Today began early as pink skies lured me out of bed.
I brewed coffee and sat on the deck with a cup. Early morning light. Good hot bitter coffee. The day ahead.
I left the house for a long walk — the walk I describe in detail in my essay “Walking the Body-Mind” (Saltfront, Spring 2017). An old, old woman was walking up the hill toward me, unsteady on two trekking poles. It was my neighbor, the neighbor who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro just a few years ago. We stopped and talked and I learned she had had a bad relapse of an earlier inexplicable condition and was trying to walk her way back to health. I left her and revised the riddle of the Sphinx: what goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on four in the evening. And I saw my future.
Later in the walk I came across ten turkeys (the number a matter of fact rather than an excuse for alliteration). Ten wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), ten strutting rather than galloping turkeys. They cross the path in front of me and then drop into a copse of oakbrush, unhurried but appropriately wary. Ten heads peek over a little ridge, ten silver heads accented by triangular red flags under their chins. Bright black eyes, ten of them as they watch me from the side, note my passing.
A couple of days ago, at about the same place, a turkey hen crossed in front of me, followed closely by seven little turkeys about one-quarter her size (half the size of the little ones in this photo from a couple of years ago). A second hen is next in line, followed by three more little ones, all followed by a third hen. I approached where they had crossed the trail, thinking of the careful order, admiring the protective strategy . . . and at my feet one more little one breaks across the trail, an adventurous straggler.
Back home, showered, it was time to take our little cat Bella to the vet for a blood test to be sent to her dermatologist in Salt Lake. Yes, she has a dermatologist, without whose expertise Bella would have no fur. We know that by experience.
The vet’s office was bedlam. Every seat in the waiting room taken. Standing pet owners against every wall. Dogs and cats voicing their disquiet, their pain, their aggressions. After checking in, Bella and I find a corner. Time passes. A vet tech in bright orange follows a crying woman through a door, follows her through the waiting room and out to the parking lot, trying to explain something, trying to console the crying woman. Two men, obviously skinny father and skinny son, argue with the receptionist about a $90 bill while their undernourished, skinny-legged hound pisses on the floor and then squats to poop. The older man wears a shirt printed with pictures of the constitution and the statement, repeated 50 times: WE THE PEOPLE. The younger man wears a T-shirt that says DOES MY FLAG OFFEND YOU? CALL 1-800-LEAVE THE USA. $90! the older man says while his dog slips in its shit. For what? Should have never come here. The patriots leave. A woman with a mop and bucket cleans the floor. A vet-tech takes Bella for her blood test. He returns with her. I pay our bill: $89.90. We’re patriots too, I tell Bella. The woman still stands crying in the parking lot.
At home I write — the approximate biography of Zarko my task this week. I help Lyn re-pot a tall cactus. The afternoon stretches on. Bella throws up her dinner. We all three sit on the east deck and watch this evening’s clouds, patriots all.