At the Park
[This might be part of my upcoming #RiverNovel  ]

We climbed the hill and reached the top, and pause now to catch our breath. The sky is so clear that I can see The River. I wonder how everyone is doing there, and imagine them settling in for the evening.

He interrupts my thoughts and takes my left hand. As I glance at him, I notice that the sun is a big glowball on the horizon. He puts his arm around my shoulders, and I put my hand on his back. I appreciate his warmth as the breeze chills me.

I begin to hum. No specific melody. Just spontaneous tones. I feel the sound come up from my lower abdomen, vibrating through my lungs. I am a wind instrument, and my throat feels like vibrating strings as I run air along them like a bow. I settle into a meditative state, peaceful, safe, wise, in tune with the universe. My abdomen fills with air as I breathe in, like the bladder of a bagpipe. I settle into low tones that resonate in the base of my throat.

"For the beauty of the earth," he crackles without following the tune very closely. "For the glory of the skies." 

I am not feeling as peaceful as I thought. I was feeling bliss as long as no one bugged me. His singing bugs me. I like my tones and meditation, and they don't harmonize with his rendition of the church hymn. Annoyed, I join him. I try to lead him in the melody.

"For the love that at thy birth 
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise."

He gives my shoulder a squeeze, then turns me to lead us a few steps to a fire ring. We sit on the bench near it. He rummages around in his jacket pocket and pulls out his pipe, pipe tool, tobacco pouch, and book of matches. While he cleans and lights his pipe, I go to the edge of the woods looking for firewood. The squirrels are making a lot of noise, playing their games of tag as I gather a load of dead leaves and twigs.

He bunches up pages of my New York Times as the base. I drop the my load on top, and then go back for branches. I hear him continue to "sing" the same hymn.

He lights the paper, and I feed the flames with the splintered ends of the smaller branches. 

I sit on the bench, and we sing the hymn over and over. Darkness covers the beauty of the earth, but the glimmer of the campfire keeps the darkness from swallowing us up. Stars light up and make the sky more glorious. I let my attention drift from his screeching, and focus on the feeling of the sounds in me. I want the sound of my voice to soften his harsh sounds, but my tempo drags behind his as I try to pull his voice to a slower, calmer beat. I try to stifle a yawn, and he notices. He calls over a passing couple, and offers our fire. They are glad to enjoy it, and we leave them to it.

As we walk down the hill, he keeps fitzing with his pipe, puffing a few times, and using his pick and tamper to rearrange the tobacco. I see myself become an orb, drifting down the hill smoothly, disconnected from the earth's limitations, and shielded from my environment. Gradually, my sense of my self-as-a-body dissolves, and I am an orb of luminescent energy in perfect bliss.

We arrive at the traffic intersection, and I have to zap back into being a person so I can help us get across safely. He grumbles about the uneven pavement and curbs as we return to my apartment. I didn't bother to lock the door, so he leads the way in. He assures me that he has everything that he needs for a good night's sleep.
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+sherry austin , +Karen Woodward , +Ronda Reed  last week, you asked what preceded The River and squirrel story. Look what you got going. I'm a few chapters in now!
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