April 10, 2011
Today I went in search of pussywillows—those first harbingers of spring.
I told Steve I wanted to find them. Asked him if he knew where they grew. Within ten minutes he called me back. They grow in wet areas—by fresh water. Look along the creeks and rivers. Look beside a lake and you will find them there.
Like me, they love the water. I would plant myself beside one if I could.
I took your little dog, Sadie with me. She lives with me now. I know she misses you as much as I do, though she has no words to tell me this.
Sadie loves a good run in the woods. I love the woods too, though I prefer to walk, not run. Being outside clears my mind. I unclip Sadie from her flexi-lead, she runs ahead of me. She doesn’t go far before turning around. Dancing, she smiles at me--invites me to follow at her pace.
It is not often that she speaks to me. I think she is asking permission.
“Go Sades,” I tell her, “You can play.” She runs ahead.
The tide must be out. The mudflats are exposed. A lone mallard sits out on the point, where the Deschutes empties into Capital Lake. I am watching him sitting there taking in the sun. Sadie sees him too. Before I can call her back, she is gone. Across the mudflats, towards the duck, she gathers speed. The duck hears her, does not look back. He opens his wings, runs a few steps, finds that first current of air and is lifted in flight. He is stunning.
“Sadie. Come back here.” I call to her in my mother voice.
She turns and runs to me. Still laughing, still dancing, she is happy.
All I can do is laugh. Her wheaton colored coat looks like she was dipped in chocolate from all four legs to her chest.
“You are not riding in the car like that.” I tell her. She doesn’t care. She knows I would never leave her.
I cut across the grass field, she runs ahead, sees two crows visiting. She races up to them, interrupting their conversation. I am searching the edges of the marsh. The trees are still holding tightly to their buds, it is not warm enough for leaves. And then I see what I have come for. One tree, grown large, branches full of fuzzy white buds.
I reach up and break a branch. I have followed my friend’s advice. He knew where pussywillows grow.
He teaches me about the plants and trees, the rocks, the dirt, the mountains. He teaches me about things that grow and others that should not. He walks with me in wind and rain telling me the names of plants. I see things differently through his eyes and I am better for it. I learn to be gentle with the earth and with myself. To listen and to wait.
And to remember.