This morning was another fine one, cool and sunny, with the sun shining obliquely from low in the southeastern sky. The sun gave just enough benign warmth to temper the coolness of the air.
I hadn’t intended to go on a walk just yet — I’d just had my coffee and I was still barefoot. I was trying to read an essay on the web, part of the daily harvest of essays and articles provided by that digital/cultural garden Arts and Letters Daily (http://www.aldaily.com).
Unfortunately Ubu the difficult dog, an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, was distracting me with her yips and barking every time someone passed the house, walking along the sidewalk. I sighed.
“C’mon, Ubu, let’s go out on the porch for a while, okay?”
Ubu eagerly followed me to the front door. I leashed her before we went out. Once out on the porch I was struck by the sheer fineness of the morning. I couldn’t help but walk down the sidewalk a ways, the dog by my side snuffling up mysterious odors from the grass bordering the cracked and misaligned slabs of concrete.
I felt that familiar sense of vulnerability which increased the farther I ventured from home with bare feet. What if there was broken glass or sharp gravel? The cool and humid atmosphere gradually effaced that trivial worry and we walked on. He was speaking of a summer evening rather than a morning, but Henry Thoreau’s rhapsodic description of “imbibing delight through every pore” came to mind.
Before long the dog and I were in Central Park, with its diagonal sidewalks converging upon a central fountain. We approached a park bench. I greeted the two old men, one of them white and the other black, who were sitting side by side on the bench, each with a newspaper partially folded on his lap. They were evidently discussing the news of the day, with the newspapers providing the seeds of conversation.
The white man was bald and looked to be in his seventies. The black man was a bit younger and wore overalls; perched on the back of his head was one of those engineer caps which look as if they are sewn from old-fashioned blue-and-white-striped mattress ticking.
I didn’t stop, but as I passed by I heard an intriguing sentence fragment:
“…now three or four hundred years ago…”
What could they have been talking about? I prefer not knowing — I delight in speculating about the context of that fragment.