Yesterday

Yesterday, nuthatches swarmed the bird feeder. The dogwood tree seemed to move like an escalator, birds walking upside down in a row. And there were the visiting birds, perching along the electric wires, migraters at a rest stop.

Yesterday, I walked along the river. The path was strewn with acorns. I could hear fellow walkers and some bikers approach: the crunch of tires on acorns, the crack of acorns underfoot.

Yesterday, a lone man in a john boat piloted eastward, his left arm holding a huge, flapping, Confederate flag on a pole. He stopped the boat every minute or so to stand and wave the obscene flag with both arms. I assumed he was protesting Black Lives Matter, the after-verdict shutdown in St. Louis. How empty must a life be, I thought, that holds up the symbol of a lost cause perpetrated by rich, white southerners who, if they were alive, would have nothing to do with a hardscrabble desperado in a john boat.

Yesterday, a migrating forty-pound snapping turtle stopped at mid-road on Stroke Hill and hissed at me. It was too big and aggressive to pick up and relocate. So, I stood guard and alerted passing cars. Snapping turtles rule their world but not the world of pickup trucks. Finally, I kicked at the old warrior, and it hissed and crossed and disappeared down the bluff.

Yesterday, long strands of white pelican pearls swirled above the islands.

Yesterday, my straight-faced friend Hummingbird Man retold me his annual fall story, that hummingbirds hitch rides on the backs of big birds all the way to Mexico. Belief is a powerful thing. Science hasn’t got a prayer.

Yesterday, dog-eye sulfur butterflies with yellow-green wings undulated on the breeze. If I had to vote on Best Butterfly, I would elect dog-eyes. They come before autumn, gather in large groups in puddles, and flutter in concert, and break tender hearts with their sheer beauty.

Yesterday, my legs burned, my heart beat wildly, my body rained sweat and gnats, my feet became brittle and numb, and still I walked, among orange-hued soybean fields and golden row of cornstalks, above the ribboning Mississippi River. And I saw my younger self in the mirror of my sunglasses: young and strawberry-haired and rusty-bearded and sex-crazed and arrogant and vital and confident and masculine

yesterday.

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