This month a friend and I have regularly been making the circle from my house down along the millrace to the dam pond and back through campus. We found a family of swans has established itself at the foot of the boat launch. They don't seem to be at all bothered when we sit for awhile on a nearby bench and watch them.
There are five young ones, two white and three brown. From what I've read the color has nothing to do with gender (despite my stereotypical expectations), and they will all be white when they mature.
Sometimes we found them sleeping, sometimes gliding swan-like through the water (fancy that!), sometimes lifting their wings slightly and sailing with the breeze. Some even managed to sleep while afloat. But mostly we found them preening, leaving a scattering of swan feathers all around. Some days a small fleet of swan feathers sailed away across the pond, thanks to a passing breeze, while the swans themselves stood and preened.
Here's a bouquet of little things I've seen along the millrace bike path in the past few weeks. There have been lots of big, light-filled scenes -- magnificent clouds, reflections in the water, sun on the trees. But quietly, easily missed, are the tiny blossoms (and bugs!) at the margins. (It's hard to tell scale when I am cropping closely, but all these blossoms are less that a quarter's size.)
It's the seedy season -- buckeyes and acorns and parachutes of seed-carrying fluff. All sorts of shapes and shades of brown and tan -- and one last morning glory blooming on our vine, when I thought it was all dried and gone to seed. No seeds in the last photo though, just Yertle the Turtle and friends.
Looking down or looking up, I'm finding sparks of light these sunny fall days. Rippling in water, reflecting from the dam pond, rimming clouds and flowers and leaves, when the sun shines, we're all soaking it in, storing up memories of light and color for the gray days that are just around the corner. And yet even those days will have their own subtle ways of catching the light.
Fall is here, hard as it is to believe that today, with the temperature hitting a high of 97. It may feel summer-hot, but we've made the turn into fall. Everything seems to be going to seed, or doing its best to soak up all the sunlight in can. Autumn is in the air -- and so are the geese. And harvestman and daddy longlegs are both delightful names for the same creature, which is not actually a spider, despite appearances.
What we notice and what we don't notice....
Notice the broken and crooked sidewalk in this photo? I didn't.
A couple of weeks ago I headed out for a walk after lunch and when I got to this corner, I was looking down 8th Street, deciding whether to head that way or back through campus. I wasn't looking at my feet. I caught my foot on the raised edge and I went down. I hardly had time to realize that this wasn't going to be just an awkward stumble before I fell flat on my face, hitting my chin hard.
I sat up, taking stock. A car passing on College stopped and the driver jumped out, asking if I was okay or if he should take me to the emergency room. I was feeling shaken, but only had a small scrape on my left palm, a sore knee, and a sore chin. The emergency room seemed like way more than I needed, at least until the driver pointed out that I'd cut my chin and might need stitches. It wasn't bleeding badly though, so I suggested my doctor's office. He asked who that was, exclaimed, "He's my doctor too!" when I told him, and proceeded to phone there to see if the doctor could see me.
Meanwhile a friend from church came biking past on her way back to work on campus. She immediately stopped and knelt beside me to see how I was. Another friend from my church small group came walking past,saw who it was, and stopped to see if he could help. Then a police car pulled up behind the stopped car on College and the policeman came over to see if he was needed. Another car pulled on to 8th Street and a woman in scrubs got out, took a look at me and went back to get a med kit from her car. While she was getting it, another car pulled over on 8th and an older woman got out and came over, exclaiming, "My sister fell in that same spot and broke her nose."
Jodi asked how I was feeling. Shaken, sore in spots, not sure whether I needed the doctor or just some help getting home -- and a mix of taking comfort from all the assistance and a bubble of amusement at the way it resembled those scenes at the circus where a tiny car pulls up and clown after clown climbs out. Not that these good Samaritans were clowns -- anything but!
The woman in scrubs also thought I might need stitches, and the first driver had verified that someone could see me at the doctor's and offered to take me there. Turns out he's a city detective, so I guess this fell in the general area of "helping the public."
It was my own doctor's day off, so I was seen by another doctor in the practice -- who happens to be part of the clan that I play mah jongg with most New Year's Eves. He got my chin cleaned up, superglued the cut instead of stitching it, and checked that I was okay elsewhere, before sending me home with my father, who leaves nearby and was able to provide transport.
I was sore the next day, but really not in too bad shape. A few bruises on my hip, a scrape on my knee and on my palm, and the cut on my chin, which I hardly noticed. The biggest side effect was that the blow to my chin jarred my jaw, so that it was difficult to chew for the next week or two. The first day I could hardly manage to eat a peach, but it improved steadily, and by now all is back to normal. What a delight to be able to eat crusty bread and chew nuts again -- and to eat peaches!
If you are going to trip and fall, there are far worse places to do it than along a main thoroughfare to the hospital and the campus, just after lunch. I am most grateful to all the folks who took time to stop and help. When I sat waiting for the doctor to see me, there was a moment when I started to feel a little teary and sorry for myself, and then I remembered that outpouring of aid, and was comforted.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"