Driving home today, the sunset lay all mellow and silky against the mountain ridge, and it was seven in the evening. Seven, and the sky was a translucent blue at the zenith. When I open my door, a flurry of swallows flies up from the bottom of the lawn, where the water pools after I've watered. What they find so intriguing down there, I have no idea.
Various bushes and trees have put out tiny tongues of leaves, all furry and tentative and each day they unfurl a little more. There are even red, furry buds on the rose bushes and the tree that used to come only to the bottom of the bedroom window and now knocks against the upper glass panes is putting out buds. In a month or so, the sunlight will be filtered through the pale green leaves and it will remain cool and dim even in the afternoon.
"Hope we don't get a frost," said an elderly lady pragmatically. She was making her slow, hitching progress around my desk, as she does every day after dinner. "They'll all drop off."
I was left with the horror, and the evening's temperature, as checking it is her other evening ritual. Our resident French citizen was deeply upset this evening due to the fact that we did not organize a game of Skip-bo in lieu of the cancelled Jeopardy; we played a crossword puzzle instead.
"If it was in my own language, then maybe I could enjoy," she complained to me, leaning elegantly on her cane, waving one long figured hand in the air. She took herself off resignedly to bed after expressing her severe displeasure to the care manager whose misfortune it was to have made the decision.
I went on to lead the cross word puzzle, bellowing the clues out as loud as I could and was still unable to communicate clearly.
"23 three across," I said, gesturing a la Vanna White. "Sphere of influence," I then projected with all the force in my lungs. Bewildered cries began to rise from the gathered elderly.
"Spear?" "Near?" "What was that?" "I can't hear a thing!" "Fear!"
"No, no, SPHERE!" I shouted, making a circle with my hands.
"No, as in, the Gladiator's sphere of influence!" I shouted back. (the word was arena) "It's a five letter word...." They all looked at me crossly under the unflattering florescent light. "We'll come back to that one later...moving on."
The EMTs were called, I have not been having the best of luck with them. On Friday I looked up from something or other to see a gathering of them around my desk. Normally I'm called before hand, so that I know where to direct them. Startled, I was barely able to remember what floor the room number was on.
Tonight when they arrived, I had the room number. Confidently I led the way to the elevator, the doors of which continued to open and close, open and close, while I and three large and imposing men carrying emergency equipment pretended that we were not all in a terrible hurry.
"Can you tell me a little about what happened?" asked one, as we were finally descending, as though offering me a chance to make up for the elevator malfunction.
I could and did, and proudly then I marched into the downstairs and led them all off into the wrong hallway. They were redirected and I scurried off to hide behind my desk.
"Goodnight, Jenny!" they said, as they left, striding past the desk.
"How do you know my name?" I wanted to ask. I mean, who really takes the time to read and then remember a name badge? "I'm sorry about leading you the wrong way," I said instead.
They did not break step, they swept through the doors and called over their shoulders, "No problem, we got where we needed to be."
And they were off, into the balmy, very early spring night to attend to other urgent calls at other retirement homes. Our little gathering of crossword playing elderly lingered on, long after the game was done and the words erased, drinking coffee and lemonade and chatting and the fact that they couldn't understand each other didn't matter a bit.
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