I am about a third of the way through my morning walk, the sun loud and bright, barely abated by wispy clouds that stretch from east to west. It is a slightly cooler morning than it has been, as the monsoon has come to town and it rained a lot the night before. I have my iPod alarm clock set to wake me up with songs specifically chosen for their “get your ass out of bed” theme, and the groove of the Beatles’ “Good Morning” is running through my head, as it was the last thing I heard before I left the house. I am musing, listening to birds, counting lizards, as I usually do on my walks, when out of nowhere I am the victim of a hit-and-run by a large black dragonfly. It caroms off my nose, and continues buzzing on its dragonfly way. It doesn’t even stop to see if I’m all right. Once the shock wears off, I chuckle, and wonder if it’s possible to get a shaman on retainer, or at least on speed-dial, to interpret these things that happen to me. Dragonflies are symbols of change. Is the fact that one literally smacked me in the face significant?
From half a block away, I see the male Gambel’s quail scurrying across the street. I look toward whence he came to see if he would be followed by wee baby quail and his missus, but he is alone. Well not quite alone. I can see in the yard he came from a small terra cotta quail, and wonder if he’d been pitching illicit woo to a yard ornament. I smirk at his confusion.
I am still laughing at him as I approach the terra cotta quail myself, only to discover that it is, in fact, a rock. Not a terra cotta quail at all. Apparently, Mr. Quail is not the only one overdue for a visit to the optometrist.
I am a block from home on my walk, and as I cross the street, I step my right foot into a puddle that remains from the night before. I remember the little boy I observed splashing in a puddle after an afternoon storm last week, he, his mother, and I reveling in his pure boyness. The sound of splashing water is music to most, but it is a rare enough thing here in the desert that it evokes a cheerful reverence among children inner and actual. As I walk, it occurs to me to look back and see that I’m leaving a brief right-footed track, my left shoe stealthy in its dryness, and I wonder if someone will happen upon it and speculate as to whether a fitness-minded pirate has moved into the neighborhood, wandering down sidewalks with the klock-squish gait of wooden leg and Nike.
I am silly; no question. But I have a good time.
I am driving to work, later than usual, and walking on the sidewalk next to my car are a brother and sister. She is maybe six or seven years old, blonde, almost white blonde in, and from, the summer sun. She seems to be breakfasting on an Otter Pop at 9:08 a.m., and for that alone I like her. Her brother is dressed in the Tucson summer uniform, similar to my own this morning: shorts and t-shirt. But his little sister is wearing her swimsuit and a pair of cheap flip-flops as she pads along, reminding me of younger days when I would spend all day in a swimsuit, in and out of various lakes, plastic pools, and lawn sprinklers. It is an open secret that women love men as much for the little boys inside them as anything else, but I wonder how many women remember the little girls inside ourselves, unselfconscious girls who thought nothing of walking down the street in their swimsuits, heedless of conventions that say swimsuits and flip-flops are not appropriate street attire, nor Otter Pops appropriate breakfast. Would that we could hold onto that confidence, rather than work so hard in our thirties and beyond to regain what was our birthright. If only we would stop trying so hard to be suitable, and remember what it was like to be swimsuitable. If we could taste it again, surely we would never settle for anything less.