Beginnings and Endings

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life.”

–Dr. Louise Banks in the movie, Arrival (2016)

“Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears.”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

Beginnings and endings,

I hear the mockingbird sing.

 

A spring day in February,

we changed plans,

instead of a movie,

we went to lunch,

where we could sit outside,

 

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Valley Green Inn, February 2017

 

and take a long walk.

our server did Sesame Street character voices

(for the children at a nearby table),

he carried our dishes to us

announced them with a song,

kind of strange,

but so is spring in February.

 

We sat at our table watching people walk dogs,

and dogs walk people,

(dogs pulled leashes,

noses up, sniffing,

pulling toward the porch-

This way! There is food.)

we watched bicyclists,

and one unicyclist,

and I watched the geese

beginning and ending flights,

over and over

the same patch of the Wissahickon Creek,

a gaggle of honks and feathers in short, graceful flights.

Were they the same geese?

Was it a game?

Teenage geese in race?

I watched

wondering when they began

and when they will end this game,

their journey.

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We walked,

we talked,

spring fever,

people smiled

said hi as they passed,

everyone enjoying this glorious February day,

We strolled along the Wissahickon,

 

 

we could have veered off to another path—

(two roads and all that)

I think about other walks we’ve taken

and other times we’ve walked,

and other people who have walked where we walk,

will walk there after us,

wonder if they walk with us, unseen,

I think about paths and time and connections

and music that is triggered in my head

by a word,

a thought,

and the way that books take people through time and space.

I see scenes in my head as I read,

(do you?)

and sometimes I feel that I am there

in that moment,

in that place,

and sometimes I’m not certain if I’ve read a book

or seen the movie

because the scenes are so vivid

and when I write,

the characters become real,

they have always existed,

no beginning

no end

on a timeless path.

 

Days later,

I think about how I love books, shows, and movies with complicated storylines—

stories that move through time,

or are told from different characters’ points of view,

I realize

(of course, you will say)

it’s connected to my fascination with time and timelines,

different paths our lives could/might/may have taken,

the protagonist of our own lives,

a minor character in someone else’s,

a movie extra without lines.

 

I wonder if time passes the same way for everyone,

does the mockingbird singing before dawn

know the sun will come up soon,

that it’s a new day?

I wish I could ask him,

I wish I could understand his answer,

instead, I listen to his song,

and in that song

in the predawn darkness

he does communicate,

an announcement,

I am here. Listen!

Perhaps that is enough,

I relive the moment in my head

a moment past,

but present,

no beginning,

no end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walktober: Valley Green Inn and Forbidden Drive

This post is in response to Robin of breezes at dawn. Check out her blog. She writes about her world along the Eastern Shore and her Wabi-Sabi Ranch, and her blog also includes amazingly beautiful photos.

For the past few years we’ve visited the Valley Green Inn during the summer for my mom’s birthday. My husband and I decided to have lunch there this week on a beautiful autumn day, and then take a long walk down Forbidden Drive, along the Wissahickon Creek.

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The bridge was closed,

So we hiked down from the upper lot,

Taking the “scenic route” to the restaurant

Because I have no sense of direction.

Something you should know about me.

Hmmm. . .is this the right way?

Hmmm. . .is this the right way?

But it didn’t matter,

We were not in a hurry at all.

We were taking the day off.

We sat by the window

In that dining room

That always smells of wood smoke

From the fireplace at the end.

Lunch was delicious,

A portabella mushroom sandwich for me

With homemade sweet potato chips,

And an open-face Reuben for him

With house cut French fries

Two cups of coffee each,

And then we were set to go.

I had brought a coat

Thinking it might be chilly,

But the weather was beautiful

And perfect for walking.

I wandered down to the water.

Sun and shadows played a chasing game there.

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We strolled down the path.

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The air smelled fresh and woody—

Not the dry crispness of winter

And not the swampy scent of summer either,

But

Something in between.

The day was bright and clear.

A chipmunk scampered away

Before I could get a picture.

He chirped loudly at us from

Beneath his leafy cover.

Amidst the roots.

We saw an older man walking his dog,

They looked like long-time companions,

Both a little gray and grizzled,

But still enjoying their time together.

A bare-chested man in red shorts ran determinedly

From the opposite direction.

An impressively fit mother

Jogged while pushing her babies

In one of those special strollers

Made for runners with children,

Exercise and childcare combined.

Another woman ambled down the path

While talking on her phone.

Couples meandered with their dogs.

There were a few bikers, too,

But no horses today,

And a childhood memory

Stirred in my mind—

Walking in the woods

With my grandfather and little sister.

He pulled us to the side of a path

As riders on horseback

Come thundering by.

It was thrilling

And a bit scary.

Like ghosts from the past,

And then I remember my brother

Telling me about the Headless Horseman,

A Revolutionary Era soldier

Who supposedly roamed the woods.

But all is peaceful here today,

The ghosts are only in my mind.

We continued our wandering.

We hiked down stone steps

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To the water.

I noticed a tree that

Looked like a skeleton to me.

We saw many trees that had fallen

Or stood at an angle.

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What tales those trees could tell!

Sunlight highlighted a pop of red

Against the gold and still-green branches

And reflected in the water below.

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Birds sang.

“It’s so beautiful,”

I said to my husband.

“Thank you for this day.”

And on the way home in the car

Well, actually to the movies

Because we didn’t want the day

To end,

We listened to Fresh Air,

Terry Gross interviewing

Two bird experts.

There’s a type of bird that can

Mimic almost any sound.

I wondered–

What if there was a bird

There in the woods

Who repeated my words?

What if he flew all over the earth

Saying,

“It’s so beautiful. Thank you for this day.”

***

Thoughts on walking along Forbidden Drive

Walktober 2015