September 24: As my friend Lee and I made our way over the marshes and ponds of Huntley Meadows, he suddenly whispered, “Listen.” A new bird call? A leaping fish or the splash of a snapping turtle sliding from its log? Cricket song or the crisp susurration of the wind-blown treetops? “No,” he said, “listen to the bees.” Sure enough, under nature’s quiet commotion, I heard the steady hum of a thousand bees sipping nectar from a thousand autumn blooms. They provided a surprising base note to the marsh’s tapestry of sound.
September 25: Overheard at Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience, a new exhibit at the National Museum of African American History & Culture: A seven-year old gestured to the art work on the walls and asked her sister: “Are all these painted by Black people?” Yes. The little girl exhaled. “Cool.”
The top painting is Wives of Sango, by Jeff Donaldson (1971). The second painting is Walking, by Charles Henry Alston (1958).
September 26: A parade of strollers ascended the hill past me, on their way to 10 am practice. I had already seen dozens of four-year olds clasping the hands of smiling parents and trotting in large colorful circles. In the park behind me, parents had made videos of their little ones, wrangled waiting siblings, and arranged rows of juice boxes. As the 9:30 am practice rolled to a close, the coach led a cheer. “Soccer!” all the parents yelled.
September 27: Here’s a flyer I almost posted today at our local coffee shop: “Sixty-two year old Mom seeks novice Dungeons & Dragons player (bards, clerics and paladins welcomed) to join her in adventures led by Dungeon Master Willem Wildhammer, her kind, funny and patient son.” I’ve now cast my 20-sided die, survived Ability Checks, outwitted goblins, and begun to ponder the name and backstory of my Halfling Rogue. Perhaps “Zephidaya Silverdance,”affable fugitive and thief.
September 28: High overhead, music drifted from a tree-brushed five-story apartment building. Perhaps someone was exercising on her balcony. Then I heard singing. I looked up: near the top of the building, eight window-washers dangled from their cords. Some up, some down, they were arrayed like the points and valleys of a picket fence. And all of them, it seemed, enjoyed the shade, the breeze and the song.
September 29: All week, my Google Maps cheerfully (and randomly) reminded me that the beach was just a few hours away. And so here I am, with a front row seat to the ocean. At midweek, no one rides the waves or plays in the foaming surf. I see no shell-gatherers, castle-builders or attentive moms. Nothing lies before me but the marbling waves as they crest and fall, one after another slanting with the wind. The horizon is jagged with swells and white caps. An orchestra of sandpipers scurries by, chased by their seagull conductor. The ocean doesn’t beckon today; it’s just showing off, like stage performers who invite you to sit back and marvel. I had forgotten my book. But who needs to read when such a magnificent spectacle unfolds before me?
September 29 Bonus: Today is National Coffee Day and the local radio station invited listeners to nominate coffee-themed songs. Here are the top five: (5) Stir It Up, by Patti LaBelle; (2) Tom’s Diner, by Suzanne Vega; (3) Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, by Wham! (2) You’re So Vain, by Carly Simon (I think it’s the “clouds in my coffee” line), and the number one song by Squeeze, Black Coffee in Bed. The radio station, which escorts me back and forth to the beach, boasts the delightful call-letters WAVE.
p.s. Suzanne Vega’s song, Tom’s Diner, records nothing more — and nothing less — than the art of noticing. And finding a story in everyday things.
September 30: During my walk down the beach, I saw an exuberantly attractive woman in a black midriff top, long black skirt and a black cape billowing behind her. A leopard print scarf wrapped her hair and enthusiastic gold jewelry caught the light. We greeted each other as we passed. Twenty minutes later, I saw her again, camera aloft, trying to capture her own vitality. I offered to take a few photos of her and she happily agreed. Ninety minutes later, our cars passed. I knew without question that it was the same woman: scarf and earrings and pendants twinkled in the setting sun.
September 30: Another sunset beckoned. I drove to a bayside channel favored by egrets, kayaks and, as it turns out, retirees. Four sets of us gathered to watch an enormous orange sun drop between clouds and carpet the water with its reflection. We talked about the careers we’d left behind and the adventures before us. We wondered what day of the week it was. In silence we watched the sun drop below the horizon and awaited the afterglow. We chatted a bit more and looked back toward the horizon. “No afterglow,” someone sighed. Someone else drew her finger around our impromptu circle. “I think this is our afterglow.”
Perhaps you’ll enjoy this comment from kind reader (and Singapore blogger) Ju-Lyn in response to my September 16 post — “I love that you braved the downpour for your coffee & reading time! Reminds me of one of my children’s favourite books: Amy Hest’s In the Rain with Baby Duck … with the right footwear, the puddles were great fun!” Ju-Lyn’s comment invites me to wonder: What is your favorite children’s book or poem about the rain? Mine is:
Rain, by Robert Louis Stevenson
The rain is falling all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
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