WEEK FIFTY-ONE: BEING PREPARED

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I was walking up a steep road along the side of a lush green mountain. There was light fog and the road glistened from a sporadic drizzle.  The mountain dropped steeply to my left.  Peter was walking with me, but he had moved far ahead.  This was unusual because I have longer legs (as he often reminds me) and I generally have to adjust my stride to his.  But I had been distracted along the way by small bits of nature and had fallen behind.

A man came whizzing by on a riding lawnmower.  It was one of those you stand on, like a captain at the bow of a ship.  Too fast, I thought.  And too loud.  What was he doing up here anyway.  I turned and watched the man and mower fly down the wet road, then deftly turn the mower back around and begin to mow.  That should have been my first clue, I guess.  What was he mowing up here on this mountain?

I started to turn back around, suddenly needing to catch up to Peter.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a raccoon come over the edge of the road, from below, and I slowly backed away.  I’ve been afraid of raccoons since reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I was twelve.  Raccoons in the daytime are not normal.  There’s generally something wrong – specifically the possibility of rabies.

But that thought took only a split second as I realized the more significant danger to the immediate left of the raccoon.  A bear.  Not just any bear, though.  This bear was at last twelve feet tall, standing erect and still, and making eye contact with me.  I stopped backing away, remembering everything I’ve been told.  Make yourself big, make lots of noise, and don’t run.

So…there was a man on a mower below me and my husband walking away from me unawares, above, and neither of them could hear my yelling over the din of the mower.  Nor could the bear.  And when it came to making myself big, well, seriously?  A twelve-foot tall bear?

This was a dream, of course. But it stayed with me all morning.  Somewhere deep in my brain, a voice was telling me that it is pointless to prepare, because there is always something you could not have anticipated.

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WEEK FIFTY: AN AGING PEACH

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Its scent is magical, and elegant, and its flavor unique in all the world.  And I can think of no color in nature that rivals that of the peach, which has been at its picking peak over the past month here in The Peach State.

I selected just one peach from its display in our local grocery, and placed it carefully in my shopping cart.  It was firm, unblemished, glowing.  I brought it home and made a portrait of this specimen, to preserve its vitality.  Then it took up residence on my kitchen countertop where I admired it, at first, and then lost track of the time it had been there, as if it had some sort of permanence in my life.

And suddenly – seemingly overnight – it was changed, still lovely to look at, but having lost both its peachy glow and that fleeting vitality.  There would be no going back now.  The process would accelerate.   Soon all I would have is the memory, and the image.