Ordinary Rapture

It had been a tough few months for them. Her 80 year old mother Teresa suffered a stroke in Vancouver just before they returned from Colombia in June. They spent the summer dismantling Teresa's apartment and visiting her in the hospital. By October, he had to fly back to the Amazon, leaving her in charge of their North American home and the care of Teresa. One day it felt like too much. She called him, weeping, and he told her about the scene he beheld at Calanoa: a star-spattered sky above a bamboo grove jewelled with fireflies. In the black Amazon night, everything glistened, scintillated: he could not tell where the sky ended and the earth began. For her, hearing this description from a man, her man, who is more comfortable making images with a camera and a paintbrush, it was a kind of rapture.

So too, on a less celestial scale, a recent trend in the neighbourhood, an egg glut on a couple of roads just up the hill. It started with a blue and white cooler outside the gate every day at the end of a paved driveway, the money jar wedged between stacks of cardboard cartons filled with the largest, freshest, most delicious eggs we had ever tasted. What's more, we could hear the hens cackling as they skittered and strutted, pecked and scratched around the half-acre behind the house; we could feel the frustration of the German Shepherd guarding them from predators, barking from his own fenced enclosure. Those eggs were worth every penny of the $5 per, then $6 per we paid. Sometimes we were surprised by a double yolk! Word spread and the cooler emptied more quickly. Eventually a sign appeared on the gate: Eggs Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday only. Quel dommage.

Then, competition from around the corner. Another blue and white cooler, set into long grass beneath a hand-painted sign that looks like it says eggs's, but really says "eggs $5". Bits of straw occasionally cling to the eggshells, and business appears to be slower because you can often find your dozen at the end of the day. The local honey vendor further along and around the corner had often offered eggs for sale. Here the cartons wait inside an old fridge on the porch, with fresh vegetables in season. When the first vendor started charging $6 per, this vendor did too. Not the eggs's people, though. The sign still says "eggs $5".  Now, not far from the original cooler, there's another. More fresh, free-range eggs, these at $5 per, too. This may have been what prompted the first supplier to modify. Instead of only the giant eggs for $6, there are now cartons of small eggs for $3 per.  And sometimes there are cartons-full in the late afternoon. Individual farm incomes may be falling as more egg suppliers get in on the traffic, but with four vendors to choose from in a distance of about a mile, there is never a shortage of eggs.

Nearly time for the school bell, but instead it sounds like someone is trying to work the creaks out of a squeaky door, back and forth, slowly enough that it's actually a squeaky chatter. But loud, too loud for a door. I can just see the white at the top of a towering cedar, the distinctive head of a bald eagle that, like the great blue heron, looks more impressive than it sounds.

Thunder storms rarely occur here, but just after what would be sunset, if the sun were visible, lightning flashes through the window and there is that high cracking sound of thunder that makes you want to grit your teeth. Soon, stars on the street as heavy rain splashes pavement. One more flash. More of a pause. Thunder, then the third zag of quick white light and, beats later, a receding grumbling as grey clouds above the water shred, slough and separate, becoming lighter even as darkness falls.