Monday, July 29, 2013

The Dream Coordinator

At the office, an old lady stood on the porch, pocketbook tucked under her arm. Chelsea unlocked the door and the woman tottered in on a cane, wearing opaque stockings and old lady heels that squeezed her swollen ankles.

She leaned on the counter. "Do you recognize me?"

"I think so," said Chelsea, shrinking from her stare.

"Yes...We need to talk." The old lady opened her purse and rummaged around inside. She presented a business card. It looked like it had been floating in a gutter somewhere, and it said:

Mildred McNulty
Dream Coordinator
Hwy. 73 & Little Cub Creek

Could it be the same Mildred McNulty from all those years ago? Oh, crap.

"Could we talk privately?" asked Mildred McNulty.

Chelsea looked up and noticed Ted leaning on the counter, watching their conversation with interest.

"Unless you want..." Mildred McNulty glanced at the stitching on his Nomex coveralls, "Ted, here, to hear about the dream you had about him the other night?"

Chelsea flushed, and so did Ted. She said: "I didn’t have a d–"

Mildred McNulty turned to Ted: "The two of you were having a romantic picnic in a sunny meadow. It was sentimental, not my style, but to each his own. And Chelsea here rested her head on your beating heart and said--"

"I don’t think this is necessary," said Chelsea.

"I want to hear about the dream," said Ted.

"I waited for hours for you. Didn’t you get my message?" the old lady asked.

"I don’t know."

"Did you know that you have your Grandmother Coxheart’s glare, and the crease between the eyes? Very intimidating. And, of course, you do have her talent. These things often skip a generation."

"Talent for what?" said Ted.

"Wouldn’t you like to know," said Mildred McNulty.

Then Chelsea heard Ted’s cell vibrate. He fumbled it out of his breast pocket, waved to Chelsea and swished out the door, mumbling.

"Have you been getting the paper?" the old lady asked Chelsea. "Reading the "Sheriff’s Calls?"

Chelsea grasped Mildred McNulty’s tiny elbow. "Thank you for visiting. I’ll show you out."

"But we haven’t talked properly."

"I’m awfully busy. Maybe some other time." She led the old lady toward the door.

"What time works for you?"


"I’ll tell you what: we’ll wait at The Little Cub until you come."
Chelsea thought: We? "Sure," she said. "Yes, maybe I'll come." They reached the door.
The old lady tapped her silver-headed cane on the floor, looked up into Chelsea's face and whispered: "This is important. I need you to help me fight the nightmares."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

God's Dog

"According to the Kato Indians of California, the god Nagaicho created the world. First he erected the four great pillars at the corners of the sky to hold it up and to expose the earth. Then he began a casual stroll around this new world and proceeded to create the things to fill it. The myth specifies how man and women were made of earth, how the creeks and rivers were made by Nagaicho's dragging feet, how each animal was made and placed in its proper spot in the world--each animal, that is, except the dog. Nowhere in the story is there any mention of Nagaicho, the creator, creating the dog. Rather, when Nagaicho first started on his walk, he took a dog with him: God already had a dog."
Stanley Coren, The Intelligence of Dogs, pp.17-18

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What is a Moment?

Bristlecone pines can live for five thousand years. Imagine what they learn in their long, slow lives. Different things from us, perhaps. Bigger things.
Do they even register us as we pass, or are we invisible to them, blurry in our rush from one moment to the next?
If we could slow down enough to really listen, what would they teach us? Would they say that tomorrow and yesterday don't matter, that only the moment is important? Or is that the message of a fast-living creature, an ant or a hummingbird?
Perhaps they would tell us that yesterday and tomorrow are one, a single pause between breaths. And as much as things seem to change, they are eternal.
And having lived so long, is the tree afraid to die? Or has it grown to know the world so well that it feels no separation: its roots burrow into the soil and its branches twist into the sky, and it is a conduit of sunshine from heavens to earth.
And perhaps the bristlecone knows that is enough. More than enough. It is everything.
Here is a link to Ken and Laurie's wonderful recording of Bristlecone Pine which made me cry.