The remnants of a tree root hangs on the side of the pavilion next to the door. A piece of the main root extends down and to the left, two shorter roots to the right and a whimsical face is carved in the middle. Wide open, intently staring eyes peer out under sturdy eyebrows that sweep elegantly in a gentle curve to each side and down to a long nose that curves curiously to the left. Cheekbones, sturdy and prominent circle the lips and mouth, bulging a bit in that peculiar manner of old men. The lips are full and parted just so slightly, as if he knows something that no one else knows despite the fact that it is perfectly obvious.
In the window next to him is my reflection, holding the camera, trying to get everything framed just right. My nose and mouth aren’t curved off to one side in such a curious manner, but there are many obvious similarities nonetheless. My hair is white, his is a very blond brown and much lighter than the rest of him. The dark eyebrows, the folds below my cheekbones, perhaps even the “secret smile” that Susan loves to talk about.
It’s a conversation we are having – the days of our youth when he was green and flexible, waving his limbs gently in the breeze, the dark green leaves providing a bit of shelter to the baby birds clamoring in their nest as their mother tries to feed each of them. Me when I was flexible, strong, dashing here and there to deal with the “important things” – including the fishing and hiking trips with my kids, the golf, the tennis and trying somehow to give them the tools to deal with their lives when I had no clue myself.
Now we are both a bit stiff and dried out, just shadows of our former selves and sharing the joke of our presumed self-importance when we were young.