It's been many years since I read Born on the Fourth of July, the story of Ron Kovic and the terrible aftermath of his time served in Viet Nam, yet I still can recall my response and the tears shed while reading his closing words remembering a particular day in his young life, a moment of almost unbearable poignancy, before the war and the wheelchair. He wrote, "There was a song called "Runaway" by a guy named Dell Shannon playing one Saturday at the baseball field. I remember it was a beautiful spring day and we were young back then and really alive and the air smelled fresh...."
This seemingly small moment in time had somehow remained fixed, as though the day itself had just happened and all of life was yet to come. We probably all have these moments, moments that come to define us. I am very grateful that my own have not been marked by tragedy.
On days such as this one, it's easier to sense the goodness life has wrought. The sun is shining bright in a cloudless blue sky, a slight breeze comes up every few minutes and rustles the leaves on the trees. Three goldfinches share the bird feeder with a pair of red-winged blackbirds, the deep pink blossoms of a crab apple tree as their backdrop. The shadows created by the tree limbs, outlined on the grass below, feel peaceful and right.
Earlier, I had walked to the almost-overgrown orchard next to the field and watched as a bumblebee buried its nose in a soft white apple blossom, while a small yellow butterfly settled briefly in the tall grass, flew a few inches and settled again, doing this over and over until it moved out of sight.
On my way back to the house, I stopped to look at the old license plates Otis had nailed to the shed in the years before I arrived, a simple progression of numbers telling a tale called time.
Then, I looked over at my garden gate and thought of the sugar snap peas, quietly pushing their way through the dark earth to the waiting sunlight.
"Runaway," for those who might want to remember: