Musings of the Forensic Anthropologist

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On the ground this morning there was a light dusting of snow.  It wasn't enough to fully cover the ground, just enough to entice the dog to roll in it, as from the Spruce trees, the squirrels hovered, waiting for that handful of peanuts I would toss out every morning.  On such mornings, when I first awoke, I can't imagine that it is actually Spring, the landscape having the stillness of an unyielding force pondering a secret motive.

The kitchen still smelled faintly of sweet and spice, my having baked a dozen banana chocolate chip muffins late last evening for my husband to take to work to share with his team. The house itself was quiet, the work computer still, my not having to log in for another hour. The morning chores were tended to, the dog fed and walked, the bird feeders filled, as was the water dish we leave out for the creatures that live among the tall stand of Spruce trees.  Lunch was made and packed, the muffins corralled and wrapped, small daily moments that removed me from reality and let my mind go back to other landscapes, other mornings.

I will miss the mornings where the ground is covered with thick white, the blanket of white hushing the sound of traffic. For others and certainly for me, in such moments, as you step out into the hushed cold, you can almost imagine you are in a place other than a bustling city, your mind taking you back to days on open land where corn rioted and stands of tall trees stood as kings over their subjects of deer and wildlife.  You were yourself a quiet subject, there up high in a tree blind, Winchester in your lap, bewitched and cut off from worry and hurry and fear, those things that seem to belong to another world.
In another tree, far enough away to be out of range, yet close enough you are always aware, is another form, a friend, perhaps a brother, waiting in the same still silence as you are.  In such a place memories of the past come unbidden, there in those moments when you both have nothing but time for the past to creep in.  But it does so as wishful dreams, remembered there in that place of land, water, and silence.

The sound of a siren from the first accident or serious illness of the day, takes me from my musings, reminding me that indeed I am in the city, and it's waking up quickly around me. The siren sound is one that haunts my dreams sometimes even though normally when I am in the company of such a vehicle it is moving away in stony silence, the only sound that of tires reverberating in holly claps as they kick up gravel from a place where lay only the memories of those too late to be saved, their only voice a cluster of little yellow flags upon the ground.
I have fought with death and found that it's not always so much a battle, of victor and vanquished, with cries and shouts.  Often, it is a quietly grey surprise where are no more sure of your right than you are of your foe and if you stand too still you may be gone before you even feel the ground give way and the air collapse onto itself.  I  often wonder what the end will really be like. Is there that moment when you see your fate, when every detail of desire, temptation, surrender, and redemption fill your vision or is the moment gone with the cessation of light, there at that moment you don't have time to even comprehend?

So far, as I have walked such places, the dead have not revealed their secret, something for which I should probably be grateful.

As the siren fades away, I briefly look at the news, seeing it as not mere words today, but rather the sound of drums, of peace, or war, or prayer, I don't know.  Such are the days, I'd just as soon write, having no desire to further scan the computer for news, or social media of strangers, growing tired of how unkindly the world is of things it fails to understand.  As a scientist, I'd like to live in a world of straightforward facts, but the feeling is short-lived as soon as I look at the media. No, I drop a few notes to friends, then a look at the weather, as I settle in to write as the sun comes up.
I relish these early hours when the neighborhood slumbers and fires burned low.  My husband has left for a meeting, wrangling coffee thermos, lunch bag, and muffins in the high wind like a Sherpa headed aloft. For now, my only company is the shadows, lying broken along the neighbor's flowerbeds that I can see from my window.  From the outside, the bracing sound of a wind chime, the snap of a twig, as from inside, words, slowly flow, words that gather in channels in my head, pooling in still pools, rushing as a fresh flow, taking me further and further downstream of the reality outside that is traffic, deadlines, or simply the dead.

I have no story today, merely words of observance, of the surface truths in the world outside my window.
There underneath that light mantle of snow came forth a yellow flower, a small ray of light there in the cold, a lower apostle giving me hope that warmth would soon blanket this landscape, even as the cold wind gives a lie to its prophecy.

Although I honestly love the Fall and Winter over the heat of summer, there is something transfixing about watching the earth bloom each Spring. It's nothing like the mornings of winter, the sky brooding over the earth, becoming more somber by the minute, as if irritated by your attempt to stay warm.  Spring is more like a lover, coaxing from the ground new life, as it touches everything with shy wonder, that is as new now as it was this time last year. Even as there is snow on the ground, the sun peeks out behind a cloud with exquisite brilliance.
As the sun illuminates the landscape I see further signs of Spring -  a child's bike left out in the yard from an afternoon where temperatures hovered around 60; some potting soil and pots, laying against another neighbor's garage, awaiting that time when new flowers will be planted. The birdfeeders that are normally an active trough in the morning are mostly deserted as the bird's natural food sources begin their yearly cycle again.

The sun glints of the newness as the last bit of snow melts away. I know too well, that even light can lie, yet this Spring beam had no manipulation of light or pose, it simply gazed on everything with equal warmth and equal depth, lending its truth to a new beginning.
Another year, another season, as small buds burst from the soil and hands that have held both tears and blood click away on a keyboard.  A torn curtain of lace from an upper window nearby, a weathered face looking out, wondering how another year has passed, as I give a friendly wave she cannot see, understanding just as well, how precious are these days.  As I let the dog out one last time before closing up my laptop and starting my workday, I brush the snow gently off of the bloom so that it does not dissolve in my hand like tears.  The silent immutability of the flowerbeds is a source of hope, here in a place that is too often cold and ice. Darkness was just here, and this small bloom is merely a flicker, one that signals the warmth to come.

The earth begins another season for those of us that remain, as those that have gone before can only watch from the heavens.  The earth is simply a standing place, one that we dwell in with that modest, clear flame that is our hope and our faith, even as we understand too well, how easy it is for that flame to be extinguished.

As I turn back into the house, I turn one last time to the trees, to a sound I can't hear, to a thing I can't see, to a memory of another tree, another morning, from a year that I can't get back, but one that will be with me always. - Brigid