Sunday, October 17, 2010


any kind of day, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

I was walking on a quiet road yesterday when a van barreled out of nowhere and came within inches of hitting me. The driver tossed me an obscenity and sped on his way.

How easily my habit of walking and thinking about a thousand different things, combined with the obscuring noise of a lawnmower might have put me more directly in his path.

He reminded me that I need to pay attention, that the ordinary world is never as benign or familiar as it seems, and that others, too, are distracted by many things.

I turned a corner and met a stooped old man, bleached white with age, carrying a step ladder across the street. When I offered to help, he thanked me, but declined, saying that it was important for him to do what he can for himself.

Worried that the angry person in the van might return, I watched the old man until he'd safely navigated the street.

"Nice day!" I said, exhaling relief when he reached the other side.

He stopped deliberately, set down his ladder with satisfaction, and looked up in the sky as if to check.

"Yes, it is, but I'm happy to take any kind of day," he said, smiling broadly. "How about you?"

"Me, too," I said, touching my face where the gravel kicked up by the van had grazed my skin. Me, too.

*Meanwhile, has anyone seen my blogroll? It disappeared mysteriously a few weeks back. I hope to get an updated version up soon.


Marja-Leena said...

Two lessons! Do take care on the roads and all the crazy rude drivers, hmmpph! As always, you write such lovely stories out of the seemingly ordinary. It's a lovely clear sunny day here too. Best to you, Patry!

rdl said...

Be careful sister!!

Patry Francis said...

Marja-leena: Thank you, friend. I'm sure you made the most of your lovely day.

R: You're right. No more daydreaming or plotting new novels while walking!

Lorna said...

I like the second lesson somewhat better. and the teacher.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you have decided to be more aware of this world when you are walking. I'm sorry we have such a careless and rude person to teach this lesson. But maybe that was his fate that day, and we can pray that he learned the lesson, too.
It is clear that your other lesson was learned by the old man, as well as by you. And things are still all right with the world.
We would miss you,my dear Patry.
Love, Ancient Reader

Patry Francis said...

Lorna: I agree with you there! In fact, I probably would have gone home fuming if it the lovely man with the step ladder hadn't crossed my path.

Ancient Reader: My husband and I were talking about the man in the van tonight, and how much reckless anger there seems to be in the world right now. In many ways, it's a danger not only to daydreaming writers sauntering down the road, but to all of us. Thank you, as always, for being one of the antidotes.

colleen said...

As my dad got older when every anyone asked him how he was doing, he'd say, "I got out of bed this morning, so I'm ahead of the game."

I do love the details and stories of life.

Anonymous said...

Both valuable lessons. I have been the angry driver, the daydreaming walker, and am on my way to becoming the woman glad for everyday. I think that will be my favorite incarnation.

Anonymous said...

Your title pulls it together for me. I'm sitting in my classroom listening to some kids in our club as they play Magic, the card game. One was talking about two teachers here, one she loved and one she didn't like. As she was talking, I was thinking about how the effectiveness of the teachers may have had little to do with how much she liked them.

And then I read this. Of course, I liked one teacher and didn't like the first. It's interesting how you found both teachers effective.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is so beautiful, Patry. And you've given me much to think about.

Patry Francis said...

Colleen: Every time I hear something about your dad, I like him more.

Robin: There's nothing like facing a serious illness, either yourself or through a loved one, to bring on the third incarnation.

Peter: Interesting thought...When I think back on my days in the classroom, I don't remember learning anything from a teacher I didn't like. But of course, that's a misperception.

Anon: Thank you!

Dave said...

Were you using Blogrolling? They folded.

Patry Francis said...

Dave: So that explains it. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Very nicely written. You have a way of capturing the reader with words that pull us in. You make some of the most common, day to day things sound good. I liked it very much and intend on reading your blog more. I am new to social networking but, if this is what I have to look forward to when I look, I am glad to be here.

Draven Ames

Laura J. Wellner (author pseudonym Laura J. W. Ryan) said...

My mantra these days is: "I'm upright and going forward." (Should I add "Be careful out there."?) There is a great deal of impatience and rudeness on the road, so many in a hurry to be an accident waiting to happen...I wish people would just slow down and take care.

I'm glad you're all right.

Patry Francis said...

Thank you, Draven, and welcome! It's always good to meet a new friend.

Laura: "Upright and going forward"--I like that motto, and not just for walking!

Tinker said...

You have such a gift for finding the lessons hidden in life's harder moments, Patry.
I'm so glad that first lesson didn't come at an even higher price for you - and that the second lesson was kinder and gentler.
As a fellow daydreamer, thank you for the reminder to stay present in the present. So many people seem to be in a daze, these days.
Take care, my friend~xo

Marilyn said...

what a beautiful lesson for all of us...any day (indeed).

leslee said...

Yes, two good lessons. Walking here in urban areas, that kind of encounter doesn't tend to happen because you're on sidewalks and there's too much traffic on the roads to unthinkingly wander onto them. I do remember country walking, though, with cars sometimes whipping around blind corners.

Patry Francis said...

Tinker: Since my daydreaming is probably incurable at this point, I should probably stick to walking on the beach...SO good to hear from you.

Marilyn; I'd rather be walking in Davis!

Leslee: I don't do too well in the city either. I'm always expecting cars to stop for me when I step into the road like they're required to do here...

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
Think I will stick to walking in the mountains where it is safe! I am sorry to read of your bad experience, but happy you met the old man straight afterwards. When I had my hip done and was taking my slow rehab walks I met some lovely people. Kia kaha Patry.

Sky said...

sounds like a "dangerous" day. glad you made it through with your persistently positive attitude. my short fuse would have been showing!

Annie said...

As always, a thought provoking, wonderful post. I am so glad to see you posting again, I have missed you so. xoxo

Pearl said...

yes, good lessons and reminders. even the most out of whack day is better than the alternative.

Susan Messer said...

Patry, what a coincidence. I too almost got hit by a car the other day while out walking. True, I wasn't paying full attention (talking on the phone), and true, someone was working with a noisy leaf blower just up the street so, I couldn't hear the car coming, which usually would have alerted me. And, true, the driver looked as shocked as I did at the near miss. And he yelled at me to get off the phone. It was a complicated moment. But I'm glad you and I will both go on to make more blueberry pies.

Russell CJ Duffy said...

Everyday is a new day and each new day is a fresh start.

As for rude drivers...that curious breed are over here in the UK too.

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