vanilla would melt into rivulets, the chocolate sheaths slipping to the pavement.  After a few tentative bites, the littlest sister would ask for help to finish hers.  And we helped her.

As I walk on,  the air becomes dense, almost damp as the clouds above darken and hover.

An Imaginary Walk

Through the window, I can see clouds are gathering, dark and threatening. There’s not much time. I change my shoes and slip out of the office, climb up the dim stairwell. Shove open the doorway to the roof.

I am all alone up here.

The air has a heavy, muscular quality and I can almost see the delicate scribbles of the wind, the advance guard of the coming storm. There isn’t much time.

I begin to walk around and around. It’s a tight circuit. On a level with the tree tops, I can hear the birds’ nervous twitter as they nestle in the trees, surely looking for cover before the storm. Or are they shouting a warning to me?

I am on a pilgrimage of sorts, here as I am adjacent to the church. Drops are starting to plop around me and I find that I am stutter stepping trying to avoid them.  With a flash the sky releases a torrent of coolness.  I stop trying to dodge the rain and instead am embraced by it.

I continue to rhythmically walk in the tight little circuit of the roof, the rain pounding around me, a ratatat counterpoint to my steps. 

And then, just as quickly as it began, the storm ends.  The clouds recoil and reshape themselves once again, the sun streams through the sky.  I imagine that in a few steps I could break free and leap from cloud to cloud, bounding on high.  From there I could see the grid of the world, the pathways and byways, the swaths of space, the connectedness of it all.

***

My three walks, each path moving from vulnerability to a sense of invincibility through movement alone,  all smudge together as I move my feet ever forward.