Day Two: Wandering … Inside and Out

I began my day in the breakfast room of the Lighthouse Lodge in Pacific Grove, California. I talked with a woman my age (we’re both approximately 85). She and her hubby had moved to Reno, Nevada a while back. “Do you like it there?” > “No.” [a refreshingly straight answer, I thought] > “How come?” > “Just a lot of cactus.” > “So why did you move there?” > “They don’t have income tax.”

We talked about other stuff but the deepest part of me was way behind the conversation. I was sad for her. I could feel her heart shrivelling within the bonds of practicality.

Next up in the “butter your bagel” parade was a mom and her adult daughter. They had heard me mention the word “consciousness” to the first woman, and apparently their antennae were up. Mom came over and asked about the seminar I’m in at Asilomar starting on Thursday. I smiled and turned my chair to them. Ryan and Kaitlyn work with kids, trying to head off adult problems at the pass. They were happy to hear about the Evolutionary Collective.

If Ryan hadn’t come forward, I may or may not have started a conversation. Her courage opened windows between us, and we flew through together. I hope they’re back pouring their coffee tomorrow morning.

***

I’m tapping away in the lobby of Asilomar. It’s a grand wooden space with a row of beams way up high and simple chandeliers watching from above. Even though I’m a day early, I’ve been hoping that some EC folks stroll by. There’s lots of room on the leather couch for our hearts to join. Many people come and go but I don’t know any of their faces. Alas … my friends and future friends are elsewhere. I miss them.

It’s time to wander in the world. But wait a second. A gentleman has just sat down at a piano that I didn’t even notice. He kisses the keys with his fingertips. I’ll wander a bit later. Oops … he just stopped, plunking himself down on a nearby bench. I call out to him: “Play some more!” He smiles but doesn ‘t return to the piano. His wife comes out of the gift shop. He stands and walks away with her, waving a goodbye to me.

So, Bruce … now what? After all, that piano is looking a bit lonely.

***

If you guessed that I sauntered right over and tickled the ivories, you’d be right. Oh my goodness, that made me happy. I don’t read piano music so I just let my fingers find their way. Probably twenty years ago, I let myself do this in public … and then I shut it down. It was a general fear of people that mounted year by year. I let it put a lid on my natural expression at the piano. Not today!

There were about five folks in the lobby while I played. Afterwards, not a word, not a clap, not a problem. I’m no concert hall pianist but my heart does have a way of migrating into my hands.

***

I decided on a supper destination – the Red House Café in downtown Pacific Grove. To get there, I’ll walk on the coastal path, around the big point and eventually find streets again.

I set off amid the wonder of blue sky and the whisper of a breeze. Along the way, I was greeted by rock outcrops, the whitest sand beaches, gulls and cormorants, tidal pools, blankets of a green tubular plant, flowers, and … Adriana Massino.

I spotted a young woman ahead on the path wearing a glowing ball cap. It looked so cool as she sauntered along. As I caught up to her, I smiled and said “I love your hat!” She smiled back. I waited a second to see if she wanted to extend the conversation, and she did. She asked if we could walk together. And we did.

Adriana is Italian, now living in Paris. She and her partner have started a company, and are in the US to see if some Americans want to join them in the endeavour. The business focuses on an online service that makes it easier for pet owners to access veterinarians (at least I think that was it!)

Adriana was so easy to be with. No hurry, let’s see what’s on the side paths, look at the beauty of this place, time for another photo. We talked of life, of the wide open spaces here, of the crush of people in Paris, of Senegal, of Canada, of kindness. Sometimes she went first on the path, sometimes I did. Sometimes we bubbled in our talking, sometimes we were silent. All was fine.

Adriana and I hugged goodbye, knowing that the most likely thing is that we’ll never see each other again. Still, we shared an hour of contact, of smiles, of ease.

I am blessed.

Day Four: In the Woods

“Who will show up in my life today?”

It was a good morning question. The answer came in the form of Pil, a well-bearded family friend who waltzed into Jo and Lydia’s kitchen shortly after noon. As we sat in the dining room over lunch, I learned that he was a retired surgeon who was in hospital last week as a patient, with an arterial thrombosis. We had a good conversation about blood clots and then he and Lydia started talking about something.

My plan was to head off to the shower but before I could make a move in that direction, here was Pil again, inviting me to spend the afternoon with him in the woods. I went small inside my head, wondering if my injured knee could handle a lot of rough ground. Seconds later, though, I smiled a “yes” at him.

