Transitory Treasures of Memory

In our lives there are moments of great beauty that are so fragile, so transitory that to experience them is pure joy. To share them is to know the essence of living,” [Gwen James, in “Reconnecting”]

Playing with my dog in a lupine field at the farm when I was a child: My father planted lupine every year in spring, and I could hardly wait for the seeds to sprout and grow, sometimes up to 4 ft tall, with blue/purple flowers that look quite a bit like Texas bluebonnets. As a child I would run through fields of them with my dog close behind, then I’d jump a row aside and fall down to the ground, hidden, waiting for Trixie to find me. She would jump on top of me and begin to lick my face and throat. She was always so happy to have found me.   

A seasonal walk in the magnificent Smoky Mountains of Tennessee: The spendor of an autumn day entices us, Hubby and me, to ditch our car in a leaf stewn parking pullout to choose a far less-traveled footpath instead, through forest after forest of quaking Aspens. Sunshine slanted against white bark, flecks of azure sky peeked through golden leaves, and suddenly a small breeze began to stir. Leaves began to trickle down like gold and copper pennies from Heaven, falling into our hair, the backs of our collars, and onto our shoulders.

A late summer walk with my dog through a city park: I’m taking my dog (actually my daughter’s dog that I was “dogsitting” for a couple of years while she was out of the country) for a long walk through the city park when I noticed a random dragonfly brush past. As a child I had known them as “mosquito-hawks” but none I’d seen so far had ever sported the magnificent colors of those I was seeing now. Then I seemed to enter through an unseen door, inside a covey of them, all flying in tandem like tiny helicopters of turquoise and tans, with varying shades of green and blue. “Take me to your leader,” I said. But they didn’t. Maybe next time,” they whispered, “when the dog’s not with you.

Enroute to the Artists Pallette in Death Valley, California: The drive winds through foothills of sedimentary and volcanic rocks on narrow, curvaceous roads. We’ve been told not to miss this spectacle after the splendidlly wet winter just passed, that promised special displays of flowered desert spendor. Our car, a big blue chevy lumina passenger van with its pointed hood, nosed along the lonely, quiet drive, slicing through windy spring weather common in deserts, while we sat inside tall and protected. We drove along, the three of us, Hubby and myself in the driver and passengers seat in front, the dog, Kelly, sitting upright behind as if she were human, looking straight ahead. Suddenly, we’re winding our way through throngs of red poppies that seem to wave shyly at us as we, the King and Queen and the furry Princess, ride through, surveying our desert kingdom.  

Driving through a covey of blackbirds on a country lane: I’m driving my young daughter home from school on a crisp fall day when I decided to take a shortcut through a small country lane that ambles alongside a fence through bogs and bumps, but where you’re almost assured of never seeing another car. I can see the road ahead is simply covered, literally, with blackbirds hovering around a wet bog in the road. My dilema is deciding whether to stop, honk at them, or simply to drive on and hope they’ll get out of the way before any get killed. I decided to slow down, practically to a crawl, because I expect them to rise up and fly away at the last possible moment. But instead of flying helter skelter as I imagined, they seemed to float upward, hovering around the windshield and side windows, above us and aside us, flying slowly along. In a flash, I felt we were being guided ahead by the blackbirds, because we could not see the road in front of us. Time seemed to hang suspended, with only the sound of blackbirds screaming the way. Just as suddenly, I look backwards through the rear-view mirror to see them flying away. I know that we won’t see them again until next year.

Alas, I was to learn that one person’s treasury of serendipitous moments may very well equal another’s “ho hum,” or “I don’t remember that at all.” A year or so back, I mentioned the last episode of the blackbirds to my now grown daughter. I asked her if she remembered it. She had a hard time even remembering the short cut we used to take. But sharing them now reminds me that I did live them. And as many times as I share them, I can live them once again.

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