You know, I don’t usually post here two days in a row, but something occurred early this morning that triggered a set of memories and made me want to write. The memories are not about Georg, but about me. The trigger that began the chain was this:
I was walking the dog very early this morning while it was still dark and all the snow was an endless stream of diamonds in the street lamp light. There were teeny tiny diamonds falling from the sky, and diamonds peaking up out of every inch of snow on the ground. All was quiet on the western front of Lake Michigan. I looked ahead of me and I saw what appeared to be a rather large black stick standing straight up in the middle of the sidewalk about 100 feet away. No sooner had the thought, What the hell is that? entered my head than the bunny got wind of me and the dog and darted away into someone’s side yard.
Seeing the stick magically turn into a bunny reminded me of the morning last summer, when I was walking with my head down (without the dog) on the very same stretch of sidewalk and I looked up to see a doe about 15 feet away, walking right toward me. I bid her good morning and side-stepped out into the street so she could continue her morning stroll in peace on the safety of the pedestrian walkway, seeing as how she was a pedestrian and all. By virtue of her four peds to my two, I figured she was entitled to the right of way.
Then, remembering the steadfast doe reminded me of one other animal encounter long, long ago. The year was 1995 and I had just started a new job at the Getty Museum, back when the Getty was only located at the Villa in Malibu, before the building of the Frank Gehry-designed castle on the hill overlooking all of Los Angeles. My new office was in a cute little cottage at the back end of the property where myself and three other staff people were designing interpretive materials for what would soon be the new museum. One night, I was working late and I left the cottage about 8 p.m. I got in my car and started to head out on the hilly road that led off the campus. We’ll call it a campus. I learned a lot there that first year: things like how to be a manager, how to work with seemingly contemptuous people, how to plan ahead for something really big. Things like that.
Anyway, as I headed away from my office at a mere 20 miles an hour along a windy, hilly road I suddenly slammed on my brakes. My headlights had illuminated a most unusual sight. Right in the middle of the road, an owl was sitting. Right there. Smack dab. Middle of road. The owl was HUGE. I mean, I could be exaggerating, but my memory is that the owl was about three feet tall. We just sat there, me in a metal box with big lights shining, and the owl in its feathered finery. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t too excited about getting out of the car to shush away a giant avian creature from my path.
But, fortunately, I did not have to do any shushing. All at once, the owl was airborne, and it flew right over the top of my car. I could actually hear the sound of big wings: thunk thunk thunking above me as the owl lofted up and flew away to some unknown corner of the woods. The experience was breathtaking. I took it as a sign that I was being blessed and that my new job would go well. In retrospect, it did. I had some rough moments, but overall, it was a great job. And when I left that job, it was to come out here to Wisconsin where my life has taken all manner of interesting and challenging turns. We’ll get to more of those in future posts eventually, I’m sure.
When I met the owl that night, his message seemed clear to me: take wing, soar! Last summer, the doe was telling me to tread lightly, stay calm. This morning, the bunny seemed to be saying: Leap! Be nimble! Be joyful. Fret not. All is well.
That is what I am imagining, anyway.
And now that I am nearly done writing this post, I remember that just about five nights ago, I was driving down the hill toward the lake and a fox darted across the road right in front of my car and ran into the trees. Its eyes were like two bullets of light. I am so glad I did not mow it down. I hope it went home to a nice warm den somewhere inside the trees. I don’t know what the fox was telling me and I can’t find a picture of a fox running across a road by a lake at night, so I will let you imagine what it looked like. What does the fox say?
Hang onto the mystery?
No one knows for sure. Hey, I wasn’t going to include this, but it has made me smile many times over the last couple months since Georg died. He would have liked it.