Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Long Way to Go

As I turned off the bridge that crosses the river and started to run out from the shadows into the warm sun, I came upon a family. Two parents, one dog on a long leash that spanned half the trail, and three young kids that took up the other half. Together they managed to block the path from left to right.

I ran between the dog and a little boy who was darting to and fro with his sister. They were both about the same size, coming up to about my waist. Although the space between them and the dog was closing fast, I managed to squeeze thru and get by.

"Good," I thought and began to enjoy the sun on my fingers, which are constantly cold these days.

After about 30 seconds, I heard a voice behind me from what must have been that same little boy. I was a bit surprised that I could hear him so clearly, but after all he was a little boy and the sky was blue and the sun was warm.

"Hey!" said the little voice. "Let's run to that man up there. First one wins!"

I was too far ahead of them by now to be the man, but I imagined, without looking back, the race. I imagined the little boy getting a head start on his sister who darted off after him to catch up. And I imagined the third sibling realizing late that a race was on and running hard to catch up with the two of them. I imagined this.

Then I heard little racing footsteps on the trail, soft at first but getting louder. I heard them way behind me -- two, three kids running hard. They got louder and louder until I could hear the crunching of their shoes on the crushed granite and their panting just behind me. And then I saw someone about the height of my waist come beside me out of the corner of me left eye and just break the plane of my forward motion.

"I win!" a young boy's voice exclaimed.

Three little kids. Just up to my waist. Use me as the finish line of their race as if I was standing still.

I got a long way to go before that 10K race next month.

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Standing Watching His Oaks

A man stands under the blue sky with a cool breeze in his face and the warm morning sun on his back. A Red-bellied Woodpecker knocks on an Ash tree across the street. A Mourning Dove coos. A Blue Jay complains. In the distance a Crow calls.

The man stands there gazing at the uppermost branches of his Oak trees, checking their buds, wondering when the leaves will come, hoping they didn't get too dried out last year. He looks first at the Monterey Oak, remembering how small it was when he planted it only eight years ago, and then at the Lacey Oak, yearning for the return of its dusty blue-green leaves.

Two neighbors get into their car and look over at the man as they drive away. One of them smiles and waves. The other just stares with his mouth agape, evidently wondering about this spectacle of a man standing doing nothing in the sun with his neck bent back.

How can you live in the shadows of Oaks and not watch them when the sky is blue and the morning sun is shining and the birds are singing? On a warm day in early spring, how can you not hope for more rain and wonder when the leaves will come?

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