I’m about to hand Arlo a flat of ginger off our back porch, when we hear the arrival of a FedEx truck. I bounce over in my shop towel mask and stand expectantly on the wet lawn. Bob told me it was coming, so I know what the driver is fishing for back there in the bowels of his truck.
The box is surprisingly light for such a monumental gift. I set it on the porch and return to Arlo. Bob emerges from his work den, says hello, and brings the box inside. Minutes later, I’m unwrapping a brand new Sony a6100 mirrorless camera with two lenses, batteries and chargers and camera cases — an early birthday gift.
By the time the sun returned, it had been raining for three days thanks to tropical storm Arthur. Bob dumped the rain gauge to keep it from overflowing after it topped 5” and we received another inch and a half. Happily, I had cleaned out the rain water barrel and we had gotten everything planted: the ginger, carrots, edamame, and peanuts.
In the midst of this soggy, grey period, a young man was shot to death. I’m not sure I’d met him, but his mother and I cross paths often, connected via mutual friends. Arlo knew him well and I tell him how sorry I am. They were in school together, had sung together, and on occasion, worked together.
That day I made a break for it and hoofed it down to Stinking Creek between showers. I crossed water three times before arriving at the big creek, and wouldn’t have gotten across the third stream if I hadn’t worn my rubber boots. Water hissed insistently from all sides, making it impossible to think about the senseless of death, which was fine with me.
When I reached the creek, I watched it roaring towards me from around the bend, bucking like a herd of monsters, so powerful that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a tree or an automobile go thrashing by. The crossing rocks, even the turtle, were completely buried in the roiling froth.
Later, Shaine stopped by with a quart of blueberry sauce, a dozen eggs, and a couple of roses: Radiant Perfume, a yellow tea that lives up to its name, and a burgundy David Austin. We sat on the back porch, 8 feet apart with our masks in our laps, and talked about our kitchens and our gardens until it began raining again.
The next day the yellow rose opened wide, the sun returned, and our pond was layered with frogs’ eggs. I put on my boots and walked back to the creek with the new camera. I saw a deer, but it had seen me first, so I wasn’t able to get a picture. I heard a rainbow of birds, frolicking out of sight. And, no picture was going to capture the scent of sodden bark, or the little islands of heat where the sun reached the trail, or the sponginess of the pine needles beneath my feet.
Finally, I stood on the bottomland above Stinking Creek, relieved to see that the turtle had not washed away, and happy to think that if I wanted, I could cross the creek and keep on walking.