Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Swag Bag

Before I even got out bed this morning, Soul had hopped up on top of the covers, bouncing around, "Can we go for a walk today?  You don't have class and there's no rain!  Can we, can we?"

I ignored it and headed for the coffee.  I'd been up late the night before finishing a short paper and have a Big Mondo Paper to finish by next week.

I sat down with my laptop, coffee, and lowcarb bagel and began checking emails, reading the headlines, and trying to wake up.  Kissed children, kissed husband.  House to myself.

A cold nose poked at my knee.  Soul had its leash in its mouth and wagged its tail hopefully.

"No," I told it.  "I need to feel bad about myself for a while."

Soul sat on its haunches and cocked an ear, confused.

I have something to go to tonight, a story for another time.  It's a function that has come about because someone loves me, but it's ... well, it's an outfit that doesn't fit.  I've been fairly comfortable in the identity I've carved out for myself, and suddenly, I feel like Pretty Woman at the polo match, a cover I didn't want, blown.  "I say who!  I say when!   I say who ..."

(LE wishes to clarify that she is not turning tricks.)

Soul began alternately whining and barking.  "Now, stop!  Timmie is not in the well!"

Soul didn't stop, so with a sigh, I pulled on shoes, grabbed phone, and headed out.

I got down to the pond where the air was surprisingly cool.  Aaaah.  Turned on some new songs that friends had recommended and walked, Soul happily trotting beside me.  Lost in my own thoughts, I was suddenly startled when the grass in front of me moved.

Aaa!  A turtle!  Quick, get the camera!  I fumbled with my iPhone hurriedly, then laughed at myself.

It's a turtle.  What's it going to do, dart away?

He didn't seem to mind posing for pictures, though I thought it best to not ask for his autograph.  I couldn't help but interpret it as a reminder to  just be myself.  The turtle is a turtle.  He doesn't dart off into the bushes, he just gets where he's going in his own sweet time.  I doubt he feels bad that he's not doing this or that.  He's a turtle.  And God Bless Him for being that.  A world with no turtles -- perish the thought!

A smile on my face, I stepped along.  Responding to my uplift in spirits, Soul quickened its pace, straining a bit on the leash.  No one was around.  I bent down and disconnected the leash.  Soul streaked up the path and back, giddy with pleasure.  We went over a little bridge and there she was, right in front of us.

Oh! I said, drawing in my breath.  Two gifts in a row, just like that.  Now I felt giddy.  A surprise party?  For me?

I ventured a little closer, marveling at the unexpected.  A cardinal or a sparrow here and there is normal.  An egret is not. 

I ventured a little too close and she flew away, giving me a last enjoyable look as she stretched her wings and skimmed the pond.


Soul danced in front of me now, twirling and twirling, her pink skirt floating around her, her plastic tiara tilted over her forehead.  She hummed softly under her breath, dancing to a song only she heard.

We walked on, blissful. And ignorant that I'd left the camera on.

This is my new friend, Stripey.
 Stripey is also my new hero.

See how Stripey is in the sand?

The sand made hills and valleys.  Stripey would inch along ... not even an inch, then the sand would cause her to roll on her back.  She'd right herself, then inch along another millimeter.  Over, she'd go.

I fear that I would have just given up, lain there on my back, looking up at the sky and cursing the forces that gave me a million legs but no rigid spine.

Not Stripey.  She just kept on going.

Soul and I walked, around and around, pausing now and then to look into the water.  I saw Turtle's cousin, swimming in the shallow end.  I saw a fish splashing after a minnow.  I found little surprises everywhere.

I looked at the time.  It had been an hour.  It's time to go, I told Soul, reluctantly.  Soul was fine with that and trotted along, satisfied.

I walked back the way I'd came, lost in thoughts and imaginary conversations with those who will be called to judge me.  I turned a corner and WOW WOW WOW.

A giant, regal, great blue heron and I startled each other.  We stared at each other for just a second, then it flew off across the pond.

Iphone cameras don't zoom.  Here, I'll point to it.

An embarrassment of riches.  I looked up and hollered, "Thank you!"

I have already been promised a swag bag at the event I go to tonight.  Oh, I've already received one.

Soul walked alongside me, humming softly, but giving me a smug grin.  Yeah, yeah.  You were right.

We walked back.  Filled and fulfilled.

And forgetting to turn off the camera again.

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