Afternoon light fell sharply across the boy’s face as I walked past his house. He was three maybe four years old and sitting in the grass by the front steps. As we made eye contact he raised his hand solemnly and waved to me. I waved back and kept walking down the street. Spring light hangs long in the sky this far north, a good light for walking.
Walking gives me time to think about the day, the week, the year. Walking gives me time to think about the taser pointed at my chest. It was just a second or two, enough time to see the fear in the cop’s eyes. He was so scared. Then it was gone again, pointed back at the man who was trying to hurt himself. The dressing I’d hastily bargained for and wrapped was back on the ground. He started to bleed again. Towering over the cop he screamed Get out of my house.
I didn’t leave the hospital until close to 11 pm, but I have the time. I have the time to squat down next to his bed and listen. To push aside the hunting knife and bucket of blood. I have the time to talk, to step between the patient and the cop, to wait and wait and wait and wait until he was ready to let me work. There was blood all over the ER bay, blood on my clothes. I’m worried about the day when I don’t take the time. I was proud of the 15 stitches which took very little time.
My time in this town is winding down. Two more weeks and then I’m back in the city. I just had two weeks of study troll time at home in Minneapolis in order to study for USMLE Step 2. It’s unnerving how quickly it takes for my time in Ely to feel completely alien. I woke up at 3:30 Friday morning so I could make it to the clinic by 8:00 am. Once the Ely water tower came into view and I rolled down the windows and leaned my head outside to smell the woods. The clinic day passed in a fog and I made it out to my housesitting paradise on Burntside Lake just in time to take a nap.
My eyes opened with wind blowing in the cedars and the lake rippling in the soft breeze. Ollie (the lab and my charge) and I strolled down to the shore and surveyed the array of canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and speed boat. He chose the boat. I forgot what a rush it is to lean into the throttle and feel the rise toward 45 degrees before crashing forward and skimming across the sunset drenched water. After we both dove into the black water Ollie moped on the dock as I taught myself how to paddle board. Taught might be an overstatement as paddle boarding is one of those rare activities that’s just as easy as it looks. I paddled south for 15 minutes or so and just as I swung back around I saw an eagle drop from the sky, screaming down towards me. She passed no more than ten feet above my head, touched the water behind me, and soared back up into the sky. I watched her do this three more times before flapping off toward another bay. She was hunting.
After a late night sauna, I slept like the dead and woke up to a roaring thunderstorm. The rain cleared as I finished Swing Time over a pot of hot coffee. After the coffee ran out, both Ollie and I were ready to use our bodies. I was trailing him through the woods at Hidden Valley when the greens started to swirl in front of me. My watch only read 18 minutes, so I realized that the problem was that I was a shit runner compared to my partner. By the time I got into a relative groove, I was undone by my sweat. It only takes one horsefly to send me crashing back to earth with the reminder that I’m far from a true woodsman.
Sitting in this beautiful kitchen, drinking fresh coffee, and listening to the wind slip through the trees, time feels decadent.
Doesn’t even mind the Chacos