Birds

Sometimes we all need some time alone and at other times that are the last thing we need. I believe it was Carl Sagan, during an interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, he roughly stated, in a world as beautiful as this it is hard to doubt the existence of a higher being. Conversely, it is a demon-haunted world where the laws of nature no longer apply. The ice caps break off and send polar bears artic surfing, storms without due notice wreak havoc on entire cities bringing them to their knees for days, weeks and even years on end. We eat animals like they are going out of style and in a way they are. A lone person with semi-automatic military weapons wipes out entire movie theatres of movie patrons because he cannot find a job. The warm weather is that much warmer, hurricanes that much stronger and the world still spins on the same axis the same distance from the sun as it did billions of years ago. The number billions does not even sound correct in this context. We used to argue whether human nature is good or bad. We all have our demons and we may choose how we decide to exercise them. However, there are certain sunbeams that reach this earth, and shine and sparkle just perfectly. It touches our sole. It ignites what is good in us as a human being. Yes sometimes in a world as beautiful as this, one can still refute the existence of a higher being. Sometimes these things just happen. These things happen completely at random as some fringe lunatics attribute global warming or violence in our society. I hope that something so stunningly beautiful touches us all in one’s lifetime.

Things happen in the course of weeks and days and most of it is clutter and much ado about nothing. Little tangents lead us nowhere. Seemingly, little things happen all the time. They will set off repercussions that will affect everything that comes after and there are little chance interactions that are epic and life altering. People and paths are interconnected. The little bit of fuel we all use today may alter weather patterns that we cannot fathom at the time. Alternatively, maybe it is happenstance. We are all little atoms that collide that form molecules and then life altering changes. However, for the most part most of what we do is trivial and random. It is religion of sorts. It is a religion where the end game is not the mission. Rather it is whom we affect along the way. 

A woodpecker sat idly in a long dead tree rapping repeatedly at bugs hidden deep within. The lone dead tree sat enveloped in grey as a single grey cloud pushed its’ way over the skyline.   Forest Park shook silently, almost undetectable, as Seth finished his run.   Forest Park simply does that. Forest Park is a large lush oasis in the west hills of Portland. Miles and miles of tranquil running trails highlight the park. When you are in the park it does not feel like you are in the middle of a bustling radiant city. One problem is that Forest Park sits on a potential earthquake fault and experts say it may have a major quake in the not so distant future. The people of Portland are as a whole pretty laid back. Earthquakes are the last thing on their minds. Today the earth shook ever so quietly. Seth did not seem to notice. The woodpecker however quietly abandoned the search for bugs.

The refrain in this song got to him today. Seth walked across the fire lane contemplating today’s run and he welcomed back a return to a constant enjoyable thing in his in his life. Seth enjoyed the solitary trail runs when rain trickled down the end of his nose and he felt like he became part of the earth. He felt almost complete again and almost eager to take on the world. It was a feeling of being semi drunk enabled by endorphins. The high is certainly addicting, the rush bordering on calm and a calm that borders on frenetic. It is hard to describe however when you have experienced it you do indeed know. He remembered uncomfortably that recently it has been a struggle to sneak in this oasis part of his day. Life had been a struggle life had been a bitch. Today’s run on an early winter day brought him to near serenity on what had been an already far too busy and unsettled autumn. Running simply did that to him. Nature also did that for him. . Seth’s constant never-ending frenetic search for serenity was a guiding constant in his life.

Today he completed practically nothing to his choosing. That is one thing about running as even if you accomplish nothing else at least you have completed a run. It calmed him to the core and the halo effect lasted well into the day. He certainly got everything done as he did on a normal day; it was a day that included the banal and somewhat comforting tasks of cleaning dirty dishes from the sink. He was a stickler for order in his life and he did not enjoy clutter. The dishes sat in the sink for the last 226 days since “she” had moved out. Well that is how it felt.In reality he did the dishes every day. In his mind he did not.

Regular activities such as this were glue tying one day to the next. It was something that he gravitated. It was something that did not require focus and he could usually get it done. To him there was certain finality in doing dishes and taking out the trash. For Seth, everything else was an ongoing project, with no beginning or end. He blamed his mal-content on her moving on it was merely a symptom of what was going on. It had to do with the general lack of direction his life.

