Koan # 4: From my Field Journal, 3/7/09


It’s been a long, good week, very productive — and I’m here again parked in the rain at a bend in the Des Plaines River. The ice on the riverbend is a soft, translucent white. The thawed parts of the riverbend are a flat brown tinged with green, gray on the surface. The bare-limbed trees are reflected in the sheen at the river’s edge and the rain is plopping, like water fountains sounding beneath a rumble of thunder. The roots of the old oaks along the north bank are submerged. Two mallards and a stray goose glide smoothly among the trunks, unperturbed by the showers. I am here again, in the pelting rain, in the drumming, thrumming rain, in the winter-turning-to-spring, in this hidden pocket of Chicago. I am here, again, because where else can I go (so co close to home), away from the productive bustle and noise of the week? Where else can I turn but to the riverbend, in the rain, to catch my breath and slow the racing of my pulse and the pace of my hours? Where else can I simply be?

It’s storming full-force now. And so many fat raindrops hit the river, between the tree trunks that the river is splashed white. Puddles and rivulets deepen on the softening banks, returning rainwater to the bend.

It smells like old road salt and boots and winter’s last cough in my van. But I don’t care because when I roll down my window, I smell the natural richness of the bank, the fresh rain, and the wet bark while the storm drums on my windshield.


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