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December 16, 2017
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Nothing much happened here today…

TRR photo by Kristin Barron

September 14, 2016

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else…” So said Emily Dickinson, the eminent poet of microcosm and wonder.

I think of this as I sort through the laundry, sweep up the spilled cat litter and rearrange the yogurts stacked in the refrigerator. Two more days of summer vacation remain before the start of school which leaves us looking through a box of hand-me-down clothes, looking for a suitable blouse to match the skirt my daughter has picked out for the first day of school. We sort through the clothes. She French-braids her hair.

I wash out the bottles to go to recycling. I take some chicken legs out of the freezer to defrost. I smooth out the rumpled rug. The cat meows for me to open the door for her to go out... and that’s when the routine slips and spills over into the extraordinary as I walk out to meet the late summer’s day.

On my walk to the mailbox I am amazed by the drops of dew that glisten in the morning sun on the tall, feathery plumes of asparagus fern. The sunflowers, the tallest we have ever had, wave in the breeze. I look at the lacy lichens that grow on the rock wall. They stand out against the damp rocks like snowflakes swirling in a storm. From my porch I can see the morning mist lifting off the river in the valley.

I hear the late-summer cricket song that seems to murmur a foreboding code that says “Not long now…” I can hear the chant repeating if I listen closely. “Not long now, Not long now….” The summer is fading.

On the drive down to Hancock to take my daughter to volleyball practice we see a bear. It is a baby bear—so sleek, so black and so wild—that suddenly lopes across State Route 97 and disappears into the brush and goldenrod. My daughter tries to take a photo with her Ipod but misses the shot. But just seeing the bear is enough, I think.

Seeing a bear changes your day for the better, says my husband, John, and it is true. It is something like taking a swim on a hot day. It is an experience that can refresh and change your perspective. It invigorates you.

We see the blackberry bushes on the roadside. Ripe, jewel-like berries for the picking or for a tasty snack for the little bear we saw.

In town, we pass the McDonald’s restaurant and see a crow stalking about the drive-through. We laugh as it pecks at a discarded bag in the street, and then flies off with a French fry in its mouth.

It is so easy to take it all for granted. It is so easy to miss the extraordinary in the mundane and the beautiful, startling moments of life. You could say nothing much happened here today—but it would not be true.