Contrasts

leaf Aki and I need this walk through the rainforest in gentle rain. The little dog needs to again enjoy freedom of movement after her 8-day stay in a boarding kennel. She luxuriates in the spacious forest, woods quiet except for the far away tapping of a red-breasted sapsucker on a metal signpost. I need the calming softness of the grey light that diminishes the differences between forest greens. Yesterday, Aki’s other resident human and I flew back from Washington D.C., worn out by the stark contrasts in temperature, sound, sights, and even shadows like the straight edged ones the early afternoon sun threw at the feet of the town’s famous cherry trees. We sometimes walked in silence, unwilling to sustain the high volume speech needed to be heard over city buses, honking cars, and surrounding conversations. We wore raincoats against the cold in the morning and were encumbered by them during the heat of the day. river There were contrasts in emotion too, positive (produced by time with family and friends and from attending a wedding in Richmond, Virginia) and negative (from trying to ignore street poverty). There was the reaffirmation of the universal good by various African-American strangers who showed us nothing but helpful kindness when we were lost. island Just before Aki and I leave the rainforest for the beach with its view of Shaman Island, I think of the off duty city bus driver who broke off his conversation about child support woes to help us find the Richmond train station; of how I offered him the respect expected in Southeast Alaska by standing quietly as he talked to a friend in an almost foreign dialect; of how he spoke as if he had nothing to hide; of how he drew a small breath before saying, “How can I help you sir?”

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