from mid-April —
Out for walk with Jason. Thermometer reads seventeen celsius. Sun is bright, though obscured by veil of clouds. Birdsong all around. Hum of lawnmowers in distance. Dead skunk by side of road. I carry a book to read: the Journals of John Cheever. “He meant by his writing to escape this loneliness, to shatter the isolation of others,” his son writes in introduction. Fascinating. Much about Cheever appeals to me. I meet Jason halfway and we walk east on Heinz Road. “A sweatshirt and a hat, huh?” Jason observes; it’s too warm for these. We talk about health care, houses, and books. We talk about dreams. Almost back to his place. I inhale deeply and say, “I love these smells: fresh-cut grass, the scent of the pines. It smells like a forest.” We say our farewells and I take out book again. A bee, punchy from sun, lands on my shoulder. I try to brush it away, but it is too groggy to leave. It clings to sweatshirt. I decide that it is not bothering me, and return to my book. My footsteps disturb a bumblebee by side of road. He flies slowly in parallel, matching my pace, buzzing, then lands on fragrant peach-colored rhododendron. No — it is the daphne next to it that is fragrant. Bee on my shoulder flies away. Birdsong all around. A flicker sounds its jungle cry. Robins chirp. Little birds titter and twitter. Pass culvert with running water — from where? Is nearby nursery irrigating? At corner, I startle pheasant. He rises up, beating air with his bronze wings, drifts across the road to new hiding spot, all the while chortling his gravelly call. I startle second pheasant, takes flight in opposite direction, skimming surface of field until he disappears into tall tuft of grass. He, too, squawks in flight. Across from Lams, long-haired black cat emerges from arborvitae hedge to gaze at me with baleful green eyes. “Move along,” he seems to say. Across from the Zimmers, boy is mowing lawn. Lawnmower has died, and boy — who looks about twelve — yanks on cord: pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. He gives up and squats by machine, unscrews gas cap. I pass skunk again, hold my breath. I look at Carlsons field: fallow now for three years and filled with unofficial Oregon state plant — the Himalayan blackberry. Across lawn and into office.