August 2, 2008

Summer morning

I am out riding my bicycle on this summery morning on Cape Cod. It is going to be a hot one. So I am away early to beat the heat. Life is humming early here too as I pass the ponds and lakes along the bike trail. What I see is tradition holding and it is a rosy future.

At Fisherman's Landing, I stop to watch the gathering of families at the quiet lake. There are no motorized boats or watercraft, so the sounds I hear are the pure sounds of summer. The crows and mourning doves sing in concert. The cardinals and jays join in. But the real sounds of summer, that override even nature, are the splashing and squealing of the children at the shallow water's edge; the outright howl of a little one tossed by his father high into the air and free-falling with a crash into the deep cool lake.

Along the trail on my way to this stop, I had noticed a pine tree, scarred in the past year or two. Now the bark was closing over the wound. I think of this tree as my eyes roam over the forest surrounding the lake. It is in full deep August green, darkening and shadowing the woodsy floor beneath. Here is a forest of trees gathering up the life-giving sunshine and the evening showers and the morning fogs to grow and heal and leap ahead and upwards. They are mostly scrub pines and oaks now gathering their strength and healing their wounds, getting healthy and strong before the winter's freeze and spring's moths and cicadas who will come to feed on them.
This lakeside scene could be 1908 as easily as 2008. The grandmother, for that is what I take her to be, is seated on a beach chair in a dress, a baby at her side. The young married adults are busy. The father is in the lake tossing the little boy. The mother is laying out towels on the sandy beach, puling toys from a bag: a yellow shovel, a red pail, a blue rake. She glances over to her baby in the carrier next to the grandmother. At the water edge, an unoccupied inner tube awaits a playmate. Lolling, perhaps asleep, is a young girl on an inflated raft. Two young boys leap, all legs and arms, shouting, from a wood raft, landing one-two into the lake. A forest green canoe glides by, the elderly paddler is accompanied by a duck swimming alongside.
I think of the tree with its scab covering the hurt as I watch the little ones exuberant in the lake. They are without fears, without care. It is play, pure and simple. These young ones are the first generation born after 9-11. Perhaps they, for all of us---like that tree--are covering our wounds. Perhaps they will grow healed, without the memories or the fears of that morning we cannot forget.

I hear their squeals of delight. I hear the squeals of hope this summer morning.