Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two Nights Camping

"You're in luck!" the old man said to Kevin.  "There was a cancellation half an hour ago!"

When he returned to the truck and told us, we all cheered.  Even our little guy Trevor, who had been holding his hands to his tummy because he needed to poop.

"I prayed," said Tamara.

We got Site #82 and much to Trevor's relief it was next to the #7 outhouse.

Inside our camping trailer...  "What are you doing, Mom?"

"Testing out the bed," I said.  I explained the extra blankets were put on the mattress to keep the bed springs from poking us.

"Take a test, take a rest!" he chanted.  "Take a test, take a rest!"

Thankfully there was no fire ban, but our wood was damp and it took considerable time to get the flames going.  "Gotta do smaller pieces," said Kevin.  "Slivers."

Finally he cheated with gasoline and by six the fire blazed well enough to roast four European wieners.  He inhaled his hot dog but I enjoyed every bite slowly.  Imagine what it's like to eat while the occasional whiff of marijuana from neighboring sites overpowers the campfire smell, and the nearby river continuously roars.

By the way, we ate our vegetables like good little Canadians.  Trevor opted only for grape tomatoes, or Moon Squirters, as Tamara likes to call them.

Next day I got time to myself so I wandered through the forest, listening to the male British narrator inside my head and pondering endorphins until I reached a clearing where a green-vested fisherman was pissing into the river.  It would've been funny if he got a bite on his hook at that exact moment!

I kept going until I arrived at a small beach just as a group of Japanese people were leaving.  They left behind their artwork, four sand balls upon leaves and Canada spelled with rocks.  Later Trevor stepped on one of the balls without realizing it, but he and his sister made some more until there were nine.

I could share more details of our camping trip.  I could tell you about the bearded guy with the happy wrinkles who told me he lost somebody and that he lost his marbles, too, but he had been born with some missing anyway.  Or I could tell you about the people who came to visit us briefly while we were there, but then this would be a longer blog post.  And long blog posts—like long-winded speeches—are too much work, don't you think? 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Stairs

Deena put on her hat—the ridiculous one covered in fake flowers, the one that was floppy as hell—and stood at the top of the stairwell.  The scar on her left cheek glinted in sunlight that slanted from the rectangular skylight.  She inhaled.

Suspense.  Exhilaration.  That's what she wanted.

And if you were standing beside her, you'd notice the grandfather clock at the bottom next to the front door.  You'd see the pile of shoes down there, the white ruffled curtains around the window, the yellow stains in the carpet.  Most likely you'd descend the staircase as you would any other day.

But Deena was different.

Two seconds into her exhalation, she leapt like a gleeful frog off the lip of that top step and reveled, ever so briefly, in the whoosh until she smashed.  The landings, of course, were always a problem.  This time she landed heels first onto the step with the skid marks on it, second one from the bottom, and fell on her back against the hard edges behind.

Tick.  Tock.  Tick.  Tock.

There was a knock.  "Where's my hat?" she gasped.  It had flown off mid-jump and come to rest beside her head.

Alfred entered through the front door.  Still sprawled over the stairs, she put on her hat.  "Oh, it's you!" she said.  "I haven't seen you in years."

He stroked his bushy mustache.  "Been a while," he said.  "I see you still leave your door unlocked just like you always did."

"What have you been doing?" she winced when she sat up.

"Mostly lying."

"Hah.  Well, people will believe anything."

He thought for a moment.  "I'm broke, you know."

"Me too," she said.  "I think my back is broke."

Alfred closed the door and nodded at the grandfather clock.  "It's seven.  I've got lotsa time."

"No, it's not seven.  It's six!" Deena said.  Thus began their staring contest.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

a taste of Buechner

... when it comes to putting broken lives back together—when it comes, in religious terms, to the saving of souls—the human best tends to be at odds with the holy best.  To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still.  The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from.  You can survive on your own.  You can grow strong on your own.  You can even prevail on your own.  But you cannot become human on your own.

Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

miracle garden

I know there are gardens more extravagant, but this one brings me joy because it's the one I've been tending.  The size is manageable.  The vegetables nourishing, the flowers various and beautiful.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

here i am, plumbing again

To love—the paragon against which all else falls flat.  No words could possibly convey this deep, unfathomable thing that dances in the heart and oozes outward.  Oozes?  No, cascades as if light itself were bending and falling and multiplying.

Can light spread or is it already multiplied?  The dawn brightens slowly but sunlight reflects from water in various lines and shapes.  Through the window and into the pool, inside the apartment building, it forms a rippling rectangle that doesn't appear to multiply at all.

How is it that the speed of light is faster than I can comprehend, yet the dawn arrives slowly?  It's the earth that's slow, isn't it?  A tiny ball rotating amongst a plethora of stars in a universe of which none of us has seen the end.