Seth enjoyed his post workout buzz, as in earlier years, the post workout hum usually consisted of a few cold beers but at this point in his life, he was getting too old for that. In his mind, he had not aged at all. It was an argument he had with himself all the time. He had real things to do and real places to go. He always enjoyed the ride home from his runs in Forest Park. The St John’s Bridge off to the left glistened in the sunlight and he glimpsed Mt. St, Helens in the not so distant background. The nature and subtle beauty in the Pacific Northwest pleased him easily. People who did not live here could not comprehend the simple everyday beauty that somehow had become every day to him.  He approached the ever so majestic Fremont Bridge with a hint of optimism. Late fall sunny days like this with a subtle hint of winter approaching were simply spectacular. This afternoon’s run and the beauty of the day elevated his sense of awareness and somewhere in the back of his mind he admitted to himself, that he seemed to be snapping out of a his extended funk.

He arrived home to an empty sunlit house. Seth took a long hot shower that removed the grime on his legs from his trail run. Unfortunately, it also snapped him back into the real world. The shower felt luxuriously wonderful. Seth left out an extended contented groan and slowly sat back in his bed and enjoyed this sudden respite from his sudden need for change. It was an enigmatic struggle for him between the constant need for seeing and feeling things from a different point of view. These feelings conflicted with his need to get it right. Seth wavered in has steadfastness just as he always has.

He surprisingly nodded off into a deep, peaceful sleep. He was never great at taking naps so he was alarmed when he awoke suddenly because of a weird rapping noise that he reluctantly recognized coming from the front door. He stumbled down the steps and was surprised that daylight was fading. The sun reflected at sharp angles indicating that is was later in the day then planned. The stranger at the door he did not recognize.. He thought to himself, why not answer the door . He had no choice. The visitor was right behind the glass window ready to knock again. He opened the door slowly and said, “How can I help you?” in as cheerful a voice as he could muster. Strangers knocking at your door usually were not something that usually ends up well.

Standing on the front porch was a young woman with a cheerful cautious smile. She had a leash in her hand and as he slowly followed the line of the leash, it was obvious she had a dog on the leash. He worried to himself how exactly his dog of many years may have ventured out of the yard. He was sure that he had securely locked the gate. He did not recognize the leash she held in her hand. Does she walk around with a leash all the time? He glanced at the gate and nothing seemed amiss and he glanced back at the girl on the porch and she was heading back toward the street as his dog stood on the porch panting and obviously happy.

As she was walking away from him toward the busy street, he noticed she was wearing a long flowing dress that seemed too thin for this fall day. He was curious to know where she had come from and why. Without him saying a word, she turned and looked at him and said, “I am glad you have your dog back but I need to catch my bus.” Seth kind of in a daze responded with “Hey sorry about that my dog gets out often and I need to figure out how she got out but for now I am happy to have her back. Thank You Very much. It will not happen again.”

She stood on the porch fumbling with the Beagle’s nametag she had removed, so she could better read the well-worn inscription stamped on the tag. She responded through a half-smile.

“Well thank you so very much for such a simple kind gesture. Thank you so very much hmmm…what is your name please you never told me.”

“Seth it doesn’t matter” she chuckled as she ran to catch her bus.

She did not want to answer as she had a hard time with the truth. He did not need to know that she simply saw the dog escape from the yard. She knocked earlier, and nobody answered. Beetle had simply run into her. Beagles tend to follow their noses anyways. The neighbors a few doors down had also stopped, as they were somewhat familiar with Beetles antics. They seemed to be in high spirits and they appeared to be dog owners. They pointed back down the street to where Seth lived and quickly ran into the house and retrieved a leash. She simply borrowed Beetle for a few hours. It certainly was not her intention. She desired a little company for her walk. He did not need to know that she was lonely. What did she really care, she liked dogs and it was not her intention to be flirty in any way. It is one thing about life she truly cherished were chance random encounters with strangers. This felt a little forced to UNIX.

She liked late autumn and she liked that early winter seemed to be creeping into late autumn. It did disturb her that the weather seemed to make very little sense anymore. There was very little rhyme or reason to it and she admitted that it usually seemed to be warmer than she anticipated. Today winter seemed to be leaking into fall. A single snowflake hit the tip of her nose as she turned back toward the bus stop on 42nd. Then another one hit her on the cheek as she picked up an apple that seemed to have recently fallen off a tree. They were perfect apples with a slight bruise that must have happened when it fell on the dirt below. Another snowflake landed on the apple as she held it in her hand as a humming-bird hovered near.