Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Flashing Cursor and Poised Hands


     I recently ordered a book I remembered reading as a teenager. Lionors: King Arthur's Uncrowned Queen by Barbara Ferry Johnson, tells the tale of King Arthur's truest love. There is a poem at the end of the book which I remembered. It came within two days, thanks to Amazon Prime. I have not reread it yet, but I recall a pond and an island on it where they played as children.



       We have a lovely pond on the Abbey Farm. I've spent some time there the last two afternoons; the weather sunny with a crisp chill in the breeze. It really is some of my favorite weather. I told Marie, who accompanied me one day, that we go on vacations to experience this. Though we only had an hour, I decided to make it a memorable one. I tried to be as fully present as I could. So I didn't have a week--couldn't I gain some benefit from an idyllic 60 minutes? I have decided that the answer is yes. I am convinced that living fully in the present, and having a grateful attitude are key to aging happily.



Marie, pencil in hand, I am sure


       I move furniture when I don't want to do dishes and laundry. I changed around the small room where I have my desk and a sofa. I put things up on the walls that have been put away for years. I even hung my saddle, and it smells so very good in there now. I look up at my meager-yet-meaningful ribbons, my bits, my polo mallets, a picture of me foxhunting...I can't do any of those things anymore. But instead of sadness, I have intensely beautiful memories and gratitude. I call it the sitting room now. Maybe I've watched and re-watched too many Downton Abbey episodes!

1987


1991




       Once again, trading the paper and pencil for the laptop--opened in the above photo--I will "peck" a few more pages of Renata:


...Momentary coughing did not stop the children from trying to bowl Ernesto over. He laughed hard, making false-protestations. When they were satisfied, all walked up the path to the front door of the house, the children like jumpy puppy dogs surrounding Ernesto. Passing under the large maple tree, Ernesto tousled one boy's hair as he gazed up. He played in those branches when he was younger. Perhaps he got used to heights that way.

       The door swung open and his mother appeared. Strikingly blond and tan, the fifty-year-old looked a decade younger than her age.
        "Hey, Sweetie, you're home!" She gave him a hug and allowed the troops to pass. "Good day?"
        "Yeah, Mom. But these little ones almost knocked me down!"
          She laughed, "They are getting bigger. James will be by later to pick them up."
          A little strawberry-blond girl ran into the hall where Linda and Ernesto were,
        "Uncle Ernie! Grammy's making tooky-dough--Come on!"
         Ernesto ran after her into the kitchen, animatedly. "Tooky-Dough!!"

***
       Claire's apartment door swung open and she almost trotted in. She threw her keys down onto a table in the hall and walked past her packed suitcase and skis. A short distance to the kitchen, she opened the door of the refrigerator and pulled out a can of pop. Tilting back, she drank down half of the Diet Dr. Pepper, wiped her mouth and put it down. Her shoulders relaxed. Vacation time.

       She tapped the button on the answering machine; she kept her landline. No messages. Sighing peacefully she picked up her boarding pass.

***
       Ernesto was on the road. An hour before, chocolate chip tooky in hand, he'd jumped into his El Camino. Karl talked him into going to the Lake of the Ozarks. Ernesto wasn't big on four-wheeling, but his buddies from high school got together every year. Sometimes a poker weekend, sometimes the coast. This time it was to Cameron's family's place on the lake. A bunch of the guys were trailering ATVs.

       Cam was just married last year. Karl had taken Broadway by storm and was taking time off for med school, and for this weekend to be with buds. Jeb was in a famous contemporary Christian band, and Joe was a decorated war hero: Congressional medal of honor for leading a whole town to safety in the night under enemy fire. Whenever they got together it was like old times. 

       Despite a dislike for four-wheeling, Ernesto felt he had to go. Two SUVs were full of food, guitars and drums, their trailers loaded with four ATVs and Karl's "new" Odyssey 350 four-wheeler.

***
       Claire descended into Denver and a few hours later pulled into Breckenridge in a rental car. She decided that the Colorado Rockies should be on everyone's bucket list. The hundred foot pines were deliciously iced with snow. There was no real wind, but the whispery silence of the slopes gave way to occasional hoots of skiers shushing through the snow. She got chills. Not from the cold, but from excitement.

       And then minutes later, she was shushing, herself. Bev met her at the lodge, they dropped off her bags quick enough to change and here she was, pony tail flying, skis pounding the moguls. Man, she thought, I need to hit the gym more, my knees and thighs are burning! But she was on a mental high. Despite exhaustion on difficult trails, she'd round a corner and the adrenaline would hit with the sight of another steep run.




       Claire had grown up with Bev on the East Coast. Bev was getting a PhD in Geology at Boulder and this was Claire's second time visiting. When they were teens they skied many small local mountains like White Tail and Wisp, and made occasional trips to Vermont or New Hampshire. All of Bev's family were near-expert skiers. In truth, Claire barely kept up with Bev. It was thrilling to follow her. 
   
       Somehow, she'd managed to pass Bev, who'd stopped earlier to help someone find a dropped ski. She came up to an opening that seemed to reach right out into the blue sky. An abrupt halt brought her in view of a sign: "Double Black Diamond: Black Hawk to Trinity." At that moment a blue streak whizzed past her and as it dropped down the slope with barely a pause, she realized it was Bev. 

       "Game on!" She yelled, a challenge to herself, because certainly Bev couldn't hear her now. Claire popped off the edge to about a ten foot drop, slicing neatly into the snow below. She was after Bev.





      Thank you for reading! Until next time--

1996

        
   

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