Monday, Apr. 24, 2023 @ 11:32 pm
Listening to Owls with Shawn
I stand beside Shawn in the forest, evening sun filtering through the trees, the air redolent with earthy humidity. We stand there together listening to an owl hoot, peering up into the forest canopy.
We are leaning on our mountain bikes, catching our breath and talking. Our conversation has a gentleness, a hesitance. Who are you? Can I trust you?
How did my life come to include Shawn? I think about him a lot. I hardly know him, but I see how he waits for me at the trail junctions, checks back to make sure that I’m behind him. Those gestures are telling. He is humble, and he speaks kindly to others on the trails. I don't know where he works or where he grew up, but I see how he moves through the world. That I trust.
We met in the forest a few days ago. A chance encounter. After a brief introduction, we began to ride together. The forest air humid and rain starting to fall. Mud freckles across my face. And my smile extra large because this is just the best thing ever, to be riding in the forest in the rain with someone who appreciates owls and the magical light streaming through the cedars and fir.
I wasn’t expecting to run into him again just two days later, but there he was riding the climbing trail ahead of me. I pulled up beside him and smiled and then we rode together.
Sometimes I lead the way, and other times he goes ahead. Either way, I ride better than when I’m alone. The sun begins to set, and the light in the forest dims. I grew up underneath a mature cedar tree, and here I am again, reliving my childhood of playing under the trees at dusk. It smells of the same loam and resin. My mother will soon be calling me inside for a bath.
At the end of the evening before we part ways, we stand for a long time talking. The sun reflecting off the ocean through the forest. Quiet pauses in conversation that aren’t awkward because of the birds that call out through the understory. I don’t want to leave, but I also know that this is how to savour the sweetness.
Life is finite, and the part that scares me the most is that I won’t have time to meet everyone. Maybe one day I’ll hug Shawn, lay my head on his shoulder, and thank him for being open enough to let me into his life. Because my life is already better because of him.