Thursday, April 08, 2010

between the bookends

Today was the day when the traffic gods looked down and said, whoops. Missed a spot. Adjusted, and smiled. There. That's better.

(on the highway, I hit 62 mph, I blinked and wondered if I was speeding too egregiously.)

At the moment, however, I'm sitting in a very untrafficked chair at the table - and contemplating the Headache That Swallowed New England. It began modestly, by sneering at a couple of extra-strength, fast-release acetaminophen. An hour later, it was sending me fun auras* to entertain and enliven my day, and chortling at the migraine stuff that I tossed at it. The Eldest was rescued, and brought home to a limp mama, who winced when he explained that feeding was in order.

TROMP, TROMP, TROMP, said the headache, and the mama considered hiding under the table. Feed us, said the children, and the mama considered turning green.

But in between these two ostentatious bookends, there was something completely different. It began with a triple handful of salted, roasted nuts at a picnic bench, overlooking a pond, with two kinds of ducks, geese and a dive-bombing blue jay.

Moving past the duck pond, we headed for the dam, and a ruthless rushing of sound and momentum that I can hardly do justice here:
The water poured heavily through the dam, garnished by the millstone that was once strategically placed, and now? is aesthetically, possibly nostalgically sited.

Unless you ask the lichen.

I ran my finger in the swirled grooves of the millstone, listening to the falling water's white roar. The noise seemed to wrap itself around me, ruthlessly carrying away something that I'd been holding on to.

We climbed the rocks, she looking upstream, I looking downstream. Quieter now, the water whisked past iron-rich rocks, veins of quartz and mica, through clumps of swamp cabbages, wild onions, and sprouting lily-ish bulbs that looked awfully promising. We'd lost - no, scorned - the path. Climbing the banks, raspberry canes tried to delay us, but we ducked and kept wandering.

Eventually, reluctantly, we walked back towards the roar of the dam, the brisk pace of the day, watching bacteria exhale a shimmering metal, the fiddleheads uncoil and a snail, tiny, considering the sun. Leaving behind us a pool of quiet and ruthless growth. Later, I'd hand three wild onions and a tiny violet, bulb and all, to a preschool teacher. She'd grin at me over her armful of sticks, collected on a walk with the children. We'll build the alphabet with these, she told me.

I nodded. An eddy of meaning, I nearly said. Instead, I offered the Toddles a wet stone from the water, and watched him trace veins of quartz in it, turning it over and over. Over his head, the teacher smiled.

To the lady who wisely brought the maps, and then surpassed her own wisdom in ignoring them: my thanks.

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