verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Monday, February 21, 2011

Conch Chowder

So, this is really incredible.

I heard an odd tapping on my email door the other day and when I opened it to see who was there, everything went silent.  His name was right there in the text, clear as day.  What followed were such distant and familiar words from long, long ago...and for what seemed like a 51 year gasp, I was utterly speechless.  I still am.

We were both born on Key West at the naval base and just days apart. They call us Conchs.  He is the only conch I know.  Instant kinship. Eternal bond. Our families moved often, going in many different directions over many years. It was to become a way of life for both families and we became each other's roots, in a way. From Florida to California to Indiana to Newport to New York to Connecticut to North Carolina to the somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we managed to pack and unpack, many times and in many ways.  Our families kept track of each other over time and geography, and in between the moving vans and baby births, reunions took place when possible.

I remember the anticipation of their visits.  A year or two or three might have gone by since the last visit and I would be both nervous and excited.  His mother had a great laugh.  His father, a warm smile. There seemed to be so many sisters!  Avery and I handed down our matching Polly Flinders dresses, which would appear in our family Christmas card one year and then in theirs the next.  Our parents would sit together and roar, laughing.  All of us enjoyed taking advantage of the fact our parents weren't paying very close attention and we would play so freely.  I remember the sense of fun we had. I remember the constancy his family provided, even in the years we didn't see them.

My last visit with M was over 35 years ago.  The mothers say we went in to town together and that I was wearing hoop earrings. Our parents have kept the thread going between themselves, but M and I each travelled to other places as we made our own lives and fell out of touch.  Over the years, I have found myself rolling his name around in my head because hearing it would evoke fond memories and familiarity. He takes me back to deepest roots.

I look forward to hearing more of his travels and life.  This reunion is the sweetest one of the last fifty-one years.  He is a true life-time friend and my one and only Key West Conch.

To M...I have a conch shell under the snow in my garden.  Always close.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Be Leaving

This was worth the trudge.  Actually, it's all worth the trudge.  Winter has been magnificent.  Truly. Not a single day has been a disappointment.  From spectacular snow falls to boldly blue skies to paralyzing wind chills, each day is a work of art in this winter gallery.  I marvel at the silent collaboration of sky and earth--each day stunning and brilliant.  I unintentionally stopped watching the weather forecasts and no longer dread stepping out--perhaps an unintentional side effect. Endurance--a former companion--has given way to curiosity and I have come to love winter's tide as I love the ocean's.  Recently, we had warm sun and melting snows and while walking, I was surprised to feel a pang of sadness. These snowy snows and icy drifts would soon be leaving. 

Along the way, I found these pussy willows bowing over a deep gully and I felt an inner rush of excitement and anticipation.   

Springing from winter, and believing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lip Smacked

I went to have breakfast with Reilly this morning.  Her exuberance is contagious, even at the wee hour of 6am.  I stayed awhile to watch the night melt to morning and feel my buzzy coffee to do its buzzy magic.  From where I stood with my cup, it was a dark 6am.  From where Reilly was hip-hopping around the kitchen, it was a bright Right Now O'clock.  I couldn't help but laugh at her playful antics.  Reilly welcomes each day as the one she's been anticipating forever.  With a perpetual smile, she dances atop time.

Out to the back we wandered, a land of deep virgin snow and rolling drifts.  Reilly rode the crests of snow caps like a skilled surfer while I sank very deep with every step.  We listened awhile.  Water was running...the promising sound of winter burbling into the earth, draining away the layers of white and cold. Above us, the sun arrived just as the snow moon vanished below the sky.  Today is the kind of day that signals the receding edge of winter towards the horizon.  It also hints at spring's arrival, and for a brief day the two converge in their own whimsical dance.  We played until we were tired and then with great satisfaction, we lip-smacked the deliciousness of the day's cool warmth.

As I was heading out into the rest of my day, I found Next Door Penny on the front stoop, waiting for her daily biscuit, a ritual established here long ago.  As I turned back to say good bye, she too licked her lips and did her own little wag.  We had kissed the winter morning, and it was kissing us back.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Clover

Meet Clover, the Valentine fashionista. She found us along the trail today and shared a good romp with Mercy.  We were instantly smitten with her friendly nature, her heart-speckled bandana and all-around good looks.  She shared her stick with Mercy who, though very stick savvy, shows no signs of fashion sense. We had a lovely visit.  Hugs and kisses were exchanged.

Clover is the new black, by the way.  I'm sure of it.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trade Off

This is so Artemis and Biscuit.  As you can see, they wanted to head in opposite directions yesterday.  Or maybe it was something else. I can't really know for sure. I am their tie breaker during moments like these. They have an understanding all their own.  She's the task master and he's the clown.  She leaves him a bite or two of kibble in her bowl and he bats clean up. She runs fast, but he makes her wait as he shuffles forward. Together they have mastered The Art of the Trade Off and all kinds of silent deals are made that both amuse and mystify me.

Biscuit is getting on.  At seventeen, he's a very old, sweet soul.  He has kept on his faithful trudge, even through this remarkable winter.  He can't hear us and occasionally when he's off-lead, he veers off in another direction as if we aren't there.  Or maybe he can hear us...I can't really know for sure. Our most recent walks have been challenging--he wants to go even while his body objects.  The last couple have made this particularly evident. It's hard to know what to do. There is no tie breaker here.

His owner spoke with me after this walk.  He asked me what I thought.  Please, no, please....It was the kind of exchange that never leaves you.  Brief, understated, eyes averted, dread. We agreed to not know for another day.  Our silent deal--perhaps our attempt at Tradeoff.  I can't really know for sure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Dozer

We walked an old route this morning--we hadn't been here since the fall.  The snow is so deep now and my heart sank a bit when I saw that no one had forged a trail to the old orchard where I had hoped to go.  I knew it would be really hard for us to get there since Mercy's legs are still short-ish, as are mine.  We did our best to cooperate with the conditions, first climbing over a 6-foot high bank, and then attempting weightlessness as we moved over crusty snow.  A few times--ok, most of the time--I broke through the crust and sank hip-deep into the snow.  The first time it happened I thought I might be stuck there forever.  Mercy summed my situation up as best a puppy could and seemed to arrive at the same conclusion.  Admittedly, it was an absurd way to be hiking but absurdity seems to be the rolling theme of this winter's Tour de Snow.

Nevertheless, we inched onward.  I could see something way out in the middle of the field, but it was still too far away for me to identify.  I had to know--I felt the challenge.  We worked up quite a sweat getting there. As we inched closer, the insanity of this quest took a back seat to my curiosity and excitement.  It was worth the effort to find out what this thing was.  Or so I hoped.

At last, we were close enough to solve the mystery.  Worth it, it was. I had to laugh.  Yes indeed--a plow.  A stuck plow! This little plow seemed to be staring down winter with all earnestness.  Effective? no.  Determined? yes.  I admired its stance.

We turned to head home.  The main road seemed days away.  Oh, it'll be easy, I told Mercy.  Mercy rolled her eyes.  We began our long, slow journey back across the field. I sank up to my hips again and again. Effective?  No.  Determined?  Yes.  Absurd?  Absolutely.