I went out for a walk around my neighborhood lake tonight. The sun was low in the sky, a brilliant orange ball with blurred, reaching edges. I enjoy these evening walks, when dinner has been forked and knifed and our bellies are full and happy. The air smells of sweet chamomile and crisp fennel, and there is always so much to see. First, the fire flies start popping and zipping their sulfur yellow blips along the grassy edge of the path. Then a young girl walks by, her mom and a bicycle under each arm. Her mom gestures for her to get on. It’s time to learn to ride. The little girl whimpers and protests at first. They wait until I pass them and a few minutes later I hear elated screams and the sound of pounding feet as the mother runs behind the daughter down the hill, up the curve and out of sight.
Sometimes, there is a hot air balloon making sinusoidal curves in the sky. Bright arcs of color made by thick, patchwork looking material. It threatens to land in someone’s backyard, a Minnesota “drop in” in its truest form. Tonight there is no hot air balloon. Instead, there is a giant billboard that lines the highway just north of the lake. On the billboard is a giant butt, its three-story plumber’s crack dividing the sign in half. “Cover your butt, get a colonoscopy” greets the drivers as they head downtown.
There are two, twenty-something girls strolling slowly around the lake path. I meet them on the backward edge (can there be a backside to a giant loop?) and their talk of boys and dates and the latest in their lives reaches me before I walk past. They give me sly smiles and swirl the red punch in their white, plastic cups and meander slowly on.
Then it’s my turn to pass the fishermen. They lurk in the bushes at the edge of the lake; their camouflaged positions outed by the deep grooves they have worn in their off-road path to the water’s edge. Always, they are suspicious of those that pass above their heads. They should know I won’t trouble them for their “fresh” catch from the man made lake.
I turn into the last edge of the loop and it leads me away from the lake and toward an outcropping of apartment buildings that line this stretch of wildflowers and succulent grasses. There is a cat who makes this area his home. The cat’s name is Chicken. His collar gives his name and told us once that there was a warm house nearby that expected him. He politely protested then, when JG picked him up and tried to wrest him in the right direction. We were so sure that his owner would be relieved to have him home again. Turned out that Chicken knew better than us. “He is an indoor-outdoor cat,” his owner let us know when we knocked at 211 on a Monday evening. “So, thank you, but he’s okay outside.” And every time I’ve passed that spot since, I call for Chicken, but he never shows.