Sunday, July 12, 2009
They sped past us on the lake—a handful of boats, each filled to capacity with young men, engines full throttle, voices above the roar, laughing.
And, sharply turning Red Canoe to ride their wild wake face-first, we waited and watched, buffeted by waves as they drove on into the distance, as a group.
The open water, theirs to write upon—
in sweeping curves carved across its surface.
Before we could discern the source, loud rumblings from engines struggling against unwilling water suddenly drove several large birds from the lake to the sky, and we rounded the corner to find the boats nearby again. This time, maneuvering wildly in a small area just ahead of us, back and forth across the narrow channel, bearing down upon the one who had not flown off with the rest, to safety.
Hoping to drive over it, devour it with their engines and swallow it beneath the churning water, the pursuit of this desperate, unfortunate bird had become their afternoon sport.
And, although every part of me wished to scream out against them, “Stop it!”--
I held my hand to my mouth in silence.
And we backed Red Canoe slowly away.
I am reminded daily, of our differences—
as I walk the narrow lane past the homes of my neighbors, who, on one side of the street are dismantling their wooded lot, one tree at a time to achieve perfect green,
while on the other, they are planting a forest.
Shared place means nothing more.
We share a space, but not a purpose.
The next morning in our campsite beside the lake, we woke again to the song of the Wood Thrush, this time just inches beyond our tent wall, resounding in the dampness left from a night of rain—a private dawn concert for two.
And as he sang beside us, a chorus so loud and clear, repeating each phrase again and again until we knew the pattern perfectly, in that place between sleep and wakefulness, I found myself singing his same song.
As I walked the camp roadway toward the bathhouse later that morning, past the constant commotion of radios already tuned to the rambling pre-race commentaries, I found a box turtle crossing the blacktop pad of an empty site, his shell bright with color, eyes watchful of me and my curious approach.
Then, before another could stumble upon us and wonder what I found so beautiful in this slow-moving form—his questioning neck raised, each small step so deliberate.
I tucked him beneath the dense brush in silence.
And backed slowly away.