I have always said that God is in the details and as such I have spent most of my walks with Duncan searching out the tiniest details of the world. I say most because there are times, like last night when it was freezing and it was time for bed and I didn't feel like standing in the snow, that I don't pay attention and simply focus on getting out and back in as quickly as possible. But the rest of our walks together are spent with my eyes seeking out the little-something-extras that make life extraordinary. Sometimes Duncan leads me to them but sometimes, when he wanders off to tend to business or to sniff the tall grass sprouting up beside a tree stump, I can pause and simply witness the world being the world. And when I have a chance to do that the most wondrous things allow themselves to be discovered.
Last summer was disastrous for the trees at the park. The irrigation system is old and poorly managed and several of the larger fields found themselves under water for most of the season. It was so bad our usual collection of late-night Ultimate players were nowhere to be found and so Dunc and I didn't get to enjoy their glowing discs spinning through the darkness or the coordinated calls of the kids running back and forth. Several of the trees got sick and withered. The leaves curled and browned by the end of June and a rank odor rose up from the bog that grew up along the edge of the bigger soccer field. The grounds crew were forced to cut eleven of them down, most several decades old, tall and wind-weathered, their bark shaped and mottled with character. A few were left standing as knee-high stumps and this morning, while the sun was still up and before the afternoon clouds set in, Duncan ventured among them, leaving his calling card as he passed. Someone had peeled the outer layer of bark off them, exposing the smooth inner bark, soft and lustrous. I spent several minutes running my fingers over them, watching the ants crawl among their cracks, listening to the crows in the elms craw at me impatiently. The traffic seemed to die down and for a long while the park was silent, which is the best way to experience it. No cars, no shouts from the skateboarders, no sirens or wind. Just perfect silence. The kind the trees loves. A detail that nourishes the spirit.