Right Place, Right Time

I love this time of year. The trees have covered their spindly limbs just as we’re all starting to reveal our own. I went to a park in Penfield on that 80-degree day last week, wandered up the creek to where the trail ends and stood there on a log, shirt and shoes in hand, listening to the water, watching the little seed tufts float through the air. I wasn’t there more than 30 seconds when a heron soared over the tree line. It drifted down silently and then pulled up to land on a high dead branch right above me.
I had slept in that morning with no alarm, stopped for coffee, and made all kinds of detours along the trail. That random leisurely pace put me in the right place at the right time. If I had been in motion, stepping out of the woods or hopping up on the log, I probably would have caught the heron’s eye and sent him gliding farther downstream. And what led him there at just that moment? Who knows what deviations occur in the course of a typical morning for a heron, or if the concept of a routine even applies. Anyway, as it was, he didn’t see me and I managed a decent photo.
Time and place dictate a lot of what happens to us. They allow us glimpses of beauty. They shuffle the deck of who we meet when, and what hands we can play. And they attend to grimmer tasks like choosing the victims of car accidents and house fires and plane crashes: eeny, meeny, miney mo.
It can happen in other ways, but radio offers a sort of shortcut, a way to be open to the potential of the moment, a chance to appreciate a specific time and place. Radio lives with us in a way other mediums don't. We can't experience a book or a film while driving around town or making dinner or working in the garden. But radio can hover in the background, allowing for conversation and activity, forgiving our lack of attention. And then suddenly a song comes on and roots us in the moment. There've been more recent examples but I still remember heading into work early one morning a few years ago. It was just starting to get light. I was on my way in to kick off another radio pledge drive, thinking about pitch ideas and gift lists. Then Bob Dylan came out of the radio…
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
“Lay Down Your Weary Tune” just happened to come up in the overnight rotation on WRUR. I just happened to be up that early and happened to have the radio on, instead of a CD. And because of it, I spent the next 4 minutes not in my head but driving through the dawn of a beautiful morning.