I love walks. Being out in the fresh air gives me hope that I’ll have many days to stroll. When I walk I’m not the only one who goes along. My husband comes to ensure I will not fall of cliffs (yes, I have tried. Not intentionally, but the brain picks its own method of self destruction.) He’s been keeping me from falling off things for 36 years, so he does have some experience.
The leaves have just begun to change. In the back yard, the London Plane trees went from green to brown to on the ground in a new record this year. My maples are just starting to change their color orientation, with or without Mother Natures’s permission. The gum tree, in back of the magnolia which started at five feet tall and now is taller than the house in the 24 years or so we’ve been here. I have three magnolias. All have the dreaded seed pods that attack when you attempt yard work. The mocking birds and robins seem to relish the bright red seeds and have mock battles with the squirrels. No one wins or loses in their combat. I believe it’s mostly for the noise and excitement, like humans, there is charge to their world if chaos reigns.
The humming birds have left. Their stroll takes them south to a mystery place. I never told you but I had a humming bird sit on my head month ago. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. I was reading on the back steps while the pups did their sniffing routine. It was cruising the neighborhood. There was a soft breeze on my head, a light weight, and I was motionless. The experience? Priceless. It stayed for only a few seconds, I believe it was a humming bird equivalent of a nap. As it took off, it hovered for a moment in front of my eyes, just there and then gone. I guess off on its own stroll.
The bald eagles hover up in the air, surveying my path. They watch and wait for someone to drop a fish, snake or other loathsome falling from the sky. They are the royalty again now that the osprey have headed to Costa Rica. Funny how the smaller birds keep the eagles from getting too cocky. We have a murder or two of crows here as well. One species is the fishing crow with its nine inch body. Then there is the family of George. I call them that because my father always called the crows he met George. When I asked why, he told me it was a good name. They are larger, louder and will work with the sparrows to chase the owls at first light. Poor owls just want a nap by then. I guess it’s payback for the lack of sleep some of the smaller birds have at night.
Last night a different species of owl arrived, a different call identified it as “Not the Usual” barred owl. It was much more sophisticated in its lunacy. Barred owls have an insane cry, especially at four in the morning. It’s a hoot, hoot, and a scaled digression that sounds like a turkey gone bonkers. Even the wild turkeys around here look up when they hear the cry, not out of fear, but wondering if crazy old Aunt Loopy has arrived for November’s visit.
I think constantly as I walk. I write poetry on invisible sheets of paper which blow away before I can get home to write them down. I see a list of words, or my husband says something out of the blue that demands I use it, or the dogs bring me things. I’ll give you an example: red leaf, blue sky, mushroom cities, blue birds, raucous cry, diving, heron, snap, slip, fern, caught, kiss, toy wand, treasure. Pretty random, yes? But I take the list and within five minutes this is what happens.
A heron, diving with its magic wand, lands,
Slips upon the red mud, catches itself,
as blue birds and eagles snap their fingers in
Appreciation for the performance.
Blue skies filled with mushroom cities,
Far above our red leaved trees, ferns,
Delight in the loud and raucous cries
From starlings resting for just a moment.
Caught by audience and unable to move
Without creating a scene, I watch
Time creating a masterpiece of unmatched
Performances. Nature gives me a kiss.
A kiss upon my lips, my ears, my eyes,
What treasure is provided for us,
Beneath chilly sunning mornings starting
With the red skies of adventure at dawn.
Yup, that’s what I do when I walk. I lose almost all of the poems to reality, as it snaps me back into focus. You know, things like “Dogs approaching, manners must be initiated.” That means taking my beasties off the trail and making them sit, so the oncoming dogs can pass without a scene. Or things like a branch falling just out of the path, so I have to become aware of the present in a larger venue. Then there is the husband’s comment, “So, what do you think?” That’s the dangerous one. It means I dreamed through the conversation, again. Again, and he knows it. I hit the mental rewind in my head, load the last couple of things he said, and guess at the possible meaning. From this I construe an answer with enough details to pretend I was listening and offering him further time to explain. He counters with “What’s that your thinking? Your eyes have changed.” That means I’m busted.
I don’t need to be anywhere special to be possessed by the spirit of the stroll, it comes to me easier than breathing. I just wish I could walk and type at the same time.
I had a best friend once. Brian O’Malley of the O’Malleys related to the pirate Grace O’Malley who was more of a sharp business woman with a passion for being independent. He said that listening to the conversations in my brain caused him mental whiplash at times. I think that was probably the most accurate description of my thinking processes. I wish he had realized how important such feedback was and not wandered off when I went through dark times. No, it wasn’t a romance. It was someone who thought I was “entertaining?” He was a muse of mine for a bit.
My husband takes all of my mental vacation in stride. He’s not threatened if I wander into new territory, meet people, find unknown paths among the white matter of my brain. He’s a muse of mine as well. He keeps everything I scribble, on anything but food, and pours it back into me when I need a refill of words. I can use them over and over if they are good words.
If you send me a list of words that you collect on your walks, I can make poems for you. I’d like that. Perhaps you will be entertained as well. One caveat, don’t fall off cliffs collecting the words. It hurts if you hit the rocks below.