Practicing Not Being A Physician in Practice

cropped-a-path-in.jpgI help my wife carry a heavy potted fern from the back garden around to the front porch where everyone can easily see it. It looks grand. After that, I go for a walk.

There is a lot to notice today for some reason. Granular brown ant colonies lining the sidewalk seams, pismires hustling around it. I narrowly avoid stepping on them and I’m watchful after a near trip.

I hear birds everywhere. A cacophony high in the canopy in the sparse wood on one side of the walkway makes me look up. I see two birds kissing, beak to beak. One flies off. The other sits alone and sings. Somewhere, a catbird is mewling.

Wildflowers cascade down the gray retaining wall and sprawl onto the walk. Dimpled, purple berries peek from the brambles. Red ones sport golden sunspots and stare from the hedges.

Next to a neighbor’s mailbox is a circular mirror. I watch my reflection approach. Something about my gait reminds me of someone we just call The Old Guy. He walks slowly up and down and around the streets, looking around him, checking any construction sites, smiling as he waves at us. He treads the earth carefully, like Carlos Castaneda’s warrior Yaqui brujo, Don Juan, “…looking, looking breathlessly.”

I notice I’m walking a lot like him today.

As I pass the school on my right, I see old men in shorts and tank tops being dropped off by SUV’s. Then I see a gray-headed man in a referee’s uniform, also heading slowly into the school.  Maybe old men are playing a basketball game as part of a benefit event.

Or maybe they just really want to capture the thrill of winning again.

I surprise a rabbit. It scampers into the prairie grass, flashing a white tufted tail.

The sky is blue and the clouds are white. I smell wildflowers on my left, and soon after, I reach the Forevergreen nursery. Two swallows and a pigeon are perched on powerlines stretched across the space where the nursery grows many of its trees. I think of the song, “Bird on a Wire.”

The big fans roar in the greenhouse. I see a young man up ahead walking his golden retriever. He comes towards me and I think, “We’ll meet.” He turns the corner of the intersection just before that can happen.

As I turn behind him, an older couple riding bicycles turn on to the street riding up beside me on my left. The woman smiles and calls out “Good morning!” I call back, “Hello!”

The sky is so blue.

On my right, a long field of wild sumac hides the railroad tracks. On my left, a field of beans stretches off to the horizon in neat rows. I reach a construction site, vast and guarded by dinosaur cranes and other heavy equipment. A mountain of dirt presides, tiger-striped with skinny gullies left by rivulets from a recent rain.

On my right, a mass of prairie grass thrives which resembles wheat, their heads swaying in a light breeze. I hold out my hand to them and the fine hairs tickle my palm.

I see on the sidewalk a bird’s wing, separated from the body which is nowhere to be found, probably the sign of a surprise attack by a feral cat.

To my left, the parking lot geometry of painted lines, and the yellow street signs with 9 dots on them warning drivers of the median remind me of the 9 Dots Puzzle–which I cannot solve. I refuse to look up the solution on the internet.

The sun is bright, the sky is blue, and a jet leaves a white trail. My skin is damp but cool to the touch.

On my left, a tall, narrow metal flange fencepost with a sign attached says “Boundary.” It’s in a neighbor’s front yard and the boundary marks what belongs to the city, not to the homeowner. We have a sign like that. It’s in the middle of our back yard garden.

I approach another neighbor, on my right, who is using a blower to clear his sidewalk of grass after mowing his lawn. I’m reminded of how someone once said that this was a lot like herding cats. I stop to chat with him. He’s also a physician. We make small-talk for a few minutes about the challenges of being a doctor. I admire his emerald lawn and notice the smell of new-mown grass.

I walk home. The sky is blue.



  1. Joe Shader says:

    My favorite post of this blog. I need more practice.

    Liked by 1 person

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