Friday, May 20, 2005

Lune de Moi

The unsettled spring continues. Today was cool and almost still; the sunlight was filtered and flat, bright but veiled. Some gray clouds moved below a scrim of high haze. There was just enough wind to impart a sense of restlessness and distraction to the day. Or maybe I was projecting something inner onto the landscape.

I went walking, this morning, in the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary. I wanted to walk the trail loop beside the Charles River which I'd missed last time I visited. So I consulted the map and set out over the boardwalk by the marsh, stopping to watch the turtles and listen to birdcalls. Lily pads and arrow arum were emerging out of the bronze and green water

and out of Narcissus' watery, bog blogging forehead.

I got to thinking about contingency. About how I had come to be a woman who walks in the woods with a camera.

It's really quite odd. Aside from the hiking trips of the early years of my first marriage -- one of the few elements of that misbegotten union for which I am truly grateful -- I've spent most of my adulthood indoors. This spring I've seen lady's slippers and lilies of the valley for the first time in forty years.

It took a wreck to get me back outside. And that's where the contingency comes in. Pure, harrowing contingency. If I hadn't stopped to pee before I left the veterinarian. If I'd lingered a few more minutes over the bill. If I'd driven just a little faster or a little more slowly. If pony-tail man's friend had waited another thirty seconds before ringing up his cell phone. But the forces of the universe all converged at that split second to bring about the intersection of pony-tail man's pick-up and, ultimately, my second cervical vertebra.

Convalescing, able to do most everything but move my head, I started walking by the river. Then taking pictures.

So that's how that happened. As in hap.

Contingency takes me back even farther. To another collision. It's June of 1951, Montreal, my parents' lune de miel, during which (in the usual manner) there occurred the improbable intersection of one human oeuf and one out of a swarm of million sperme. What if one of the 999,999 unsuccessful contenders had won ? Where would I be then ?

Or back a few years before that: my Dad, an Army sargent, on patrol somewhere in Europe during the last days of the war. A sniper shoots. Hits him in the leg. What if the sniper had been a better shot ?

No Montreal, lune elsewhere, and certainly no miel.

And, of course, no moi.

Astonishing. And as deliciously, dizzyingly absurd as the Powershot's IMG_1952.jpg, iconically and coincidentally named for the year of my birth --

-- which condenses the morning's restless, milky sunlight into a familiar pair of eyes looking back at me from the dark, weedy swamp water.

The last two fruits at the bottom of everyone's cornucopia of contingency.

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