The day, here at Ossipee, feels full and long, though it wasn't really so this Sunday. We wakened early, to be able to walk cross-lots and see our Tamsie off. I shaved, took pills, dressed for church, heated a little of last night's coffee, and followed after Molly, who'd gone ahead to "help" if she could.
Tamsie, trim and neat, dressed beautifully for her journey, had everything in hand. The engine of her rental car was running and the trunk lid was up and waiting for any last things. Firm and efficient, hugged us each, declaring her love, and was off to Portsmouth, to catch the bus for Logan, and then her airplane home. I gave my required yodel, as part of our long tradition of family Ossippee goodbyes, and she was gone - ten minutes ahead of time. She'll be home in time for Arthur Snow's, Lizzie's son, seventeenth birthday party - an important occasion since his dad's unexpected and sudden death at Thanksgiving time.
We headed for early church and a small group gathering afterward, on the theme of "community." After a beautiful Sunday brunch tradition of eggs, toast, muffins & jam, with OJ, milk as needed, now a 68-year culinary triumph each week, we hunkered down under a sacred patchwork quilt from our first church, a gifted Canadian blanket, for an hour's rest.
At three, it was time for me to head for the river in my beloved canoe, to paddle an approximately two-mile circuit across our bay into Pine River, then paddling the meandering turns to the highway to Portland bridge, and back again.
Usually busy, this Sunday afternoon of early September , the river was all mine. No pontoon boats, no Sea-doos, not even any kayaks, and no responses from my "river rat" friends who live in two cabins along the banks.
Only four or five red cardinal flowers were barely hanging on. Gradually they're being replaced by clusters of beautiful white asters gathered close to the water. Only one splash of red-turned-purple leaves are evident down by the river's mouth.
A long-necked gooney-bird who swims, dives, and flies like a duck was now much in evidence. One of them led me half way up the river.
The usual crowd of ducks, regularly fed by Caroline at their river bank home, were resting hopefully on her front lawn.
Sunday's stream of cars and trucks and motorcycles were crossing my Route 25 bridge from Portland on the way to join yet other motorists going south out of New Hampshire mountains toward the Interstate to Boston. I continued my solitary way under pale skies, as fall's crisp air floated in.
While tying up my canoe at our dock, my daily hard cough overtook me. I made it to the berm above the beach, where I flopped into a deck chair, still coughing. Suddenly, from the campground next door one of the young new owners came over saying, "Arthur, can I help you with your canoe, your paddle, or anything?" I explained my long-standing lung disease, brought home from Africa two decades ago. And we fell into a kindly, long neighborly conversation.
A heavenly intervention, surprisingly sent by God to assure me I am, even in the quiet afternoon of early fall, surrounded by those who watch and care.
And so, home, to the evening with Molly, our first night alone in two weeks, leaving me overwhelmed and grateful to God, Who keeps His promise, to "come to me" when I need Him.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES