14 September 2010

I'll hide my smile

Poor AT. She's admitted that she wasn't too thrilled about my phone call last Tuesday. The one that started, "Hey Walking Buddy, the kids are back in school..."

But she's game.

This morning, as I charged down the channel trail, AT in tow, I stopped to admire an egret on the channel, an orb weaver and its web high up in a tree.

I smiled at the dogs that trundled by, pounded the WALK signal button a thousand times.

"Sorry," I told her as I got distracted by a plane soaring overhead. "I look at things..."

She murmured something that sounded like "that's alright."

Most people are confused by my enthusiasms, my boundless energy to know everything, do everything, see everything. I have a cell phone that is three or four years old, and I can't be bothered to replace it, but I will wander off somewhere Very Far Away.

When I got home, I diced and chopped and browned, and now I've almost got tomorrow night's dinner done: Beef...er. I guess we can call it stew. It has wine in it, but not Burgundy.

I went to open the laundry room window to help release the smell of frying salt pork from the house, and saw the Cooper's hawk blinking at me calmly from the fountain. It was gone before I could grab my camera.

Meanwhile, Milton was cussing at Olivier through the dining room window.

As I ran back and forth, working through a thousand little chores, singing at the top of my lungs (always a dangerous proposition), I then saw a little blob on the fountain. It seemed to be a small bird, but it wasn't moving, or splashing. Just sitting.

I walked quietly to the French doors, and the blob continued unmoving. Could a bird have just died on the edge of the fountain? I worried.

I walked through the door and the blob resolved itself into a goldfinch, sitting there little black bead eyes open wide, no motion but for its tail feathers rising and falling with the tiny waves in the fountain. I couldn't even see breath.

"What happened to you?" I asked, as the breeze lifted the downy fluff on its breast.

At which point, the bird emerged from it reverie or coma, and SCREAMED at me, taking off in flustered flight for the far end of the garden. I shook my head.

"Not dead yet," I murmured to Milton who'd come to the screen door to investigate. He stared at me for a moment and then asked about lunch.

My odd and wonderful life.

I rarely read through what I've written here. If I did, I'd probably never write again. But last night I scanned through some of the recent weeks, and was rather surprised to see how dour I've sounded.

I'm actually quite happy. Largely content.

Oh, I grant that I still have plenty of frustrations. The weird notebook stuff, the missing textbook fiasco, the unfilled prescriptions, the thousand little insults and delays that eat my days. But there has been more pleasure to balance out the annoyance and take the sting from the obstructions. Even if it doesn't always sound like it.

And anyway, you can't see me bouncing through the house, singing. Laughing, even.

(The cat does, and he objects. The son will peer at me in confusion, and ask, "Why did you just laugh?" "Because I can," I respond blithely.)

Things have happened. My brain, which can so handily churn through reams of data but rejects out of hand any hypothesis that contains me, has made peace with the universe. The equation is really simple: you smile, I smile, you goof off, I laugh, you laugh, too. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Better to make it a good reaction. It's simple. And simplicity is good. It's a dance in the driveway for the daughter, a discussion of existentialism with the son.

Since the beginning of summer, particularly since mid-August, a lot of the crazy from the last two years has finally shaken out and plenty has gotten back on track. At the end of the day, I'm ok, a little worse for wear, but ok.

I'll hide my smile for as long as it takes me to get out the door. And then no more. The people in my world deserve my smile, and I know my laughter brings them joy.

And I'm glad. Whatever happens, I am glad.

Go listen to some good music: "Outside" from the album Here At Home by Tribe.

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