Delicate

watercolor illustration of crows flying through spring trees by Alexandra Schaefers

The scent of Magnolia blossoms draws me along the trail into their grove. The blossoms form colored clouds around their trunks and layer against each other and the green adding a murky aliveness to the quivering air as oxygen molecules shift to make room for the bursting buds and rain droplets.

One crow forages alone at the edge of a large grassy slope punctuating the intense green. When I look down the trail I see flashes of other crows slipping between the trees. The cloud cover deepens their black feathers so they drip through the woods like oil.

watercolor illustration of a crow at the edge of a green slope by alexandra Schaefers

I sit on a bench reaching into the lace of bird song for the familiars: scrub jays, yellow warblers, dark-eyed juncos, spotted towhees, crows. A woman walks past so engrossed in her phone her steps seem suspended. I do not exist in her attention even peripherally and for a moment I feel how a forest creature might hiding in its own stillness watching the brash world of humans pass.

The rain drops become larger as I write in my sketchbook so I get on the trail again and head for the picnic shelter.

A spotted towhee darts across the trail from one brushy cover to another. It is so funny to watch birds run even in situations where flight would be unwieldy. I feel as though my whole life is the same sort of comic but necessary dash so I stop to photograph the rusty hues of dead salal leaves and draw a few buds from the spray of spring twigs along the trail.

sketchbook drawing of spring maple buds by Alexandra Schaefers

A loud truck rumbles down Burnside and I feel aquatic in this dense atmosphere, snuggled on all sides by the viscosity of ions exchanging—green things sending ripples of freshness across the air as they turn light and water into fiber.

I came here to admire magnolia blossoms. What do I remember about them anyway? How delicate and soft the petals were even on blossoms larger than my hands.

watercolor painting of a magnolia blossom by Alexandra Schaefers

I get to the shelter but it’s almost time to go.

I want every moment to be this good and decide there’s no reason today can’t be the day everything changes. All I have to do is stop minding my frustrations—to let them fuss like small children while I dwell in beauty unimpressed with their complaints.

A junco flies in and hops around the rivets of the shelter support. Another lands on the trash and peers into its dark opening. He sees nothing of interest and flies off.

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