In search of story



I had no illusions. I knew when I bought this house that I was moving into a youthful neighborhood. I knew the lives of everyone around me would be different from mine. I knew, I knew.

But things have gone too far. Two of my lithe and smooth-skinned neighbors are pregnant. Hormones ought not be so flaunted.

People run everywhere. With stopwatches and strollers. They ride bikes, skate, and I swear I’ve heard pogo sticks. Sweating is socially acceptable. Energy abounds and muscles ripple. Flaunt, flaunt, flaunt.

I recently saw a reference to people “50 and better.” 50 and BETTER? How patronizing. Why not just pat me on my little greying head and send me to my rocker with my afghan and Geritol julep? The word is “older,” thank you.

AARP sends me glossy magazines touting the trim glow of celebrities. Puh-leeze. They have nothing to do with me or I with them. I live a real life. My right knee makes a peculiar soft clicking noise when I go downstairs. On occasion my hips seem out of sync with my legs, where veins rise up like the Rockies. My fingers grow ever more gnarled and painful. I sag everywhere. My skin grows toadstools. And, worse yet, my granddaughter plays with my old-lady elbows and tempts me to forget I dote on her.

I have heard women talk about “getting over” and “moving beyond” body image. To them I say — and loudly — IMPOSSIBLE! Not that I ever had much body to have an image about, but still I miss the days when I could get up from the floor.

Golden years, my Aunt Fanny, as my ancestors would say.

There. I’m done for now.


The spa

I’ve heard it said that birds do not visit bird baths that are low to the ground. Not so. I have two ground-level facilities which have been featured on the cover of “Bird Word,” that trendy magazine for and by birds.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA My back yard, with its all-you-can-eat buffet of worms and marigolds, double bath, cool mulch and untreated grass, gourmet bugs and the shade of a burgeoning River Birch, has become a destination for the discriminating to take the waters.

Like the stately cardinal. Chanticleer amid the bobbing squall of little birds, who are of a more playful spirit, he tries the crowded circular bath and finds it distressingly plebeian. So he withdraws to the gracefully heart-shaped bath, donated by a local philanthropist, and on its rolled edge, aloof in crimson majesty, he surveys my back yard. The splashers keep a respectful distance.

I have seen six splashers at once. Like popping corn, they bounce back and forth between the two baths and splash with sloppy exuberance, untroubled by disapproving looks from more reserved guests, like the mourning doves, who have learned to come after the rollicking lunch bunch. The doves drink meditatively, bathe with decorum, then adjourn to the wet mulch under the River Birch, where they tummy down and doze, apparently blissful in the quiet.

I have seen a belligerent robin peck away all comers, until, alone, he closes his eyes and sleeps, standing dopily in the middle of the water like some ruined fountain.

I have seen hummingbirds sip and zip, chickadees with their tidy berets, finches of neon yellow and subtle reds, unknowns with azure under their wings. They check in and check out with chirpy abandon.

In some southern clime now, they reminisce and say they’ll be back.


The muse in the zinnias

Zinnia babies!
Little Ys
for YAY, I LIVE!

Leafy cloud birthing
a bud — a thought —
green nascent inkling,

Then topaz and garnets,
ruffles of gold,
breeze-floated finery,
gemmed butterfly road.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Ripples of citrus,
dollops of cream,
bees imbibe wantonly,
stripes popping at seams.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Asteraceously proud
but democrat still,
comfy with beeblossom,
bedbug and dill.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

A bowl full of summer!
A head full of words —
which will stretch up
and burst sun-towards?SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Zinnias are symbol
of dear, absent friends —
some, fellow writers.
And this is the end.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA