The Details of Life

This morning as I watched Joey getting ready to drive off to school on his motorcycle, checking his gas gauge, adjusting his helmet and revving the engine, something in the sky caught my eye. I looked up and it was a small band of geese silently flying northwards in the soft air of morning.

My attention shifted back to Joey as he drove down our driveway and street, the exhaust from his bike trailing in the cold air. I said a quick little prayer for his safety as I have done every morning since he's taken to riding his motorcycle to school, and turned to head back inside to my grocery list and my day. 

As I turned to go, another something caught my eye and looking up skyward, another small flock of geese was flying across the sky, this time their honking filled the chilly softness of the day. 

It was as though they too were asking for Joey's safety on his journey to school.

I debated about running this morning, finally deciding to go ahead and dress for it. It'd be an easy quick three miles, then I could begin on my to-do list for the day. I layered up and bundled up, but when I reached for my asthma inhaler to take a couple quick pre-run puffs, I noticed it had run out; in fact, the prescription itself had run out and I wouldn't be able to get a refill until Monday morning when my doctor's office opened back up.

I went back and forth about what to do: to walk the dog instead or just to cop out and ride our indoor bike. I really wanted fresh air, so I woke up Langley, watched as she nosed open the door to the mud room where we keep her leash, hooked her up and set off down the hill. 

As we were walking, I noticed a red tailed hawk sitting high in a dead tree, his big white belly facing the early sunshine, feathers ruffled up to keep warm. Once again, something in the sky caught my eye, but this time instead of a flock of geese, it was a bald eagle, lazily flying eastward. It's hard to tell sometimes the difference between a bald eagle and a turkey buzzard's flight, but a friend of mine a few years ago told me that when turkey buzzards fly, their wings form a "V" and a bald eagle's wings are simply flat. I love that little trick because a lot of times I'll catch my breath thinking that it's an eagle I'm watching before I see that tell-tale "V" against the sky.

But this time the bird in question was most definitely a bald eagle, his big white head and his big white tail showing up perfectly against the brilliant blue of the sky. I stopped dead in my tracks as I always do when faced with such surprising beauty and grace and stared, asking Langley if she saw the bird, too. 

As I watched the eagle fly over my head and then slowly eastward, the thought crossed my mind that if I had been running, I would've missed him, having my face downwards watching where I was going. 

I wonder what else I've missed while running?

Walking Langley home Tuesday evening, just at sundown when the world is changing from oranges and reds to violets and blues, we heard two owls calling to each other in the woods. I stopped to try to spot them in the bare trees, but they kept throwing their voices, teasing me. I love hearing their soft calls on our late afternoon walks in the winter. I've only spotted them together once, but that was years ago before the trail we walk on now was ever built. One owl was on the roof of an old shed while his mate was on a telephone pole. As we walked by on the country road, we spooked the one on the shed, and we stopped walking as I watched the owl fly in the dwindling daylight. The owl's flight was silent and fast and cunning. The poor field mice would never have known what hit them when he was out hunting. The owl swooped into the nearby tree line and began calling out to his mate as we continued home that evening. 

Tuesday evening, we heard them again in the woods along the creek next to the trail that had  been built since that long ago evening walk. As we turned towards home, we saw one of those owls on top of a house, his great sharp ears pricked against the softly glowing sky. He watched us this time, his head swiveling around as we walked past, all three of us - - - Langley, the owl and myself - - -  never saying a word.

The light has grown softer this month, as though the world is apologizing for turning colder and bleaker. Light catches herself in the tall ornamental grasses along manicured lawns making me wish I'd brought my camera as Langley and I make our way down sidewalks and past neighborhood entrances. I leave my camera home for our walks, wanting to just observe the world and be alone with my thoughts, but there are mornings when I'd wish I had it with me to try and capture that light.

But then I think, it's not mine to capture. 

The light is there for everyone.

We just have to see it for ourselves.