Friday, July 27, 2007

Nelson's Friends

(In deference to Lee Strong’s piece “Gratitude” it was good that he reminded us of the joy of singular graces. It also inspired me to finish this story.)

When the wind rushes head long into the trees Nelson Doolittle stretches his ears, closes his eyes, and watches his mind scramble a frenetic dance in an effort to put a handle on this newly created sound.

It is the sound of the ocean 100 giant steps behind Aunt Rose’s summer cottage.
“Mother may I?”
“Yes, you may.”

It is a sound that when he hears it, from indoors, makes him peek out the window expecting to see rain landing on the sidewalk. It is a sound that always surprises him. It is a sound he grew up with, always familiar but always different, so that whenever he hears it he always has to look around to reaffirm its source. This sound is not of the present but one that always sings of past experiences. It is the sound dinosaurs made on their way to extinction.

Even the birds stop their musings when the wind and leaves raise their voices as one. In the soft breeze it is the sound of satin petty coats worn by little girls walking the isle to First Communion. In a sudden gust it is the sound of the veil of the temple being torn in two. It is the echo of a soul decrying, "Certainly this man was innocent."

On hot summer days it is the sound of a thousand wood sprites laughing as if they finally got the joke. In the fall it is the sound his grandmother made busily preparing Thanksgiving dinner. It is a sound that always makes Nelson smile.

It is a sound that never sits still long enough to truly capture or firmly attach a label to, like the love he harbors for his children.

Whenever his wife talks about cutting down the two big maples in the back yard he always changes the subject, or speaks of the benefits of shade on the utility bills, he never just tells her no.

He would like to tell her the real reason, that the trees sing to him, that they carry him up into their arms and tell him stories. If he did that, Nelson knew, she would look up at him through lowered eyebrows and say, “You’re full of crap,” and the trees would be gone.

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