Wally Walks

Walks with Wally in the open field are unconstrained. His boundary tethered to trust. Obedient to ghostly trails of scent, nothing stops the pursuit except one thing. My booming voice echoing, “BACK!”, over the land. He seemed to know the precise moment to come in my sights. Right before panic could set in. It was the way he returned, his joy knowing no bounds, that made me believe love and not fear brought us together.

I often followed him to that place of freedom. Flushing out unopened places in my mind. Meandering through tight thickets of thought. Like Wally I went about it unhurried and unworried.

Now that Wally carries the heaviness of age, he’s more often than not a few steps behind than a few yards ahead. In his energetic youthful days, he’d pause occasionally to glance back. Confirming my pace as either keeping up or falling behind. Adjusting accordingly. I now faithfully return the favor to my dear friend.

Wally’s devotion runs as wide and deep as an old river. Together we have walked in beauty, in the darkness that haunts the light and in each other souls. Together is all Wally and I have. Our time together is all I will remember.

Believe in love and not fear.
Together is all we have.
All of us—together— it’s all we have.
Time will remember.

Holy Harmony

What ear doesn’t turn towards the winged-one’s song thick in the March air?
Passionate chords strung together on heart strings,
hoping to snare a mate.

On a limb touching the sky I see him.
His crisp crimson outline easy to spot against the drab scenery.
His whole body reverberates the rapture in each note.
The beat found in nature’s pounding chest.
I pause.

Such intensity.

I wonder, could it be a primordial song of survival?
I feel the lifeless unborn come alive.
That’s what spring does.
It saturates the world with fresh life.
Soak in the song of rebirth.

I thought of St. Augustine who said, “He who sings, prays twice.”
Listen for the holy harmony around you.
You will hear singing from your heart.

Heaven’s Kiss

through the night’s darkness
an icy mist fell
fog floats over the earth
like a grey phantom

nothing left untouched
dampness drips from the landscape’s heavy bones

a mystical mist
mother earth’s breath
trapped in the fallen sky
silently heaven’s soft kiss moves in

sunrise sweet lips
a gentle warmth reached

chill crumbles in the face of light
numbed emotions thaw
mysterious meanings revealed

I walk with my feelings
towards light’s waiting kiss
behind me
lost in the shadows
my darkness

Ready For Anything

With good reason, many Wisconsinites are agonizing over the blast of Siberian like cold passing through the region. Temperatures with the wind chill plummeted to 50 below zero in parts of the state last night, creating exasperating problems in our daily existence. We have descended downward to temperatures that could surely freeze hell over.

Dressed in the wool of two sheep, I found myself sweating before I finished feeding and watering the horses. At times, being over-prepared can be no better than being under-prepared. Sweating was my body’s voice of common sense, telling me to restore the balance between the outside and inside climates. Taking two sheep’s worth of sweaty wool clothing off was more of a relief than the warmth that consoled me at the wood stove. Extreme cold weighs heavy on the mind and body. Clothing adjustments will be made, a last minute decision to throw on a pair of ski goggles— borderline genius.

I am grateful for the bitter cold’s wide opening to feel compassion’s inexhaustible warmth. Folks are filling bird feeders, checking on the elderly and helping each other, two-legged and four, survive the cold. Duchess my 23 years wise Pinto mare, insists on standing outside. Even though I’ve hung two heat lamps in the shelter and laid down a good two feet of shavings on the floor. I did blanket her, more for my comfort than hers. She spent most of the night standing in the shelter of spruce trees bordering the pasture; out of the wind, underneath the light of stars, in a good two feet of snow. Who am I to argue against 23 years of horse sense?

I am also thankful that the jet of glacial cold is forecast to leave the area tomorrow afternoon. By the weekend, meteorologists predict the temperature to be in the upper thirties. Mother Nature’s playground is the weather and she has two pieces of equipment in it, swings and teeter-totters.

I am walking in two winters, one outside and one inside. How well I can balance the climate changes in each has intense implications on my life. Winter invites us to explore the hidden closets old thoughts get hung up in and forgotten. Temperature fluctuations outside, mood swings inside, both create chaotic conversation within us. We become uncomfortable but they are necessary to “feel” what we’re wearing. Adaptability is fundamental to restoring balance in one’s life. It is the sheer definition of preparedness— for anything!

The Red Ranger

She’s not much to look at on the outside; bare bones on the inside; stick shift on the floor; no cruise control; no heated seats; no automatic nothing. On her tail gate are two bumper stickers. I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN and NO FARMERS. NO FOOD. What she lacks in appearance appeal is made up in the heart that pounds under her hood.

“She” is a red 1995 Ford Ranger, Reggie White Signature Edition, complete with floor mats bearing the Green Bay Packer “G” emblem. Reggie White played defensive end for the Green Bay Packers football team in the early 90’s. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXI with a game-ending sack. Green Bay, Wisconsin raised his standing in the community to sainthood after that.

I’m borrowing her from my brother Eddie while my daughter is home from college during winter break. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money during her time off but we unfortunately are short on vehicles. Thanks to my brother’s generosity purchasing another vehicle can now be put off until spring.

On the first morning behind the wheel, I spilled most of the coffee in my mug trying to find the cup holder. Its awkward position almost completely under the dash and behind the stick shift on the floor created the dilemma. No worries. When I tried to wipe it up I couldn’t tell where the coffee spilled. I found it’s quite difficult to drink coffee driving a manual transmission anyhow. Every time I reach for a sip it seems I have to shift.

Adjectives to describe the complex interior aromas cover a wide range of essences. The prominent odor emanates from the three-inch long, one-inch round cigar stub balanced on the edge of the ashtray. I don’t think they put those in vehicles anymore. Do they? I love the scents that swirl around inside an old pickup. The Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror is long past its freshening stage. I was a little sad. I wondered what Black Ice X-tra Strength smelled like. My brain is constantly deciphering the potpourri of airborne wonders wafting past my nose. One deep breath in and all those cherished childhood memories bumping around with my Dad in his pickup truck were revived.

A two-inch round chip in the windshield with an uncanny likeness to a bullet hole, lines up squarely between my eyes. Highway speeds give me a palpable feeling of vulnerability as my body slowly slouches down into the well-worn hollow of the seat on the driver’s side. Seventy mph seems like I’m exceeding her engine boundaries so I keep her five miles under the speed limit. Traffic passes me; make that everyone in the slow lane behind me, with an aggressive attitude. I notice their vehicles roll slightly from side to side from the sharp steering maneuver to cut in and out of the lanes at Nascar speeds. “How rude of them,” I think to myself. With a quick glance from the passing lane they think they know where the Red Ranger and I stand in the world. I take her daily doses of humility to heart.

I’m going to genuinely miss driving her when Sophie goes back to college at the end of the month. I didn’t expect the driving experience to be so fun. Her energy was more zoom zoom then chitty chitty bang bang. She’s slowed me down and sharpened an awareness with my surroundings. Every shift in our lives, up or down, is impeccably timed to slow us down or speed us up. On the winding road of life freewill may be doing the steering but a higher power is working the clutch and stick shift. Getting us where we need to be. When we need to be there. We are all vehicles of Spirit.