It was one of those September mornings when the temperature difference between day and night has resulted in a fine white mist that hugs the ground in low spots along the road and flows like water down and out across asphalt.
As I walk down the driveway and come up out of the hollow to the paved frontage road, I see the sun is barely peeking over the trees on the horizon, glowing like an orange-red ball in the early morning haze. It reminds me of times we had cookouts at the beach when I was a kid, watching the setting sun, glowing orange, sink lower and lower in the sky, its powerful light diffused by the fog bank rolling in off the ocean.
I head off down the road. An occasional car or truck whizzes by on the highway to my left, but it is still rather early, and there are fairly long moments of silence. I imagine what it would be like if there were no cars at all, how quiet it would be. The insects have not yet started to sing, and the birds are still.
I pass Big Tony’s house, and it is quiet as well. Sometimes his yappy rat terriers are in the yard barking wildly, but this morning they are still inside.
And then up ahead, I see them walking toward me through a finger of mist that has poured down across the road: two old women, enjoying an early morning walk. Visiting with each other as they amble along.
These two widow women have lived near each other for years. There used to be three of them who walked together, and now there are just two.
Their faces are relaxed. One says something to the other, and they both smile, I hear a laugh. We draw closer and smile at each other and exchange greetings, and they pass by and make the turn at Big Tony’s house to go to their respective homes.
The Simon and Garfunkle song “Old Friends” begins to play in my head.
No, they aren’t old men sitting on a park bench, but they are old friends.
If stages of life are indeed as the seasons, then they are Winter companions. I am entering the Fall of my life, and I wonder as I continue walking down the road, if I will have someone to walk with, a companion, when it becomes Winter for me and I am old.
The days slip by and summer moves further into fall, and if they are still walking together, they aren’t doing it when we are taking our walk or when I am driving down the road heading for town.
And the seasons, they go round and round and another summer comes. I go to a garage sale at the house of one of the women and learn that she was seriously injured in a fall and now living in the nursing home in the Alzheimer’s unit. I go to visit her, but I am not sure she knows who I am.
A few weeks ago her obituary was in the newspaper.
Yesterday when I went for a walk, the remaining little old lady, and a woman who was probably her daughter, turned the corner at Big Tony’s house as I was passing by on my way home. We smiled at each other and commented on the lovely morning.