“Do you have rubber boots?”

Oops. What was I getting myself into? Soon Pil was helping me get into a pair that Jo had. I didn’t know that the idea was to roll your socks down under the soles of your feet, wrap the cuffs of your pants around your ankles and pull the socks over them. Then shove your feet into the boots. The things you learn from a Belgian outdoorsman.

Next, Pil helped me get into coverings for my legs. He was so patient. I was just wondering how wet we were going to get! No matter … it was time for an adventure.

We stopped at Pil’s house in Roonse to pick up an important addition – his dog Chip, a black lab. He came right up to me in the hall and let me pet him. So cool. Soon the three of us were off to a world of narrow, twisting streets and long views across farm fields to tall stands of trees. Pil pointed out the hospital where he used to work and got me close to a stunning 1000-year-old church which just last week was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a couple of gate openings, we were rolling through groves of trees, some ancient and some planted within the last four years. Then it was a transfer to a 4×4 for some rough trail riding. Yee haw! Pil’s first job was to refill about fifteen seed containers with corn for the pheasants. And we saw lots of them – scurrying along the paths with their red-ringed necks, and taking flight if Chip got too close, which he was good at.

Mr. Chip is a hunting dog and Pil came fully equipped with a squeaky orange ball. Many, many times I threw it in the air and watched as Chip leapt up to catch it in his mouth, usually on the first bounce. Once I tossed the ball into the bush and saw Chip dive in after it. He kept emerging without the ball, and when I investigated, I saw that the target was a thick bramble of raspberry bushes, armed effectively with thorns. Not to be deterred, Pil whipped out a machete and started whacking away. Maybe three minutes later, an orange globe revealed itself on the ground.

Pil loves his land and the beings who inhabit it. The pigeons overhead, the roe deer, the young deciduous trees, the pheasants, the ducks – but probably not the rats. He is a steward of at least 100 acres and he wants life to thrive there. For part of our time, he wrapped saplings with plastic shields that prevents animals from damaging the young ones.

At one point, we stopped beside a small pond. I launched the orange missile again and again, and each time Chip burst into the water and swam like an Olympian towards the floating ball. Back onshore, he shook for all he was worth and ran to me for some roughhousing. Hence the protective wear over my pants.

Almost two months ago, I was bitten by a tiny dog in Cincinnati, Ohio. And here I was today, virtually pummeling Chip and being well pummeled back, and reaching in to get the ball out of his mouth. I smiled at my rediscovered courage.

Pil, Chip and me: what a happy threesome. The generous man asked the adventurous man to join him and his bouncing dog for an afternoon of fun and frolic. And it happened. Yay! Thank you, dear universe.

Golf Balls

When I was a kid, I’d often show up at the Don Valley Golf Course in Toronto.  At 6:00 am on Saturday mornings.  Juniors could tee off starting at 7:00 and meanwhile I had a job to do – replenishing my dwindling supply of golf balls from the flow of the Don River.  I had so much fun getting so wet.

Decades later, Jody and I enjoyed walking by the Oldman River in Lethbridge, Alberta.  Lovely trees in the river bottom, a golf course beside and always the flow of water gurgling nearby.  I didn’t need to find golf balls but I did it anyway, much to my dear wife’s amusement.  And the joy I felt when a white treasure winked up at me from the fallen leaves!

Yesterday, it was pouring buckets but I wanted to walk the fairways and rough of Tarandowah Golfers Club, a spiritual home of mine.  I put on rain pants and my trusty winter coat.  In the parking lot sat three lonely cars, one belonging to the ever hopeful pro who stood patiently in the clubhouse.  He knew about my shtick:  “Enjoy your walk, Bruce.”

Off I went into the stiff breeze and the barrage of raindrops.  I was just so happy!  I sauntered down the middle of the first fairway, all alone in the world.  Behind the first green, the grass falls down to a creek.  That’s where I needed to go.  I searched amid the long leafiness, seemingly without success.  Then a small white object appeared, tucked into its nest of grasses.  And – no more than a foot away – another ball made my acquaintance.  Joy times two!

I have a system, no doubt set in place to massage my ego after a round of 112 at Tarandowah.  When I’m walking, and not playing, I par a hole when I find one ball there.  Two balls is a birdie, no balls a bogey.  So par for the entire course is having my pockets bulge with 18 of the little darlings.  My record has been 22 under par (40 balls)  which would equate to a score of 50 in the real game of golf – eight strokes better than anyone has ever accomplished.  I’ve told a few golfers about my clubless exploits but they all seemed unimpressed.

