Farewells and Departures

It takes a lot to laugh.

It takes a train to cry.

                                                                                                         –Bob Dylan

I’m writing this from a New York City hotel room on W. 35th St.  Last night we stayed over in Saratoga to lessen the drudgery of driving into Albany and catching the train into Penn Station.  We had dinner in The Olde Bryan Inn.

It’s supposed to be haunted.  Two employees told me so.  I guess it must be true.

The morning before we drove to Saratoga, we said farewell to our good friends and neighbors, D’Arcy and Judy Havill.  You’ve read about them in my past blog posts.  They will leave Rainbow Lake in a few days and go home to their real home in Camp Dennison, just outside of Cincinnati.  They’re summer people on our road.

I was a bit misty eyed when we shook hands and said farewell.  It’s hard to find better neighbors in such an isolated area where we live…who have talents, skills and are like-minded.

We’ve hiked more than one trail with them and climbed more than one peak in and around Lake Placid.  D’Arcy is an avid bicyclist, and even though I’ve tried, I can’t keep up with him.  Judy is a genius at finding artwork and antiques for their home.

Their home just about a five minutes walk from our house.

Mariam and I will miss their company, movie night and the fine conversation after a grilled dinner.

Good-bye, you two…won’t see you until July.

Missing you already.

 

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Is This Really Happening?

JulyColorLeaves

It’s 5:01 pm on July 23.  Thirty-two days ago was the summer solstice.  It’s 64.9 F.

I’m standing on the back deck of our house at Rainbow Lake.  I’m chilled.  I have a thin blanket over my shoulders like a cheap superhero.  It’s one of those free “blanket” covers they give you on long distance flights.  (I didn’t take it without asking).  There is a cool breeze coming off the lake.  To my left, the leaves of the Aspen tree shake and flutter in the wind like each leaf is held to the branch by a gossamer thread, ready to break.

All around me I am seeing green.  I can see tiny slices of the lake water through the trees.  We’ve decided to not trim away the vegetation.  It’s cuts down on the view but is better for the ecology of the shoreline.

It’s July 23.

Seventy-two hours ago I was slowly walking down 5th Ave. in New York City.  The temperature was 95 F. and the humidity was at least 176%.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was just told I had a viral bronchitis thing going on.  Wrong place to be with a chest issue.  Ozone alerts were in the red.

My eye picks up something out of the ordinary in the mid-distance to the lake.  Something a mere four meters from where I stood on the deck.

I’m looking at a dozen or so maple leaves that have turned red.

Is this really happening?

I just put the snow shovel on a nail in the garage only several weeks ago.  I just swept away the spider webs from our kayaks and took them to the dock.  And yet, I’m looking at a harbinger of autumn.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love autumn.  I love the scarlets, yellows and reds…and the cool, bug free weather.  But…

It’s July 23.

I don’t even know where my swimming shorts are stored, but I never lost sight of my green fleece vest.  I’m not wearing it now.  It’s in the laundry after eleven months of constant wear.  I thought it was time for a wash.

Is this maple tree a genetic mutation?  Did lightning strike it while we were away?  Is someone playing sick joke on me?

I’m leaving the deck now and going back to my Rand McNally Atlas.  I’ll flip to Florida.  I’ll put my finger on Fort Meyer.  I’ll bet the maples haven’t begun to turn red there…yet.

After all, it’s July 23.

 

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve IV: “Do Ghosts Dream in Black and White?”

I broke away from the other kayakers.  They were intent on finding a trail that was obscured and hidden in a small cove.  It was supposed to begin on a tiny stretch of sand and among the blueberry bushes.  It led to a small body of water called Loon Pond (some called it Lost Pond).  I told the group that I had a sore ankle that needed some attention…and rest.  I wanted, for some unknown reason to avoid the woods on this day.  I dreaded the shadows and the patches of darkness among the trees.  I didn’t feel things were right for me about the short hike.  In reality, my ankle was fine…it was the deep tight pain in my left chest area that concerned me.  I wanted the sunshine, the sky, the clouds and the shoreline of green firs, pines and tamarack.  I also wanted to be alone and think.

SunOnRainbow

And my chest hurt.

So, I turned my boat around and paddled for a few minutes.  I had not taken my usual small lightweight kayak (the electric blue one with the white trim).  No, I chose an older Old Town that was bright red.  It had a larger cockpit so I could put my knees up and stretch a little more.  I pushed forward and put my feet on the deck, resting on the PFD that I kept under the bungee cords in front of the cockpit.  I put my head back.  I watched the scattered cumulus clouds drift slowly beneath a deep blue sky.  A slight breeze blew at my back.  I took out my book but was unable to read two lines.  Back into the nylon bag it went.  I pulled my raspberry hat over my eyes and closed them.  The boat gently rocked in the small waves.  The breeze was causing me to drift in the general direction of our home.  No other boats were on this part of Rainbow Lake.

I began to drift to sleep.  My chest made a slight twitch.  A small muscle went tight beneath my sternum.

I began to have a strange dream.  I was alone.  The blue sky was bleeding white like a rain shower falling on a watercolor painting.  All the colors ran.

My body jerked me awake.  I kept my eyes closed for fear of the sun’s glare.  With the heels of my hands, I rubbed my itchy eyes.  I opened them.

My first thought was…I had no thoughts.  I looked around.  Nothing was the same as it was before.  There was no color.  My world was black and white.

I felt my pulse.  There was nothing.

It’s amazing that I didn’t panic…because panic was what I always felt one would feel when one realized they were dead.

I felt no panic.  I just felt dead.  Then I knew that without life, there is no “world as we know it.” There was no color.

So, now what?  I waited.  Something was supposed to happen to me now, but I didn’t know what or when it would happen.  My thoughts began small: Is this the way that all the departed experience what is left of the world? There were no hues, no tints, no reds of passion and love, no white of innocence and purity, no green of life and promise, no blue of depression and loneliness, no gray of nuance and subtlety, no scarlet of lust and sin, no amber of forgotten photographs or letters written when youthful fingers pushed the pens.

RainbowNoir

There was nothing but growing blackness and fading light.  Stark reality.  Basic emotions.  The lack of life’s spark that once I lived, loved and danced to.

I drifted and I pondered.  I became convinced that I was truly dead and that my vision of the world reflected the lost palette of life’s interests.  What was the purpose of color to me now?  Color only evokes emotions or emotions evoke colors…I guess it works both ways.  A musical chord can make you cry.  A particular painting can make you pray.  The sounds of certain words can bring you to your knees.

I had nearly given myself over to my inert fate when a spark of a thought began in my brain or my heart or my soul.

What about my grandson?  He surely loves me and cares about me.  What of my daughter and son?  They surely love me and worry about me?  My wife must love me…for all the mistakes I’ve made.  My brother must love and care about me.  What of my family and friends?  They must think of me with affection.  What of the lovers of years ago?  Perhaps one remembers my name, thinks about me, cares about me and even still loves me…in their own way.

These thoughts drifted into my conscience.  Then something happened.  Like a watercolor artist working in slow motion, the sky began to turn pale blue.  The lake water became a deeper blue.  The forest trees were green again.  The late summer wildflowers turned pink, lavender and yellow.

It was a bright sunny day again.  I looked at my watch.  Only a few minutes had passed.

But I knew I was alive.

And, then you’re alive, truly alive and fully alive…you see the world in a whole new spectrum of tints and hues.

It’s a circle.  Life is emotion.  Emotion is color…and color is life.