Ash on the window sill, blood red sun rising above the treetops, blue overhead turned dirty, and
pervasive smoke: “Unhealthy air quality. Stay indoors.” Though altering for us, these conditions are far less oppressive than those being faced by the fire victims east and south of us: blessings for safety to you, dear wildfire sufferers!
Amidst this, a chore:
Up the long-hilled driveway, lugging large recycling and trash bins across cobbled gravel
A normal task turned breathing-rigorous in the smoky haze.
But, the blessings on just one driveway round trip (house to road) were plentiful:
A healthy hawk made a low flight over the dormant tan field.
The coyote “boy” sauntered into the back yard, licked his lips and jowls, and stood jauntily there.
The white crescent moon hovered like a morning prayer high in the western sky.
A small patch of blue opens in a corner of the northern firmament: a tear-away in the blanket of thick gray “ash-mosphere.”
White butterflies (reminding me of the esteemed yet personable Robert Michael Pyle) dance around my head (as I reached out my hand to stroke or offer a perch).
One especially long banana slug seems out of place in today’s dust-drenched gravel.
Lavender blossom lingerers whose lengths I caress each time I pass, entice me again and again to offer my scent-infused palm to my nose.
Small geographies of yellowing leaves punctuate the landscape of maple and alder canopies.
Fat soft bees, just a few remaining as summer’s floral bounty fades, swirl atop the once-blossom-drenched stems.
One lone eager wasp and all his kin – who I (admittedly) feel grateful to be able to bid adieu to for the next two seasons – makes one last, hopeful dash at nest-building.
The spider now clinging to the window above where the trash bins abut the house is an annual late-summer promise of autumn.
And as I walk, I also meander through the week-old memory of another fantastic barred owl encounter: up-close, with prolonged eye contact, murmuring sweet nothings to him. I marvel at the significance, or symbolism, of two rare encounters in the span of less than three weeks.
On a late summer day, in the haze of firesmoke and a pandemic:
These are just some of the gifts offered in a ten-minute journey down and back up the driveway.