Wow – it was getting wet out there, but happily I was three under par after four holes.  Now for the gem:  The fifth is a long uphill par four with a farmer’s field bordering it to the right.  The soil was gooey, the pondlets were several, the shoes squished at nearly every step.  But look what I found!  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … 33 golf balls poked their dimples at me.

Many a time, I thrust my forefinger into the mud and pried out the prize.  Some wiping on my rain pants and into the pocket it went.  As you might suspect, my coat has big pockets, and as I finally trudged back to the clubhouse, I looked like a squirrel with its cheeks full of nuts for the winter.  But there was nobody around to see my personal vestige of loveliness.  Oh well, I knew I was glorious … complete with mud smears, coated hands and wet everything, despite the rain protection.  I was just so dirty … so wild … so strange.

The grand total?  43 balls, which represents a new standard for all golfers to aspire to.  I expect any moment now that my doorbell will ring and TSN/ESPN/CNN will come calling.

Space

I spent years in the Rockies, hiking the trails above treeline and others deep in forests.  Long views were everywhere.  I had room to move, rather than some of my employment situations, where it felt like I was wearing a large cardboard box over my head.

Lately, my room to roam has been walking the fairways of Tarandowah, the golf course I love.  So sweet to be immersed in that world.  But are there other possibilities in Southern Ontario?

Heading west from Belmont today, I was imagining another golfing journey.  I know my route – south on Belmont Road, east on Yorke Line, cross Dorchester Road, cross Imperial Road, cross Whittaker Road.  But today I found myself turning left on the gravel of Whittaker, just to see what was there.

Well, I knew that further on was Lake Whittaker Conservation Area.  Jody and I had been years ago, but I couldn’t remember what it was like.  Lakeshore trail, I guessed.  Woods, meadows.  As I approached the park gate, I was pretty blasé.  Guess I’ll go for a walk.

But then …

Past some bushes, the lakeshore was revealed, as well as a hundred Canada geese floating serenely.  And their calls echoed above the trees.  I paused.

Then the woods.  Corridors of fir trees, with the late afternoon light slanting through.  I gasped.

Later, waist high grass in the fields, escorted by golden larch trees.  Everything shining.  I simply stopped.

My mind was large
My heart was open
My world was free

Training

I’m zipping along beside fields and woodlots, on the train from London to Toronto.  I feel like doing a real time reflection on the sights flowing past my window.  So here goes:

1. Slowly pulling away from downtown London.  The backside of one business is tortured with coils of razor wire, reminding me of horrifying war movies and the real human beings who were imprisoned within such monstrosities.

2. Searching for St. David’s in Dorchester, a school that I loved visiting as an itinerant vision teacher.  I fear that I’m on the wrong side of the train and gaze over the heads of the folks to the right.  But there’s nothing.  I missed it.  I’m a wee bit sad since I love glimpsing familiar places, even if only for a second.

3. It’s a cloudy day and so the spectacular fall colours are muted.  I’m disappointed.  I yearn for the brilliance.  It reminds me of the guy who came to my home a couple of days ago to calibrate my new TV.  He said that manufacturers set up their TVs to really pop in showrooms – neon greens and whites full of blue.  It sells the product but creates an unreality, with precious little play of details.  I decide to take my trees as they come.

4. Orange traffic signs piled against a fence – One Way, Slow, Detour, and a whole bunch of arrows pointing every which way.  It’s such an image of the frantic life … “Go here.  Now go there.  Do this.  Don’t do that.”  No thanks.

5. Seeking interesting stuff.  Having an agenda to find the next stimulus.  “How about, Bruce, if you soften those eyes of yours and just let things appear?”  Okay.  Who cares if I write about six sights, or twenty-six?

6. Here comes a circular water tower – white at the top, then a pinched in blue section, followed by a white bottom.  Seems to be a uniform design throughout Southern Ontario.  I’m reminded of the Belmont water tower.  My new home sits nearby.  Whether I’m returning from the north, south, east or west, there’s a beacon above the trees.  “Welcome home.”

7. A street of houses facing the tracks.  What must that be like?  Would the people there really be able to tune out all the noise?  Please give me quiet.

8. Stopped at the Brantford station.  Rows of tracks.  Houses over there past the fence.  Part of me wants movement, change … but the bigger part just lets everything stay put.

