Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Simple pleasures

Leading the flock after snagging a catch!
A trip into Seattle to drop off Reilly yesterday was all I needed to swing by Green Lake for a late morning walk.  Oh the sights!  Hark the sounds!

Allow me to list some highlights:
flocks of widgeons feeding
a splash and a dart as a merganser snagged a fish and gulped it down with lightning speed
a noisy belted kingfisher at the water's edge
a pair of coots rightside up and upside down 
a couple walking dogs who formed a perfect taut X with their crossed leashes
a great blue heron preening on a low-lying branch
a pair of young women with matching blonde ponytails flying, pushing a stroller and rocking out to their tunes
a dozen children from La Escuelita Bilingual Preschool walking in a row, chattering in both tongues
a pair of fluffy dogs wrestling with great abandon after meeting for the first time
a bald eagle taking off from the top of a towering redwood!
a man in hip waders searching for valuables with a metal detector in thigh deep water
a pair of mallards moseying across the paved path as if they had all day to get to the other side

None are remarkable as stand alones, but by the time I circled the lake I felt I had seen and heard it all.  I capped it off with lunch at the Sunlight Cafe.  

Lovely day indeed!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The joy of gifts

Dear Mom,  
Mimi and Andy's home, 2011, Andy's last Christmas.
Mimi was living at Brighton Gardens,
but her home still held her spirit.

Anyone who knew you well was aware of your full-on embrace of gift-giving at Christmas.  You had a knack for keeping one eye open for special gifts year' round and storing them until the holiday season arrived.  I remember one year, when I was 10, I decided to snoop and forage.  I found your stash and rifled through it all, imagining what was intended for whom in our little rambler on Brant Avenue.  It was a bad decision on my part, but that is not what I want to say to you today.

Let me ask you this.  Once the gifts were wrapped and placed under the tree, did you have a favorite?  Was there one you were most delighted about giving?  I suspect that may have been the case for you and one of the many things you passed along to me.  I surely found that as I grew into adulthood, I always had a favorite among the gifts I was giving.  Often it was one I had made by hand for one of my siblings or a dear friend.  

Last night as I was driving at dusk, a most splendid gift revealed itself!  You painted the sky with orange, pink and white, great swaths of color against the waning blue of day and the darker hues of approaching night.  The silhouette of the Olympic Mountains offset the blazing sky! Thank you!  I cried with the sure knowledge that you were at the easel, mother; that you had created this masterpiece and sent it my way.  What joy I had in receiving it!

Apparently, and true to form, you had more to offer: here is the sunrise that followed.

As I snapped this picture, I remembered a special time shared with you in December 2011.  Karen and her husband, Craig, drove to Columbia from Selinsgrove to visit us, a reunion that brought immense emotion for all of us.  When we came to Brighton Gardens to share her with you, you showed a sliver of happiness.  Then a most miraculous thing: your eyes lit up, you turned to Karen, and you formed these words: "I recall!"

Karen puts her final touch upon my mother's
long and blessed life.

  What a moment!  What a moment indeed!

That moment, Mom, is one of the greatest gifts we gave to one another: me, taking part in the reunion; you, reaching into your heart and brain and making a connection despite the grip that Alzheimer's had upon your life.

I relish in the memory.  And I give thanks for the unbreakable bond we share.

Merry Christmas!

Your Jenny