A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts

Up after another too-short night, made shorter by a cold smothering shut my sinuses. This is a morning for tea.

A mug of green with honey – my mug from Tirzah that calls me “aunt” in German, so near to what I go by with my treasured baby nephew. I don’t like the taste ohne Zucker (without sugar), but this is better for my condition, so I endure, knowing better is to follow.

A pot of loose-leaf – Tirzah’s pot from me. It pours out prettily pink and smelling of almond cookies – or, I joke, of cyanide. A momentary smile for pleasant thoughts of murder.

We take to the couch and light a rose incense stick, standing upright in a mug of its own. My NaNoWriMo mug, a had-to-have purchase for the minstrel-esque muse on the side.

The flame burns down, the smoke curls up – drifts and dances and hangs in the air. It appears as a magic fog, or perhaps like a soul’s departure. Wouldn’t it be a sight to burn such a stick in an open casket at a wake?

Sitting and sipping. Character chatting. Bracing our spirits for household chores done in a blink. Time for a walk.

* * *

Patches of clean, airy blue peek through the overcast sky. A sprinkle of rain, there and then gone, though the ever-changing clouds remain.

Scarlet gestures at the world before us. “You’d think it’d be gloomy, but it’s not.”

Sy’s head shakes in agreement. “Too bright through the gray, and the ground too green.”

Variegated greens and browns and purples. Always purples, like the work of a character – (none of you have yet met him; let’s call him Gilbert, since it’s his name) – who makes art through me, some nights. I don’t much care for the current coloring book fad, but his artist’s vision sees the possibilities in the pigmented pencils and the blanks between the lines. With my hand, he’s managed masterpieces. And with his eyes, we walk and see the subtleties of wood and leaf and sky. We joke that it’s nature imitating his art, but really, Gilbert just does beauty like God.

(Samples of Gilbert’s work)

* * *

We choose the road not taken. With so many paths running like veins between villages, we can easily find a new walk every time. We cross the street, then cross a field, nestled half-wild in the hills.

A cloud of birds rises in unison, then – for no reason we know – divides in two. Bigger, blacker, crows or ravens hop and flap and hoarsely caw. We’ve seen then form clouds, too, some evenings, filling the sky like some strange omen. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a corvid perched upon a branch or roof. It’s their town; we’re just living in it.

Shaggy horses stand a fence away – majestic as lions, with the sturdy nobility of dwarves. We unofficially name the black ones Thorin Oakenshield. We exchange greetings with a Thorin as we pass, blowing at his nostrils while he politely sniffs.

“A pleasure making your acquaintance,” we say in parting.

A gracious bow of his great head. “The pleasure was mine.”

Such a gentleman. (Assuming he was male.) Nothing like the horses just up the road from our house, who always glare as we pass like we’re bringing down the neighborhood.

* * *

The paths curve up, down, and around. We take the forks that most appeal to our whims. Some days, some walks, the paths are busy, full of people, their bikes, their children, their dogs. But today, we are blessedly alone – just two girls and their closest imaginary friends.

We head further into the unknown, never fretting that we’ll truly lose our way. Tirzah’s smartphone aside, all roads eventually lead to another road big enough that there will be signage. Unfettered by fear, we wander freely. Unbothered by rain, we ramble on. Unheated by the further cooling of the air, we’re not sorry to find ourselves on the path back home.

Back on the familiar side of the street. Back to the neighborhood horses whose stares seem almost tolerant today. Back to warmth, the riddance of wet boots, and hot cocoa – salted caramel, and just the ticket to tide us over ‘til dinner’s been made.

We’re startled to realize (and equally pleased): This has been a really good day, all through. Mugs raised in a toast of contentment, all the sweeter for the knowledge that it cannot last forever.

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