Father’s Day Deluge

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It’s difficult to mark Father’s Day when the man to whom fatherhood was the most fundamental adult role is no longer here.

My children and I have occupied different venues on such days, first venturing only across the state border for a short mountain hike, and the next year flying across the sea to Northern Ireland, where I remain certain that a heavenly prank was played on me in an effort to get me to smile.

Baby steps.

As predicted, today brought torrential rain, a doleful downpour so strong it woke me in the wee hours.

This time, I took a page from Jim and prepared for the Father’s Day deluge by actually consulting the weather predictions and setting out a day early.  True to form, I managed to get lost both on my way to my original destination and in the woods where I wandered for hours at my runner-up spot.

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On the bright side, being lost in the woods means being less self-conscious about engaging in animated conversation with the departed.

I rushed a picture of a waterfall, then paused and wove a path to a different angle: “You would have waited.  You would have gone up here and held still until the sun fell there.” Click.

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But eventually practical thoughts can intrude even while wandering among waterfalls on a glorious early summer day.

“I’ve done it again, Jim.  How do I get out of here?”

“Oh, I should follow the trail with the horse poop?  You’re right: the stable must be nearby….”

After a few hours I found my way out: there was indeed a stable.

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I had just a small request for Jim. “Could you send me just one songbird, or a butterfly–a moth would be fine.  I’d actually love a moth.”

I stepped out of the woods into bright sun and a path that led to stables.  To my right was a pond where a goose basked with his brood.  Something brushed by me and settled on the ground. Before taking off it paused several measures, slowly opening and closing its wings with the steadiness of a heartbeat.

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Double Rainbow

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Reflected Double-Rainbow Over Portsmouth (c) SMG

Sometimes the rainbow’s right there, its variegated hues blended and bowed overhead, utterly untouchable, while giving the illusion of being merely out of reach.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/Or what’s a heaven for?”

Not infrequently, a splash of rainbow appears, then quickly fades away.

More often, following a winter of endless waves of white, my daily rambles now take me past the bits and pieces of never-ending rainbows, there for the taking.

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An Off Season

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Such has been my mood lately that when asked to contemplate the concept of “off-season” I immediately pictured the Overlook Hotel’s unseasonably off-kilter winter caretaker.

Spring was a long time coming this year.

In port-side towns winter seeped into spring and was searingly still.  Well into April, wood pallets were strewn with ocean buoys, comically over-sized champagne corks, game pieces flung from a board by a frustrated Poseidon.

Vessels were cocooned in plastic and rose from still water.  Color photographs taken on gray days were rendered in black and white.

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The off-season’s soundtrack is muted.  Tourists are in warmer climates, and it is too cold even for dog walkers to be outside for long.  No bells clang from offshore when the inlets have frozen.

Walking alone I imagine animals curled into one another’s warmth in underground dens, breathing in, breathing out, until the sun beckons and glows summer gold again.

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Vida Vivid

June 2015 019I recently returned from a daughter’s commencement, which took place in a sea of vivid orange, rendered all the more retina-searingly indelible by juxtaposition with black. Flora conspired in the effect, fireworks of stamen and pistil bursting from coral blooms.

My little tiger.

The campus I rarely visit is the place I met my husband, and the memories at each turn are as sharply etched as the line between orange and black.

He did not live to see our daughter there; to know she would join his undergraduate department and spend a summer diving in emerald seas and studying with his thesis adviser; to watch her graduate with accolades her parents did not approach.

A newly-widowed wife wrote recently of her assurance that she will never feel pure joy again.  This caused me to pause a beat before agreeing.  Even a joyful event like a child’s graduation–and there now have been five such high school and college milestones without my children’s father–is tempered by and freighted with the absence.

What is not there can be as vivid as what one can see.

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