Back on my stump at the edge of what some here call the Riviera—the sunny edge of a sheltered field skirted by a white pine, hemlock, maple and oak tree wood—I close my eyes, resting my head against a trunk; Nellie leans into me dutifully. I sit here thawing out as the glacier at my feet recedes. Then comes my most favorite sound in the world: the rushing of wind through the tops of trees. Though it can sound a bit like distant breaking waves on a pebble beach or like crashing rapids in a canyon river, it has a unique quality, a building up from almost nothing, like hundreds of whispering voices. Inevitably, the sound of the breeze transports me back to my childhood and I remember that today, ninety-two years ago, my Dad came into the world.

Eyes still closed, I think of those old photos of Dad, tall and lean with a rippled gut and a balding head though barely out of his teens. I see pictures of him tan and towering over the other Naval cadets sporting a toothy smile, and I imagine him back at the Academy running his 4:28 minute mile. I see snapshots of him shepherding us kids at the beach, toting a fishing pole or a bucket of clams, see a faded one of us sunning at the base of a hot white Oregon sand dune.

In my mind I’m eight again, trudging onto a grey morning beach, wind plaiting my hair, damp sneakers chafing skinny feet. Dad is up ahead leading the way across the sandbar and, like a duckling, I following the dimples his steps have made. In one hand he carries a small shovel, in the other, a bucket. Clay-colored hip waders hang from suspenders off of his broad shoulders. A gossamer white t-shirt clings to his chest, catches a gust, then billows like a sail. As he gazes out past the breakers to the horizon, I wonder what he might be thinking.

Something stirs in the melting leaves nearby, breaks my trance, brings me back into reality where the light gleaming off of the snow is blinding. It’s hard to believe Dad has been gone these twenty-one years. I wonder what he’d make of my life, of our struggles with Calvin—of Calvin himself—of the regrettable sibling fuss over politics and money, of the pathetic state this nation finds itself in.

It's time to go home, so Nellie and I trudge across a vast whiteness marred by swaths of slushy tundra. I step into a pocket of water made by someone's boot. At home I find a squirrel trapped in our screen porch and wonder how it got there. I pick up pine boughs littering the yard from a recent storm. Over my shoulder the sun begins to set at a slightly higher angle, and I am grateful. Next to me, as a clock ticks away the seconds of life I can hear a zephyr rustle through the tops of trees and, just as suddenly, I am swept back to when I was two and Dad was forty, holding me between his knees.


  1. those were the days, my friend : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3KEhWTnWvE

  2. attachments never end.....we feel yours.

  3. So beautiful! And your face there looks exactly like your face now.