I don’t know if I arrived on time or the crows left on cue, but the crossroad of events involves some sort of synchronicity that defies reasoning. Reasoning is best left at home for such occasions; left for our clocks, laptops, and logical minds.
Children have a way of inventing reality that grownups have altogether lost. My six-year-old grandson finds adventures every day by constructing them from the fruits of his fertile mind. He uses cardboard boxes, recycled paper, and tape that he assembles with his imagination.
He recently left on a fishing trip in his pickup truck, arriving safely at his cabin “about 70 miles from home,” to go fishing for “big mama’s.” He prefaced all this with, “this is just pretend,” but went anyway, not wanting to miss the adventure.
We build the world with our imagination. We build the world given to us by our good fortune to be present at this very moment.
In the Mississippi Valley, we have good fortune come our way often, and we don’t need metaphor to give push to our imagination. “Fiscal cliffs,” from which we can only fall to our economic demise, give way to real cliffs from which the entire river valley opens below us like a finely-wrapped Christmas gift.
The Mississippi River enters right and exits left and we were meant to be here in between, witness to whatever the river brings our way.
Before and after the crows launched, two people entered my life, moving on the periphery where you take notice only if you are paying attention. A woman, bundled against the cold on a brisk Christmas shopping day, walks across a busy parking lot with head bowed, oblivious to everyone around her, looking down at the contents streaming from her smart phone.
A burly man, built for heavy lifting and hearty laughs, stands in the cold dressed only in a flannel shirt, head bowed and arms crossed, looking down at a freshly placed grave stone.
We have all done this. I have done both. One is a distraction, giving us electronic hints of what we are missing. The other is a reflection, giving us appreciation for what remains in this life for the taking.
They say, “Life is what you make it,” but give no instructions as to how to assemble the pieces. I think my grandson has it right. The pieces are all around us; cardboard boxes, paper, pencils, and tape. Family, friends, and extraordinary moments in Driftless Wisconsin.
After my walk up the hill, I came home at dusk, the path lost in the waning light. The crows were silent now, but another gift offered itself. Upturned leaves left in the wake of deer that frequent this trail were glistening in the moonlit night. My dog Riley and I followed them home.