9. A young woman in the seat in front of me is playing with her hair.  All I see is her left hand, with ever moving strands of hair passing between her fingers.  It’s very beautiful.

10. The field beside tilts and rolls.  Where corn used to be are now marvelous curves, sensuous like a woman’s body.  I’m aroused.

11. Towering cliffs with tiny people on the top ledge.  I want to be them, casting myself into a view full of reds, oranges and yellows.  Do they want to be me, on a journey to distant lands?

12. A station called Aldershot.  It appears to be in the middle of nowhere, no homes or businesses in sight.  Just a whole bunch of railway cars.  How strange – a place with no sense of place.

13. Piles of glittering silver junk, fronted by a green metal fence flooded with unknown graffiti.  I don’t know how to make sense of it all.

14. Poking above the fall trees are blocky hotels.  Such a contrast.  I like both, usually not at the same time.  I’ll take action, please.  And now serenity.

15. Twenty minutes from downtown Toronto.  Feeling the pull away from the here-and-now, towards completion of the task … proofreading, pressing Enter to launch my words into the universe, packing up, walking into my next world.

See you there

A Beating Heart

I’m thrilled that the lot where my new home will stand backs onto a farmer’s field.  It’ll be corn this year and beans the next.  Beyond the field, the land slopes up so my horizon is dotted with farm homes and silos.    Oh my.  I love long views and come September I’ll have one.

As an expression of obsession, I showed up yesterday after sunset.  The sky was still pink to the west and the spread of clouds above me covered the world.  I was in big sky country.  Dots of farmstead lights comforted me … my neighbours were home, enjoying their cozy living rooms and kitchens.

But what’s that?  A flashing dot of red way to the north.  I contracted.  It was the same reaction as I have seeing flashing Christmas lights on a house – no!  It brought up pictures of industry, stores and a frantic pace.  That’s not what I want.  But it’s what I will have.

I watched my body and my feelings fall on the negative side.  “Just be with it, Bruce.”  And I did.  The beat was slow, maybe 40 a minute.  As I gazed northward for awhile, there came a shift in energy, just a bit at first but then a stream and then a flood.  The light was love.  It was a heart.  It was Jody.  It was all the folks that I hold dear.  I kept looking.  The speed of the city intruded a bit but then gradually faded into the rhythm of life.

As I explored the perimeter of my lot in the darkness, I discovered that at certain points trees hid the telecommunication tower.  No red.  Disappointment … glee … disappointment.  So in the fall I’ll be able to embrace the heart or let it step aside.  To see a symbol of civilization or to feel the farms.  Life will rush towards me either way.

Watching The Land

I drove from London towards Tarandowah this afternoon.  I was out in the country, on Scotland Drive.  And I looked around.

Lots of rolling farm fields interspersed with woodlots.  I love the curves of the land … no sharp angles or straight lines.  They mirror the flow I often feel inside me.  And there’s a sentinel tree on top of a rise, its bare branches reaching out in a gesture of grace.  Lovely.

But what’s this?  There’s a line of towers up ahead, crossing the road at right angles.  I know we need electricity but the huge man-made structures intrude in my head.  I thank the unknown powers that the towers aren’t paralleling Scotland Drive, accompanying me all the way.  Crossing their path, however, is okay.  I’m happy to wish them goodbye.

Here comes an old barn with its grey vertical boards.  Half of it has fallen down in a heap of wood.  And that too is okay.  I welcome the old and passing.  So impermanent, this life.

And then there’s a field, jam packed with solar panels, facing away from me.  My stomach turns.  It’s such a mass of flat angled surfaces.  The next field too.  How strange my mind wanders.  Solar energy is such a boon for mankind but I can’t get beyond my distaste for rectangles.  It reminds me of a subdivision in Calgary, Alberta – cookie cutter homes only a few feet from each other.

As Scotland climbs its last kilometre towards its T intersection with Belmont Road, I see living beings on the horizon … silhouettes of cows and horses.  I like that too.  Seems that I’m an old fashioned type of guy.

Day Seventeen … Jake and Mr. Redbird

I wonder if I’m obsessed with the play Jake’s Women.  I guess the answer is yes.  Until Wednesday at 7:29 pm, I had watched Jake do his thing six times – three in Belleville, Ontario and three in London, Ontario.  I want to be Jake.  As of 7:30, however, make that seven.  I bipped down to Bellingham, Washington, just south of Vancouver, to sit in the gorgeous Mount Baker Theatre and dream of February, 2016 in St. Thomas, Ontario, when hopefully theatregoers will be watching me do my thing.

