another morning grows out of darkness, washing the plains and trees, scattered buildings, in the brightness of a new day. another morning dawns like any other. another morning spent driving in an aging car, rotted by rust, emitting squeaks and cracking rattles for the flowing fields and the sky to hear. he keeps the windows up for such a warm day, uncharacteristically, for he can’t stand the wind whipping his long hair around in his face at such speeds. but he blasts his favorite – rich mullins – just the same, singing loud along with every song. again he is awed by the creativity, the beautiful words with such beautiful music, an incredible marriage of sounds, perfectly pieced together. and again he wishes for such power as to be able to weave together songs like these. he has tried before, but not in some time, his attempts always seeming flat and uninspired, though truly he knows how nature can move him. oh well. these gifts were better used with others. maybe there will be other things i will excel in, he thinks with a smile. he strains his voice in song and no one hears the cracks.
the ride with wonderful music over slow rises and past huddled trees with his favorite songs has set a great mood for the morning. the music continues in his head, setting the pace for the work he now sets his hands to. the power washer gives him immense authority over stains and grime and the driveway and front walk are being scrubbed clean; the change is intensely visible. and he thinks his thoughts, and plans his plans.
she stands with her group and presents on things nearly no one listens to. even the professor seems to be drugged by listlessness. the presentation ends with no problems. the day continues like any other.
hours later, bare feet splattered with mud, pants soaked in spray, he packs things together, prepares to leave and prepare himself. his mind is a flurry of a million happy things; songs, prayers, and plans grow and rise together. he lets rich mullins again guide him down the long roads.
he stops by work and grabs a hamburger, freshly brewed by his friend who prays for him before he rushes off. the day increases in brightness and warmth. he stops by a store and buys three apples. he stops by home to change his clothes and take the bike west to meet her. he practices words and actions. the prayers continue. the day is becoming less normal.
but she has a had a normal day of school, looking forward to a normal little adventure with her friend of friends. they will ride to the nearby corner of preserved forest for some needed time in nature, at least what nature the university hasn’t fenced off for study, depriving the populace from the wonders of the forest. she may not be as bitter about this as she know he is.
he arrives, they talk, hang out. all is well. all is as it should be. nothing new, nothing bad, just them as they always are. which is in no way a terrible thing. in fact, both would say it is one of their favorite things. eventually they climb aboard their bikes to ride the few miles to the wooded park. this is the perfect day for it, as the clouds steer clear of the sun, try not to block our view of the sky. it has been raining almost constantly for the last couple of weeks. finally, he thinks, as they cruise towards his favorite place in town.
the forest greets them with more water than ever was expected. ponds that were once small have grown and swelled in the recent rains to encompass much, hiding the bases of trees and fallen logs, making marshes of places once dry. he is excited by this new thing and takes many happy pictures. they walk safe on a boardwalk loop over the new swamp. hands entwined. they see strange bugs, dozens of mysterious birds, all gathered around them, endless animal tracks in the soggy earth. down paths and over bridges they walk, enjoying the warm day, the surroundings, the good conversation.
but there is much that is underwater, places they did not expect to be so. in a farther corner of the woods every way ahead is swamped. backtracking with take them well away from their chosen destination, as well as still leading them to flooded areas. so he decides on something. his shoes leave his feet, and his socks soon follow. pants are rolled up. wait here, he tells her, i will test it out. what if you sink in? she asks. he smiles. either i will or i won’t.
pushing bushes aside with hands, his feet feel themselves alive, endlessly joyful at being free in the dirt and mud again, he wades into the pond. all will work. she takes his shoes in her hands, his pack on her back. she climbs up and he carries her on his back through the swamp. she can only imagine how happy this makes him. he can only imagine how this makes her feel. but he is glad to walk barefoot through the swamp. it was unplanned. he is glad he gets to play the hero. it will make what comes later even better. his smile stays, grows.
he covers not his feet again. the day is becoming ever less ordinary. talking about how great that just was, they walk their way to an old sort of dock over a swampy pond area, secluded from other frequented paths. their own tiny world. geese and their new children swim by. they take it in, all the glory and splendor of the outdoors. even if it is just one little corner in this wide world of cornfields they are both thankful for it. very much so.
he asks if she would like to sit down. she says yes, that would be ok. they sit and he opens his bag. silent prayers continue. he hands her gifts from a friend for easter. he had forgotten them before, but they reappeared in his memory just in time to add to his plans. very fortuitous. one thing, then another, and one last thing. he asks if she is hungry; he has an apple. she is hungry, and agrees to the fruit. his hand is held out, a beautiful granny smith apple cupped lightly, a gift to a great friend. she reaches, takes the apple. but then a curious thing happens. something else lies in the palm of his hand. it takes a second for her brain to register what is happening. it is a little ring she sees, a blue square stone flanked by clear triangles, all set in shining silver gleam. as in a dream, he takes the ring from the palm of his hand and sinks to one knee………..