On the eve of the first day of summer I took a walk with my dog Leo. I’m not the dog walker in the family even though I should be (Leo was my idea), but I needed to get some head space and so I drove over to Turner’s Pond. Leo is getting on in years and twice around the pond seems too much for his short legs. We decided to give it the ole college try.
I edged around the first bend full of maples and oaks to a clearing. Cumulous clouds were bursting forth like cotton candy at a county fair. My mother used to tell me and my sister that when the sky turns bright pink the angels were busy baking cookies. This always made me happy as a child.
It still does.
This sky was pretty enough to take a picture. Alas, I had purposely left my phone in the car and was now feeling a twinge of regret. With a new mission in mind to get it I picked up my pace, while eyeing the ever changing hues. Please stay still.
I raced by a family. They were rather striking for their stature and number. Two parents and four boys of various ages. The older boy was close to being a teenager and the youngest, about 4, was on his red bike and mightily leading the pack. They could be from some Scandinavian country, I thought.
My four-legged companion was petering out. I decided to give Leo an out and let him sit in the car. I took the second lap around rather briskly with my cell phone in hand. Could I catch the sky’s dusty rose hue?
It was too late.
Why do we need to document such moments anyway, I chided myself. I slowed down and welcomed the breeze. Breathe in. Breathe out. My mind was flitting back and forth from appreciating the pond life to being lost in memory.
I observed something else that warmed my heart as much as my mother’s words about cherubs and a craving for warm cookies. I came upon a young couple who had set up portable hammocks among the birch trees just over the water’s edge. They were facing each other and quite animated in conversation. They paid no mind to the nocturnal insects, to the bellows of bullfrogs, or to my presence.
Hammocks. That took some planning. I felt soothed by the waning sounds of their voices.
I finally came to the opening at the far end of the pond where the geese and duck circle each other and a random dog inevitably chases them off. It happens every visit. This time two lumbering white retrievers had their fun. The owner and I exchanged a laugh. Poor Leo. He missed it.
And I missed my chance for the photo op. They sky quickly paled in the twilight. I headed back and came across the Viking family again. This time the mother, father, and the two older boys were tightly nestled on a short bench. Shoulder to shoulder. They barely fit. The littlest one poked a stick in the pond and the other child was skipping a stone. Like the young couple, they were deep in conversation looking out over the water.
I could hear that they were American. I think this surprised me — to see a family all together at dinner time rather than dispersed at some sport field or immersed in technology. That this family was so intimate, and in nature no less, made me pause. I felt a bit voyeuristic.
They also gave me hope. I’m not sure for what. Maybe just that nature is always there to restore us. And if we can appreciate this gift, as the couple and this family seemed to, then maybe we can be good stewards of each other and our planet after all — no matter the color of the sky.
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(c) 2017 Tara Cousineau