Miss Betty

She was beautiful, her white hair appropriately cut, her large, round, gold framed sunglasses reflecting the few clouds hovering above Parker’s Lake in the otherwise clear blue sky. Her thin, pale hand pulling on the pretty little leash attached to her small Bichon mix. She walked in her comfortable shoes towards me along the asphalt path. I had stopped to photograph a turtle sunning itself on a rock just off shore, and when I turned and saw her she smiled a crooked smile and wished me a sunny day. I responded with “me and the turtle wish you the same miss”.

She paused, she didn’t know me; I wore a blue t-shirt exposing my tattoos and faded jeans and cheap, dark sunglasses. Then she turned full round and stepped back towards me only a single step and threw her tired arms in the air and said “who couldn’t enjoy a day like this”. I introduced myself and said “indeed it’s a beautiful day, almost as much as you miss.” She stepped closer this time and stuck her hand out, I grasped her hand gently and gave her my name, she told me I seemed like a nice guy to which I replied…”my fiancée seems to think so” and she slapped her knee and whipped around and said “oh darn it’s always the nice one aint it!” I laughed and she asked about my fiancée.

Leaning against a rock wall along Parker’s Lake under a strong and warm spring sun we chatted about love and politics and travelling, OCD, addiction and recovery. I was already late getting back to work after lunch but I didn’t care, she was sweet and funny and we quickly became friends. She had spoken about a book she was reading called Switching on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf and how it had transformed how she saw things. She said it showed her how to be happier…by choosing to be happy, she has OCD she said and her husband is a recovering alcoholic and she spoke about how sometimes we just need to decide to be happy and that it doesn’t matter what others believe or whether or not they accept us as we are, it’s up to us whether or not we choose to be happy on our own terms.

She patted me on the arm and said that we were meant to meet today, we saw eye to eye on some things and not so on others but we both enjoyed each other’s company for a little while on what had already been a beautiful day, but now had become much more than that for me. When we allow ourselves to remain open to what’s around us we invite opportunities to be rewarded, sure that means we can be hurt too, there’s always an innate risk there when we make ourselves vulnerable, but I’ll take that risk any day! Thank you Miss Betty.

Tailgate Day Dreaming

I sat on the open tailgate of my truck backed up to the lake, my feet hung just above the dark, cold water. I closed my eyes and felt the early November sun’s rays as they caressed my face. The air was thin, barely warm and the surface of the lake was peppered with busy American Coots with their murky plumage and bright yellow bills splashing and diving about.

Days like this are far and few in between this time of year, the sun more prevalent beyond the clouds on a regular basis and the ground normally wet and sometimes dusted with an early frost. Usually the winter coats have been donned and gloves worn against the impending winter chill.

But on this day as I sit and enjoy my lunch at Parker’s Lake from the bed of my truck I absorb the fresh air and smell of fallen leaves. This is the time of transition when we set our clocks back and we plunge into five and possibly six months of winter. But today I watch the waterfowl and the muskrats and I enjoy the afternoon, eat my fresh, cool radishes and daydream as I stare into the brilliant shine from the sun cascading across the water, reflecting a blue clear sky.

Conflicted

The sun beats in through the window from outside his car and burns the skin on the back of his neck, but it feels good. He squints to keep the light from piercing his eyes as he drives south along the river.

It’s been far too long since the heat of the sun caused him to perspire; it’s been bitter cold almost as long as he can remember and now the black leather wrapped steering wheel threatens to singe his palms if he moves his hands from ten and two.

There is a part of him, buried somewhere deep inside, hidden away, something that’s been there all along and though it doesn’t show itself he knows it’s there because there are echoes of its presence. That something makes him long for the bitter cold, in spite of his desire to pull his car to the side of the road and get out, and allow the full strength of the sun’s rays to wash over his self.

It’s that bitter cold that stung his cheeks when he faced it, that crept up under his skin like a shadow and stole away any heat stashed there. So why then does he want for it, why is it that he dreams of the chill that used to slide up under his pant leg like a thief?

It’s the warmth of the sun he knows he needs, it’s the gleaming off the pavement before him that makes his chest swell with excitement making him search for it, reach for it and throw his face skyward with arms outstretched inviting it in.

Yet he feels foolish, how can it last, it’s only a fantasy, he can count on the cold to be there mostly, he doesn’t question its presence, its bite, its bitter presence. So he leans his head against the window and feels the heat from the sun pour in over his forehead, he feels a drop of perspiration roll down in front of his ear and listens as it falls to the floor and soak in to the carpet at his feet.

He closes his eyes and swears to himself for feeling conflicted.

Deliverance

He stood on a gravel road awaiting the suns arrival, as the once enveloping darkness slowly retreated into the forest around him. The road disappeared around a bend before him and beyond a rise behind him. There he remained steadfast, his bare muscular arms covered in crisp, cool dew. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck erect and alert to the barely audible noises escaping the hidden places that surround him. His feet planted firmly, staking his presence in the moonless moments between the obscurities of night and eviscerating dawn. He knows not which way to turn; he beckons to his spirit to guide him, to show him the way.

He closes his eyes to hide the darkness, his mind awash with fear and trepidation. But still, unwavering he stays his place, confident with an open heart, his patience tested but unfaltering. As doubt begins to sneakily creep in from behind him, rising from the dirt and gravel like a thickening dense fog his eyes still closed tightly, he feels sudden warmth upon his brow, it slides down his cheeks and along his jaw to his neck like a silk scarf, the dew on his shoulders and arms rolls away and evaporates before it hits the ground.

The coolness of the sinister fog around his ankles slinks away quietly and when he opens his eyes his pupils recoil fast. A beautiful golden pink light floods his hazel eyes; his chest quickly rises as he breathes deeply, throwing his shoulders open and letting his head fall back mouth agape, he fills his lungs with the warm inviting air. With his arms outstretched and his fingers reaching, extended into the sunlight as it pours through the forest canopy and blankets the road in front of him he smiles and gives thanks, there is nothing more invigorating, more gracious and fulfilling as witnessing the days first light as it rushes in and chases away the darkness, shining upon the world highlighting all that is good and promising.