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The Real Thing

The Real Thing

It struck me that I was looking out at a landscape that was in these moments completely un-tampered with. The scene was natural, pristine, real. How unusual to feast on something so genuine. A mist covered the trees and the lawn. A fog not yet lifted embraced everything, soothing and combining disparate surfaces and textures. The air was still, not a single leaf falling though today was the 10th of October. Then at last a lone one did, cascading gently and wavering as if reluctant to fall at all. So still the air, tall trees majestically standing with their vast network of leaves immobile as if waiting for a whisper from the sky to summon movement.

I thought about what else in my life was genuine and not a product of something else; something as pure, albeit far from simple, like those intricately complex trees which never would be completely knowable. My children, of course. The love between them and among us within the complexity of our lives. How fortunate, each of us, to share that love, as thick as this embracing early morning mist.

But how strange, I thought, aware there was no movement of animals to be seen inside this silent mist. The scurrying I saw every morning, chipmunks racing across the lawn quicker that I could draw a pencil line, squirrels in circular leaps with short stops sitting upright to split open and munch an acorn. No birds, not one, nor deer trotting from the woods to steal whatever flowers remained. Everything seemed to be waiting. Too still, too quiet, eerily so. Like a moment in time stopped, the clock no longer racing forward. Nothing in motion, neither forward nor spinning around.

I went inside the house. On the news I learned that Hurricane Michael had just struck the Florida Panhandle, the worst storm in its history. But no impending storm was predicted here. I put the eerie morning sights out of my mind and started my day, settling on the notion that the natural world in my backyard had engaged in a moment of silence for its kin.

In the afternoon, I stepped outside for a break. High above me, branches gently swayed, multi shades of green leaves glistened in the sun; a chipmunk crossed my path scratching itself even while it ran; a bird swooped so low it startled me; squirrels shopped and gathered high in the oaks; acorns fell, one hitting me squarely. Bald spaces on the lawn were clearly visible now as were puddles on the chairs and rust spots marring a table. Time was moving swiftly, dragging with it an imperfect world careening by: my intricately complex children and the puddles splashing at them and among them, my marring rust spots, the bald spaces that needed filling and maybe never would be. I reveled in it all.

Judith Peck, Ed.D.