I auditioned for the part of Jake just before I left for the west.  How completely strange that I wasn’t nervous.  Before I was called into the inner sanctum, I talked to some kids in the lobby of the Princess Avenue Playhouse.  They were making puppets in a drama workshop.  One of the girls was playing Little Red Riding Hood in a few days.  Her name was Maddie.  Nice human being.

A bit later, I was ushered into a room where a man and a girl were sitting at a table.  It was Ross (the director) and … Maddie.  She was trying out for the part of Molly, Jake’s 12-year-old daughter.  Ross had us read from the script, especially scenes where Molly and I were together.  I’m sure he was watching for the chemistry between us.  No worries, Ross.  I really liked Maddie and she liked me.  At the end of the audition, Ross said that we had both done well.

Back in the lobby, I told Maddie that I hoped she gets the part, and she said the same to me.  We smiled and shook hands.  It was a great moment.

Okay, back to Wednesday.  Mount Baker was a very small theatre. The set was square and the audience inclined upwards on all sides.  Jake sometimes was just a few feet from me.  I almost jumped up and said, “I want to be Jake too!”  Somehow I restrained myself.  Jake was dynamic – sometimes tender, subtle, pissed off, and – for ten minutes or so with his new girlfriend Sheila – crazy.  I watched him like a hawk, including when other actors were speaking.  So many facial expressions.  Pauses that worked beautifully.  Real.

After the stage faded to black, I gave the actors a standing ovation.  Every single one of them deserved it.  I soon realized that I was the only person standing.  Oh well.  I stayed up.  As Jake left the stage, he smiled at me.  Jake to Jake, I do believe, but Ross may have other ideas.  We’ll see.

Since I’m essentially a conservative person, I’m going to resist with all my being the idea of showing up at the Mount Baker Theatre tomorrow night to see Jake’s Women again.  I mean, there is such a thing as too much.  Wouldn’t you agree?  (8!)

Jake was really on Day Sixteen but Mr. Redbird was definitely Day Seventeen.  I headed off to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary to see the feathered ones.  I’d been once before, about 40 years ago, and I had this great memory of thousands of white seabirds soaring through the air, just like in a National Geographic TV show.  But it was not to be.  No clouds of moving white.  Instead, as I wandered the gravel paths, I had company … strings of Canada geese and ducks, waddling along as calm as you please.  As long as I moved slowly and predictably, they just passed me.  Some of them smiled.

At the edge of one large pond, a woman told me that there were four great blue herons sitting in a tree across the way.  I saw one on the dead branches.  But the grey of the wood soon morphed into three other splotches of bird life.  Farther away, three more herons were perched on snags.  Then a lady or gentleman swooped down near by and took up a fish-seeking position only about 25 metres from me.  (8!)

I spent some time up the observation tower, watching swallows swoop over the marshes.  That was fun.  When I got down, I saw a young woman sitting with a girl who appeared to have Down Syndrome.  The woman was holding out her hand and a red-winged blackbird was perched on it, eating seeds.  “Do you want to try?”  “Yes, thank you.”  She gave me a handful of a sunflower seed/millet mixture and I practiced being perfectly still.  Seems I know a bit about doing that.  In less than a minute, Mr. Redbird came to say hello.  Oh my.  He pecked away so industriously.  He hardly weighed anything.  And his black claws dug into my fingers just a wee bit.  Plus we made eye contact.  For at least fifteen minutes, we had good quality time.  One time, a second red one alit on my wrist.  They took turns pecking at the seeds.  Very courteous.  Only once did they have a spat, but then returned quickly to their “After you” rhythm.  Thank you, birdies.  I had a fine time.

Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of 150 islands north of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and an eight-hour ferry ride west of the BC mainland.  It means “islands of the people”, the aboriginal Haida people.  It used to be called the Queen Charlotte Islands.  Thank goodness Canada now recognizes its native residents by name.

I’m going there – in June, 2016.  I’ll be spending eight days on a sailing ship with seven other guests and a crew of four or five.  Wow.  I’m really doing this.  Jody and I wanted to explore the BC coast together, but alas, that was not to be.  Except that Jodiette says she’ll be at my side every wave of the way.  Thank you, my wife.

