I remember when I used to walk in town in the pre-dawn darkness and I would choose my routes to go past houses that I loved especially. Some for the way they looked, some for the way they felt. I could imagine myself living in some of those houses had I lived but a slightly different life. I can remember knowing in which houses people got up in early, their lights coming on and once I saw through a window as I passed, a father waking up his son. One tiny brief second and I will, for some reason, always remember.
Now I walk past trees that I love especially. That one above being one of them. It is not as large a live oak as many of them are here in Lloyd, but you can see its age in its gnarled branches and I love it. The house which some of the branches stretch over is abandoned now although when we first moved here, an old man lived there.
He is dead now and the house is beginning go fall apart. The tree stands watch over and beside.
On my last stretch today, I was walking past that house and the Sheik came walking out of the woods beside it. I knew he was coming from a road which lies behind it. I walk there, too. That's where I saw the rattler last week. We greeted each other. He was on one side of the highway, me on the other.
"Do you live back there?" I asked him.
"Nah, my brother does."
I wondered if it was the brother with the golf club who lost his eye in a bar fight but I did not ask.
"Okay," I said.
"How are you today?" he asked me.
I hesitated. "Some days are just harder than others," I finally said. "You know."
He nodded gravely. "Yes. They are."
I think he was probably on his way to Miss Liola's to check in. I was on my way to the post office and then home.
We wished each other a good day and went on our ways.
It is harder today. I do not know why. I slept ten hours last night and could have slept longer. When I woke up, I hurt everywhere, especially my legs and hips. A long-time chronic thing and obviously, it is not going to be the death of me. I don't hurt very much when I am taking my walks. My body just does it and mostly my mind goes away somewhere, to the book I am listening to, to the sky above where I see soaring hawks, vultures, the swooping pileated woodpecker, to the ground below me where I see the prints of animals, sometimes human footprints, to the woods beside me where everything now is so green, ten thousand shades of it as the new growth comes in, begins to grow into its summer maturity, the white blossoms of the blackberry in fields which have been cut but not for a year or two, the yellows and purples of the wildflowers.
And so I walk and sometimes I have to go a little ways into the woods to stop and pee and often, because of that I notice the tiniest of blooming things on the floor of the forest and the softest mosses, the fungi growing on downed branches. I always wonder what I am missing as I walk. Which animals are above and beside me, observing me even as I have no idea of their presence? I also wonder what the names of the plants and bushes I see every day are. Some, of course, I know. Most I do not.
Wonders and mysteries.
Now I'm home and Greta, my grand dog is here. She and Maurice are fine friends and touch noses upon greeting. Maurice slept with us last night, curled up, touching me. When I got up once and then got back in bed, she put her head to my hand and I scratched her until we both fell back asleep. She is a comfort to me. She is lying on the table now where I am writing this, Greta snoozes underneath. The magnolia leaves sigh in the breeze, the birds sing, the boys will be here soon, I am glad I have had my walk and I have taken Ibuprofen and it's probably going to eventually kill me but once I stop moving, the pain comes back and I am a human and would rather avoid as much pain as possible.
For this moment there is peace.
One cardinal sits on the feeder, two hens are beneath it.
I hear Trixie singing her hen song.
Happy Friday, y'all.