We're trudging through winter like zombies weighted down in leaden boots. While we're not digging out from epic snowfall like some parts of the country, we're swimming in what seems like an endless stream of rain. Cold. Wet. Dreary days. So much rain the grounds are soaked. Pools of standing water where grass used to be. We're not talking Seattle like showers. These are downpouring deluges. Looking for the bright side, one of my neighbors predicted a very green spring. He's probably right, for whatever survives the drowning.
The all too rare sunny day is cause for jubilant celebration. Break out the sunglasses, we're going for a walk! Max and me were so excited to have sun on Super Bowl Sunday, we headed out to soak up this solstice for the soul. A nice long leisurely stroll recalibrated our bio-rhythms and put us back in touch with nature. I let Max lead the way since he seemed to have a destination in mind. The trek took us on a circuitous route through all his favorite haunts... a string of neighborhood parks; some, public gathering spots with lakes and benches inviting human visitors... others, more remote, hidden jewels that promise exotic sights and smells perfect for curious little canines. No doubt all the rain had washed away most of Max's carefully placed markings, so he went about the tedious task of laying down new ones, tucking his smell into the deepest recesses of shrubbery and bush. I gave him free rein, while I pondered more weighty matters.
The Bible says there is a time and season for all things. We just lost another dear friend. I credit George with leading me to the wonderfully historic area where we live. As true urban pioneers, he and his wife dared to venture into the Old Fourth Ward more than twenty years ago when most folks were running in the other direction... to the suburbs. They carved a beautiful life together, filled with a shared love of community economic development, art and travel, friends and family. He invited me to come out to look at the new homes being developed in the Martin Luther King Historic District and I fell in love. I moved into my home in Spring 1998, and have watched the neighborhood blossom into a thriving, bustling district with a mix of single family homes, townhomes, condos, lofts, restaurants, shops, boutiques, clubs. George's imprint is all over the place.
Three years after I moved in, Max showed up on my doorstep.
As Max and me traversed the network of connecting parks, I was thinking about George and his passion for life. In many ways, he lived the life I would love. A brilliant attorney, George worked hard, but played even harder. Whatever he did, he did it with real gusto. He was an avid athlete who would ride his bicycle from our downtown Atlanta neighborhood to Stone Mountain, about 30 miles one way, and back on week-ends. Sometimes, he would fit in a tennis match with friends before the return trip. He loved nothing more than his wife and girls. Married 27 years, he often talked about how his love for Mtamanika expanded over the years. He was more in love with her every day. A couple of years ago, they toured the Lourve with an art critic in tow. Theirs was a match of equals.
Heading back home with Max, I became acutely aware of George's presence and his impact on my life. Even in the darkest season, there is light. Thank God for sunshine!