Since early spring of this year, Cooper and I have been spending mornings at Waverly Park. Almost as soon as we started, Cooper needed a ramp for our just-after-sunrise strolls. We settled into the ramp and Waverly mornings as the way we began our days.
Summer has seemed nearly perfect for us or maybe it just seems that way because of Waverly. The thick carpet of grass, rich with dew, anticipates the heat of the day while the still waters of Waverly Pond mirror the day’s possibilities, an idyllic frame for every summer’s day.
We don’t have a usual path through the park that surrounds Waverly Pond, although we are partial to an initial stroll among the pines and dogwood. We weave in and out and among the mosaic mulch of pine straw and leaves long fallen. Shoots of coarse grass serve as sentinels for the forest bed.
Almost every morning we follow the arc of shade to a ring of crape myrtles–white and watermelon when in bloom—they are the gateway to a canopy of live oaks, primeval in their presence. The circular, gray-gravel path beneath the canopy of limbs winds round magnolia trees too young to know their first blossom. Who knows their promise?
Some mornings, we cross the bridge that holds the world away from Waverly. I watch the waters for turtles and fish–they surface more often than not–always, I wave in friendship. Cooper explores the bridge for the scent of those who have come before. He has taught me that no two crossings are ever the same.
On those mornings that we cross the bridge, we never sit at the gazebo for there is much to explore. These are mornings when Cooper’s legs are working as we both remember them, without one wobble. We admire the scent of the rose bushes but Cooper keeps his nose much closer to the ground, examining the gazebo full circle. Soon, I am given to looking out on the pond.
The turtle row launch is generally busy, negotiating space for incoming and outgoing, big or small. On less crowded mornings, a lone egret will land but the concrete of the launch is not as inviting as the verdant growth along the shores of Waverly pond, even in August. There is much to be discovered as the day begins.
I am grateful to Cooper for these Waverly mornings for it is his heart that holds us fast to our ritual. He has taught me the forever joy of “bye-bye in the car.” It is a lifetime gift, of course. Already there are times that we must settle for the memory of Waverly but for every day we are able, we have a Waverly morning.