Winds off the strait toss the tresses of weeping willow beside the drive while the crows gather again in the yard for their morning conversation here at Casa Cuervo. Wind arrives in waves not unlike the ocean, but with wind we live inside the waves, we breathe them. Waves of wind lift my hair tangling it like seaweed.
I want to write “I’m hoary with its chill,” feeling myself a flake of white, my hair tipped with frost. But I’m afraid the word is ruined by urban slang, and Wikipedia says it surely is. But the image will not leave my mind. A wintry woman, no longer willowy, traces a bony finger across the window glass.
If I hadn’t lost my camera I would capture that weeping willow’s dance. You’ll need to imagine it. Even in the oldest willow something new is dancing, bending, flowing in wind’s waves. Impromptu living. Beginner’s mind. This is how it is at Seventy. What do we know anymore? The wind makes it clear that we have not lived our lives to reach a fullness of knowing, but rather to reach the end of knowing’s possibilities. Then there is nothing but beginning. All life is impromptu.
Goals, when they exist, become short term and easy to revise. When at 92 Aunt Gertie ordered three mops so they would last at least ten years, we all smiled behind our hands. She almost got to her one-hundredth birthday, though, so her laughter probably rang all the way into eternity. What I’m trying to say, not all that well, is that life is very short. It moves along like wind. It’s beautiful and frightening and eerie and basically a mystery. The choices I’ve made to form it into something I could know, something contained enough to fit my brain, expanded into realities I could never have predicted. Every moment is the beginning of an unknown.
Here I am at the Cottage, Casa Cuervo, on the northwestern edge of the continent, with a man whom last May I did not know. Not for a moment did I plan this beginning at seventy. My goal was to live alone, continue writing, find ever closer connections with God, enjoy my friends when they felt happy and weep with them when they felt sorrow. A good goal. So why is it changing? Was it not challenging enough? Was it too challenging so that I would have found myself unable to live it alone? (Already I have signs I might have failed). Was “alone” simply a preparation for this next moment? Is this new moment that holds within itself this new person the beginning of a new and deeper unknowing?
The winds of age are blowing. The jeweler who was making our rings commented that they would last forever, and John laughed, saying that for us forever isn’t all that far away. We go for a walk down to the water. It’s already afternoon and even with the bursts of sunlight through clouds we feel the chill. Four Canada geese fly over. Last night we saw a Bald Eagle surveying the water from the top of a huge rock framed by a rainbow. My hair escapes both my cap and my jacket hood and whips against my eyes. I think of youth when I took it for granted that all my plans would work out, not knowing that we walk blind, at each moment beginning our journey into whatever future.
I turn and look at John. I take his hand.