All mixed up


Yesterday on the way to visit my husband, I took a break by the Willamette River at a little park near Albany. It was a warm day with soft clouds warning of the rain to come. I found a flat rock at the edge of the river and stared out at the green water. It looked so clear and soothing I wanted to dive in, but the sign said “no swimming.” I forced myself to sit still for awhile and simply look.

I had been fighting a headache all morning, my psyche all squinched up with worries about Fred, money, home repairs, upcoming deadlines, my overwhelming dogs, winter on the way. Too much, too much. I needed to relax before I walked into the nursing home.

So I stared at the water. Such a soft, easy current rolling past, lapping at my feet. Quiet. Out of nowhere, a bird rose up, crossed the river and disappeared into the trees. I saw flashes of black and white, heard a song I didn’t recognize. Magpie? Perhaps. A few minutes later, the roar of a motorboat broke the stillness, rousting a giant bird. At first I thought it was a great blue heron, but it wasn’t blue; its feathers were purplish black. It flew north up the river right past me, its neck stuck out straight, its wings slowly flapping and gliding. A duck. It slowly flew into the pines, leaving me on my rock in the midday silence.

At that point, I decided to move to the Valley, where I could visit the river often and be closer to Fred and potential work. I could rent out my big coastal house and find someplace small in Corvallis or Albany. I would have to give up my dogs, but perhaps that was the logical thing to do. Later, when I looked through the local paper and found two reporter job openings, I thought it was all meant to be. I would start fresh in the Valley.

But back here on the coast this morning, I’m not so sure. Last night I got another music gig and this morning, I have another potential editing job. Would I be giving up too soon? Should I keep freelancing or go for the job, stay here or move east? Is God just toying with me?

Last night I heard the sweet autumn rain washing the dust off the leaves, nourishing the browning lawns. I snuggled deep into my covers and dreamed myself into another world.

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Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, and Childless by Marriage. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I teach writing workshops and offer individual editing and mentoring. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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