Mother and I have returned to the cottage by the lake. Our annua] retreat together is carried out even as Mother has become nearly blind. In fact, as we both remember, her vision has been failing gradually over many years. Our summer vacations have documented the encroaching darkness.
The lake itself is bounded on all sides by evergreens ascending on hills much as if you had happened on a meadow perfectly enclosed within an impenetrable forest. Our cottage sits close to the water. When we are in our rowboat together on the lake, there is a quiet and muted light, even at mid-day. Hand in hand we walk around to the dock, then carefully into the boat. I paddle a while and we are soon into our favorite cove. It is where the ]oons we have named Helen and Amanda come in early morning and again at dusk. They float about nearby then suddenly dive for little fish and reappear, it seems ages later, nearby or far away. Predictable and unpredictable they are busy, it seems, just for us. Mother seems to know all their movements and can astonishingly turn to where they will rise from the water, soundless at first, then call to each other in that unforgettable song which is at the same time so lonely and so lovely.
In the evening, sitting in that great expanse of water like a dark mirror, we listened almost in compíete darkness to their play. At last we guided the little boat into shore. Walking along the winding road to our cottage, I suddenly stopped. The recent rain had obscured the even asphalt and I was momentarily lost. Mother took my hand and led me to the veranda where she guided me to the swing and we both sat there talking of nothing in particular.
I thought of blindness as a most intimate look at oneself and one's relation to the world, much like touch and sound and love as the meaning between things. The loons dive deep into darkness and rise always to sing again.
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