Written on Friday, May 6, 2016
She was walking down the path into the woods, as she did every morning—okay, most every morning—when she heard someone call her name. Perhaps it was a dog’s awkward yelp, but she could swear the sound said LINDA! There was an urgency about it, someone trying to catch her attention. Was there danger? Was it delight?
She stopped, turned, searched the underbrush, half expecting—almost wanting—a body to crash through the overgrown autumn olive, someone to join her. She listened for the sound to repeat. How often, on the second hearing, had she identified the true source of a sound: a wren, the squealing of brakes, that crazy cardinal crashing into its reflection in the window? But pausing there next to two Jack-in-the-pulpit plants she’d just recognized next to the path, she heard nothing more than the distant trickle of the stream, the raucous call of a pair of pileated woodpeckers off in the treetops.
It was a gloomy morning. Clouds and rain had hung in the air for more than a week now. The air was dull and heavy, no scent of honeysuckle or spring. She tried to push that premonition from her mind as she sat next to the stream. But she kept remembering that misty apparition she’d seen ahead of her on the path one dark winter morning a few months ago, how she thought it was a presence, a sign, some spirit being come to lead her on. It was probably just the flick of a deer’s tail, she reasoned now. Still.
As she closed her eyes, tried to settle into herself, allow Spirit to speak, a crow flew into the clearing, alighted on a dead branch, called out, then flew off to the north. Surely that was a sign, she thought. But a sign of what?