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Mack Williams: A rebuilding walk

Mack Williams

With unseasonal temperatures abounding, I went “abounding” (walking, still with cane), gradually building stamina for returning to work in late March from my January 16th left hip replacement.
My “jumping off” spot was the butterfly garden at my museum workplace. I went inside for an “off-season” visit, basically, a hibernating garden, dead leaves, scattered remnants of butterfly wings, and bud-less trees, recent warmth not enough to coax buds out. Tree sap, like lake, stream, and pond water, is still cold here.
I then headed to the Dan River Walk Trail foot bridge (train trestle re-fitted for feet), stepping around glass from a smashed ATM conveniently placed (someone thought it conveniently placed for another purpose).
A sidewalk there, like all sidewalks, is in sections. The first section contained a single daffodil, pressed by walkers from three to two dimensions, its surviving color making it resemble a painting.
I thought of the painted look of a fossil maple leaf on shale in my fossil collection. It was made by great pressures within the earth, not by the tramping of walkers and runners wearing New Balance. I imagined those sidewalk sections being folded, book-like, with that little daffodil slipped between those concrete “pages” like sentimental floral mementos of graduation, wedding, or funeral pressed in a book.
I saw only a few dedicatory “lover’s locks” padlocked to the bridge’s chain-link sides, seemingly less of them than last year. Perhaps some relationships are just not working out; or maybe Public Works regularly retires some to prevent this bridge falling prey to the fate of that encumbered dedicatory bridge in France a few years back, in other words: collapsing.
I saw a large sand bar deposited mid-river, elevation above river level appearing over three feet. Either the river was down or deposition was up, and I wondered about global warming, but that’s about sea water, not river water. The sand bar’s summit contained ducks, geese, their respective tracks, and great number of fecal droppings. Hordes of lowly mollusk shells occupied their place at water’s edge (in the “class struggle” of vertebrate and invertebrate, the invertebrate is still seen as “low class,” except at a shrimp-fest or clam bake (with beer).
I saw an unusual segmented log in the distance, each segment of equal length. I thought of the great “segmented” tree-sized, horse tail rush (Calamites) of the Devonian Period; but since this is 2018, not 400 million years ago, I looked again! Each “segment” was a foot-long, yellow-bellied slider turtle, about a dozen of them lined up on a log, sunning in the unusually warm temperatures. My walking was rehabbing my left hip; and these turtles were being rehabbed from hibernation by the warm days!
Yellow-bellied sliders and eastern painted turtles, amicably lined up side-by-side, were an example of “turtle diversity;” if only they’re sentient enough to appreciate it.
I called a young walker over to see the turtles. She took off her headphones, and while we talked and looked, I found myself wishing the silent turtles made sounds to entertain her uncovered ears, since I had interrupted her music listening.
I later heard the sound of “frog sex” — well, actually frog mating calls. I don’t think anybody really wants to hear the sound of frog sex! I imagine it to be a somewhat “squishy” sound, gentler than that “splat” made by the unfortunate toad hurled against a tree by John Goodman’s character in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” (2001), and “happier” sounding too!
Just now, the music with lyric “I’ll keep holdin’ on” from Simply Red’s song “Holding Back the Years” (1985), is going through my mind. And the phrase “holdin’ on” describes the majority of “groping” going on in frog sex; just Google and you’ll see (Google “frog reproduction,” not “holdin’ on.”)
Looking down from the bridge to the extended walk trail, I saw walk-runners proceeding with perfect posture, while swans and geese walked with heads held high on perpendicular necks (when did you ever see a slouching swan?).
Walking back across the bridge, I encountered walk-run ladies who smelled of perfume and walk-run men, smelling of cologne. No one really wants to smell (adjective meaning).
Some people I knew said: “Where have you been?” to which I replied “Under the knife, and saw!” Warm weather was bringing warm faces and warm wishes my way.
Just before leaving the bridge, I took a last “water-wards” look and even thought I saw the glint of a supportive glance (by nature, a cold one) from a slider, his “turtle-necked” head turned my way.

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