I’m no longer taken in by sunshine, warmth, clarity.

When I woke up this morning and walked Smalldaughter to the bus stop, I wasn’t fooled by the blue-skied view that seemed to stretch from the middle of my muddled morning mind all the way to the white-crested mountain range adorning the peninsula across the Big Water.  The clouds always close in soon enough in my climate, leaving me limping dribbly wobbly through grey confuzzlement, wrapped in damp wool, keeping clam as the old digger put it.

There are clues enough.  Sometimes a rising resentment, attached to nothing in particular, tries to warn me that I’ll soon be stomping through the dark drizzle, beating a barely controlled path through my instant future, planless and underprepared and warmed only by smoldering anger.  Because I frequently miss these cues, I have to interpret the hesitant side glances of people around me in order to try to push away imminent betrayal of all the hearts:  theirs, mine, maybe a stranger conveniently annoying me at just the right moment.  In that red space — that cold place — my body forgets its pains to scan for targets and I rush out into the night to look for them outside the house, inside my heart, beside my useless, sidelined brain.

There are no pills for that ache.

The other clues are easier, bright-lit and almost cheerful.  Forty-six steps toward this morning’s bus stop, my left ankle — the arthritic canary in this dank mineshaft — ignoring brilliant sunshine and the joy-drenched calls of ignorant birds, jabbed me hard enough for sharp intake of breath and a tiny hobble, covered up before Smalldaughter could notice that her provider of uppies was gimping again.  The back, knees, neck come later, piling on their incessant gabbling gripes, but the bolted-up left ankle is my reliable reporter and always gives me the first heads-up that it’s time to put up the shovels leaning optimistically against the garden fence, make sure the bikes are covered, bring in some kindles and tarp the woodpile again.

I won’t pay for pain; that’s not my kink.  But G-D knows there’s value in it, lessons unavailable in books.

Nothing sweetens the morning like that first clue that the warm wind is pulling a furry, grey, piddle-soaked tail that will dampen our door before the day is out.  In this part of the world, sunshine is as ephemeral as rain is eternal.  We learn to savor the clarity of sunbreaks, revel in the panchromatic detailing of spring before the rain kneads and blends it into smooth dark mush and turns the happy whiz of passing cars into sullen wet sizzle.  When that peripheral meteorological conscience sinks its piranha teeth into my Achilles tendon, I take a perverse joy in the reminder:  look now.  Drink it in.  Laugh with children, romp with dogs, hold hands in the springtime sun.

In construction engineering, timelines for action each stop at a dark little symbol.  This practice is called “tombstoning,” an accurate description.  Good things happened today before the rain fell, maybe one or two more good things than I would have accomplished without that friendly reminder.

For now, my reminders can be soothed by ibuprofen, the fireplace, puppy nuzzles and my wife’s warm smile.  For now, those cranky aches just remind me that I’m still alive — and to do something with that.

For now is a good time.  I appreciate the reminders.

Tucker Dog



  1. Not that I needed a reminder right at this moment to savor what I’ve got… but I may have to bookmark this one to come back to later.

    • Ummm, yeah. One momentary lapse of reason – and a thoroughly busted port wing and booted off behind paw – later, and I fulfill my own prophecy. Damn apropos timing on the re-post….

  2. Loved this.
    Great writing with so many recognizable cues to one’s (i.e. my) daily journeys.
    John TransAlp Israel

  3. ibuprofen is definitely the best OTC painkiller for me. It helps me a lot to deal with my muscular pain.`:;

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