It was dawn, but little light filtered through the gray clouds; Belle was merely a shadow on the other side of the French doors, a silhouette of a well-behaved puppy, sitting politely, patiently.
I couldn't see her eyes, but I knew she was watching me, silently begging for an early walk. I can't resist puppy dog eyes; I stepped outside and she became a wagging, wiggling mass of fur. Okay, I told her, you win.
By the time I threw on some clothes and grabbed my camera, the sun was stretching, but hadn't yet thrown back its cloud-blanket. The world was just waking, bathed in a gray light.
It was already warm. Normally we don't experience record-breaking highs until July, but this year summer is a high achiever, not messing around with moderation in any form.
Despite the heat, I've been waiting until the sun is above the horizon for our walks, knowing it might be my only chance to feel its warmth on my face all day, now that I spend most of my time inside, facing a computer.
But I had forgotten how spiritual the world is at dawn... the gray, the quiet, the way the colors of the wildflowers just pop... dawn just lends itself to introspection and prayer and wonder. I promised myself to head out early more often.
A huge spider caught my eye, tending to its web strung high between two trees. I wished I'd grabbed my zoom lens...
Any time you walk in these woods, you have to keep an eye out for spiders and their webs... they stay busy tatting them across every path. We learned to carry a stick in front of us - otherwise you get a mouthful of web and the possibility of an angry spider in your hair. UGH!
I think the spiders are catching on, though - I've noticed most of the webs are strung high across the paths now, out of danger from our sticks. Guess they got tired of re-building every night.
A little later, the dogs startled a giant blue heron from one of the ponds - he flew behind the trees before I could get a good picture of him. Then he surprised me by circling back and I still didn't get a good picture. He flew on down the hollow, but later we startled him again and I finally got his whole body in one frame, although it's still not a very good portrait. He just wouldn't cooperate with me.
I'm not sure how or why, but on my morning walks, time stands still... or at least I'm able to believe it is. I stroll along praying, thinking, snapping dozens of pictures, laughing at the dogs like I have nowhere to go and nothing else to do all day. It's just so easy to lose track of the minutes, to get caught up with trying to track a blue heron down the creek bed or to capture the abstract beauty of morning dew on my camera.
Once back at the house, life resumes it's normal frantic pace, every minute over-booked. But the memory of that half hour of fresh air and surprises, of unhurried, unplanned footsteps strengthens me for whatever the day holds in store.
Saturdays at home are different. Today it was midafternoon before Tom and I headed down to the pond for a walk with the dogs. We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, but even in the shade it felt like a sauna down by the little pond. Determined to get a picture of the minnows, sweat was dripping down my back and soaking my head before I realized it. But I got the picture...
As Saturdays at home usually do, this one has gotten away from me. It's the first weekend in two months that we've had No Plans and I've just drifted through the day, content with whittling away at piles of laundry, uploading and editing photographs (as you can tell) and not much more. I have lists of things I hoped to accomplish, but there's always tomorrow, or Monday. Or next Saturday; it's another No Plans weekend, a huge relief because this past week was rough.
Not rough like the week before, with Frankie's death and heart monitors, thank goodness. On Wednesday my heart was thoroughly videoed and photographed via echocardiogram and the official report from all tests is: Normal. Not even any plaque build-up in the arteries, hallelujah, considering that potential genetic gift from my Dad.
(The doctor doesn't know for sure what caused my palpitations - it might be the only one I ever experience - but if I do have another one, I'm supposed to call and let them know... and they''ll do more testing, of course.)
No, emotionally, it was a much better week. I just got hit with a tidal wave of procrastinated to-do's. Even procrastinators have to give in eventually...
...so instead of working on my book Tuesday night when the Girl was in class, I spent an hour in the college lounge cutting out two months' worth of coupons. When her class was over, we headed to the grocery store armed with and extensive list and an envelope stuffed with the afore-mentioned coupons (I saved $20!) I would have put the trip off longer if I could, but our cupboards were more bare than Old Mother Hubbard's.
Once the groceries were put away, I started editing photographs of my friend's wedding so I could get them to her - it had been two weeks and she was understandably antsy to see them.
Good intention. Big mistake. I didn't get to bed until 1am. The next morning I was completely wiped out. Somehow I let "sleep" slip off of my priority list, but it's back again now in bold letters.
And that's one reason why I'm not making a dash to visit my dad tomorrow, although I'm torn about that decision even now. It's Father's Day, for goodness sake, and even though I saw him last Sunday, it just feels like I should spend time with him tomorrow, too.
But I also feel like I should be here with Tom. The boys can't be here this weekend, so I thought I should fill in for them in the morning, helping the Girl make him the traditional Father's Day breakfast.
Stay or go? Still torn...