I’m likely to see humpback whales, bald eagles, dolphins, sea lions, very large black bears, and maybe killer whales.  I will listen to Haida elders talk of their totem poles and their spiritual life.  I will enjoy the company of my new friends onboard.  And I will meditate on God’s vast reach on our planet.

On a trip to Haida Gwaii a few weeks ago, here are some notes from the captain:

This morning we visited K’uuna (Skedans), and as we approached we had another humpback whale on the starboard side.  We counted 100 bald eagles at Skedans Islands.

I can anticipate, plan, expect and predict … but my journey will unfold as it should.  What if I never see a humpback?  Then that’s how it is.  What if my roommate turns out to be a macho young fellow.  Then that’s how it is.  What if it rains and pours for the whole trip?  So be it.  My heart will be open.  My spirit will soar.  Whatever happens, I expect to be stunned into silence every day.

I’m so glad I’m going.

Make Some Noise … Listen to the Quiet

I went to a hockey game last night.  The London Knights (ages 16-20) were playing Niagara.  I didn’t handle it very well.  The announcer regularly yelled out “Make Some Noise”, accompanied by flashing red lights.  A noise meter calculated the crowd’s response.  Sigh.  I just didn’t want to.  Then there were the fights.  One time, a London player slugged a Niagara player so that he dropped to one knee.  Some unnecessary portion of the fan base squealed with delight.  I just didn’t want to.  And I shouldn’t omit the work of the referees.  The fellow beside me favoured section 113 with many calls to arms, such as “Hey, ref!  You suck.”  I truly didn’t want to join in.

I guess I’m a queer duck.  What I most enjoyed during the evening was singing “O Canada”, watching some sublime passing plays by the Knights, and walking through the concourse between periods, silently sending “I wish you well” messages to the people I saw.

As for the game, my zip was zapped.  Other times, I would stand up and cheer when the Knights scored.  Not last night.  And that could have been me dancing in the aisle during a stoppage in play.  Another evening, that is.  I just need quiet now, as I deal with Jody’s death.

And the quiet was today.  I went for a walk on the classic old golf course that’s around the corner from me.  It’s snowed a lot lately but I didn’t think that would be any big deal.  I was wearing my heavy boots.  I wanted to find my way to the back holes, the ones with tree-lined fairways far from the road.

I discovered that the snow was shin deep, and sometimes to my knees.  But amid all that I was surrounded by silence.  An occasional crow cawed.  The seagulls, however, flew over my head with nary a peep.  Yes please.  I talked to Jody when I stopped making footprints in the snow.  I stood and cried for my dear wife.  I sang her “Annie’s Song” and I almost made it all the way through.

The crunching continued and I started to poop out.  Looking through my sunglasses, I realized that I didn’t have very good depth perception out there.  If the drift ahead of me was climbing to the right, I couldn’t tell, and then suddenly I was knee deep in fatigue.  The seeing was complicated by my little friends the floaters, who sure move around my field of vision a lot.  And as I pulled my feet out of holes, I started worrying that if I fell down I might not be able to get up again.

As I rounded one corner on a fairway at the back of the course, I looked way ahead and saw a human being, sort of.  Actually it was a snowman.  It became a talisman for me … Get to the snowman.  And I did, minutes later, and quite heavy of foot.  I said hi and shook his little stick hand.  He was the only one around, and I was pretty sure he didn’t think I was crazy.  It was comforting to chat for a few minutes.  Then we said goodbye to each other and I plodded onward.

A long hill, complete with a few sections that touched my knees, had me thinking about mortality.  I had to stop every twenty steps or so to get my breath.  It reminded me of mountaineering movies I’ve seen where the climbers were making such slow and painful progress at high altitudes.  The St. Thomas Golf and Country Club is not exactly Everest, but I could relate.

I was exhausted, and Jody was there to help.  “You’re doing great, Bruce.  I’m proud of you.”  Thank you, my wife.  I plotted a route where I wouldn’t lose elevation as I aimed for the clubhouse parking lot.  Slow, slow, slow.  And then I saw some angels – footprints in the deep snow.  When I got to them, I noticed that the person’s boot size was pretty close to mine.  Yay.  And so I stumbled from hole to hole, thanking my newfound and currently absent friend for his or her generosity.

I made it.  Solid asphalt.  The winding road took me to the course entrance gate and back to civilization.  Thank you, Jodiette.  Thank you, the silence.  Thank you, winter wonderland.  You’re where I need to be.