Sunday, April 7, 2013

A swallow in springtime

I like riding my bicycle outside in nature. I do it a fair amount; it becomes like meditation.

The other person just asked am I a person of faith? We are leaving the sauna. The door is open, revealing the golden hills of Little Panoche Valley in the morning sun.

Not traditional faith, I say. No dogma. He hands me a DVD that looks homemade. When he was so stricken he could not move at all an angel came to him. He's sharing the story with people who might be in pain.

When I first opened the door and saw him lying on a bench, my first thought was he might know something about the subject. His torso was rigid, only his arms were moving. His neck bent forward, keeping his head from relaxing against the wood. Even lying on his back he had that conscious, tense look of someone no longer comfortable in his own body.

Then he began to talk and his words were measured, carefully chosen, intelligent. They put me at ease. He had been a biostatistician at Loma Linda University. It was a severe type of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis. The disease was getting past the point of pain.

I mention my neck which despite two soaks and a sauna is still cranky. I leave out the part about brain injury because technically, my brain does not hurt. There is just stuff it quietly does not do.

We shake hands. Time to head back to the house, finish packing up.

Across the open grasslands birds are frolicking and singing for their lives. A small grey swallow rides the air above the bath house and beyond. Her path is a series of arcs, waves she creates by quickly shoving down wings and then holding them against her body. After a wingbeat she climbs upward an amount that is exactly proportional to the force applied. At the high point she gives a short burst of song, then descends and rises again.

It's not about territory or food or predators. She is flying because she can.

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