As It Turns Out

An unexpected evening rain bends but does not quite break the heat, and when I awake in the morning, right at the cusp of first light, I follow the cats outside to stand for a minute in the heavy air. The day is coming on so fast I swear I can see it happening in real time, almost as if the light were accumulating like snow. The cows are gathered under their favorite apple tree; they’ve worn the ground bare around its base, and I wonder why they’ve chosen this tree from all the others that would have suited the purpose equally well. A place for shade. A rough trunk to scratch against. Maybe, just maybe, where they know to be found for scratches in the spots the tree can’t reach.

Busy. So busy. The days compressed and blurred together. The summer feeling suddenly short and all the possibilities it contains feeling suddenly much less possible. I’m reminded somehow of the bluejay I passed on a bike ride more than a month ago; it had been hit by a car, and was flopping frantically at the road’s shoulder, and I turned back, steeling myself to do what I thought right, but when I held the bird in my hands, it quieted, and I could see that nothing was broken. So I opened my palms and it flew. Perhaps it had merely been stunned, or perhaps it was one last desperate lurch before final collapse. Either way, it wasn’t done yet, there was life yet for it to live, and I rode on, grateful that I had not acted too quickly and knowing I’d long remember the way it settled into my palms.

Which, as it turns out, I have.