On the way to bring my grandchildren home, I always pass the corner lot where an old man lives and tends his raspberry canes. “They’re looking good,” I say to the kids. “Yeah, they TASTE good,” my grandson says. “I don’t usually like raspberries, but he always lets us have some when I walk the dogs (Gussie, Shaggy, and Merlin (Labradors)), and they’re really sweet.”
“Why do you think he’s out there every afternoon?” I ask. I wonder if he’s a widower, as I never see anyone else around. He is so gentle with the canes. I almost hear him whispering to them.
“Because he likes raspberries,” the other young one in the back seat says. Why do I feel the sting of tears? Life can be so simple.
Last weekend, I was out cycling with women friends. The sky was blue, clouds piling up over the near mountain range. In the paceline, I turned my head. A midnight raven drafted the echelon. “Oh, Trickster,” I thought. “I’ve seen you before. You and your sister guarded the sacred cove on the remote northern British Columbia island when I surfed the waves up onto the midden beach in my kayak. I was wet, tired, and hungry. You didn’t fly away. I called the wolves from where I drank at the mossy stream in the shadow of the shaggy cedar totem poles. Suddenly, I was afraid as the pack streaked from the point towards me. I remember crashing through the brush, running wildly to the beach, jumping in my kayak, paddling offshore, my heart pounding. The wolves never came.
You tricksters laughed. I couldn’t paddle any further that day. I was cold, shakey-hungry, miles to go next day with the tides. I wondered, were you there, later, when the pack circled my tent in the moonlight, panting and sniffing. Did you shape-shift like coyote, watching?”
I watch an old man tend raspberries, a boy walk his dog, and the wheel of the rider in front of me.