It comes upon you by stealth. A moment that stops you and everything drops away except that thing which has arrested your attention. It doesn’t last long, but long enough to last. Let me explain.
It was the 4th of July. We’d been invited to spend the day at the lake with our youngest son and his family. We stay on into the night, too, because there are fireworks out over the water; so beautiful and fun to watch. The kids love it. But it had been a stressful day for Heather and our littlest granddaughter was acting up. Pow! Bam! Boom! “Look at this one, Grandma,” from Sam, our only grandson. Of course I looked, but out of the corner of my eye I saw Heather grab the baby and take her up the stairs and into the house. I hoped she wasn’t anxious or upset and that Sierra would settle. Right before the last Pow! I got up ahead of everyone else to go to her aid and halfway up the stairs I saw them through the warm glow of the long living room window. Sierra sat at her little plastic table munching Cheerios enjoying a cartoon show as calm as could be. Heather was tidying up the kitchen. Everything slowed down for a beat as I watched them in their brief respite, knowing it would be shattered soon enough by me and the six or eight people clattering along behind me. The picture in my mind remains.
I was getting gas, standing at the pump wondering if there was any good mail waiting at the post office, my next stop. I was at the Stewart’s Shop on Route 9. I was about to put the cap on the gas tank when a man darted out of the shop door. Very ordinary looking guy in jeans and a plaid shirt. Fifty maybe. He clutched a bouquet of flowers in his hand, convenient store flowers, the kind in a white paper sleeve that are mostly daisies and carnations. He hurried past to his car, full of purpose. I snapped shut the gas cap door and smiled, wondering who the lucky person was he’d bought them for. I hoped she would love them and him for thinking of her in the middle of the day like that.
This past weekend three of our guys, Carl, Eric and John, were roofing. Carl and Heather's house needed it badly and they were pooped as they hauled through the front door for lunch. I’d grabbed some subs at the deli and ran them over along with some fat red seedless grapes I’d picked up from the grocery store. The guys washed up and plopped down to eat. The chair I sat in allowed me a view of the lake. As we finished up Heather gazed past me to the water.
“Look at the ducks,” she said. Carl and I turned towards the sliding glass door and saw them nearing the dock.
“Wood ducks,” he said. “They’re amazing. They go ten or fifteen feet down sometimes looking for food.”
No sooner had he said it than ten little iridescent heads went down, their bottoms came up and in no time they’d gone under. I was reminded of Olympic sychronized swimmers. In a few seconds you’d never have known they'd been there at all. The surface of the water was instantly calm again, dappled with drifting autumn leaves. What a welcome distraction from the day's weary task.
We all have moments in our lives like this. You do. I do. It comes upon us by stealth, but gives a moment in the day that surprises. Brief, compelling and oddly wonderful.
Image: "dan" Free Digital Photos