Some Mondays are more Monday than others.
Take last Monday. My sister and her husband had arrived overnight, first family to visit since March. Redheaded woodpeckers directly outside my screened porch helped me race through the crossword. I saw a wood stork carrying a piece of pizza down the sidewalk across from the post office downtown. Hurricane Sally’s trailing winds made the day gray and windy. Perfect to tackle some dreaded weeding. This was shaping up to be an odds-defying Monday.
Testing a new Japanese hand tool against the embedded roots under a loose mosaic of hexagon blocks, I got hot and tired despite the overcast skies. Perhaps it was inevitable that I’d toss the Samari-sharp blade, lift an adjacent hex block with two fingers, feel the weight as the block began to slip and then collide with my extended right middle finger, stare in horror as the blood began to spurt and drip. In the pantheon of learning-to-live-alone lessons, figuring out how to function in an emergency is a hard one.
I survived, sans stitches, thanks to the advice of a wise medical friend and perhaps Arnica and Pyrogen. No tendons or nerves were severed. A best friend, one experienced in solo living, showed up unexpectedly and talked me off the ledge. To say I was lucky is a gross understatement; but my magical Monday had taken a decided turn.
Early to pick up my mother, I pulled into a park near my childhood home and got the primo parking place. Glancing up, I saw the double rainbow captured above (you have to squint to see the second arc) and decided Monday’s graph was turning back into positive territory.
A pickup truck pulled in at an angle behind me and an older (maybe?) Black man started unloading buckets and rods. I leaned out my window and called, “Excuse me!” He looked up, cautious. “I’m leaving in just a minute. I can move if you want this space?” He called back that his spot was just fine.
Thus began one of the best fifteen minutes I’ve spent in a good long while.
I started peppering him with questions about fishing, a new topic of fascination only because I took a second (the shame to admit) cruise through all of Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels. This time, I read them in order. This time, I paid close attention to the details of both fishing and Santeria. Both would prove significant.
Before exchanging names, this man revealed the specific location of his secret hole. We had chatted enough to establish without confirming we’d both grown up on the south side of St. Pete. From the briefest description, even non-fishing me knew exactly where he was referencing. I teased, “I promise to tell only one other person.”
“I pull up and see all them boys lined up, I know who done it,” he laughed, but I noted a faint frown. I immediately amended to tell no one. He nodded.
I summarized what I knew about fishing holes from my Doc Ford education and he confirmed all was true, plus more. I told him my best friend from high school lived right across the bend in the bay from where we talked. He told me about the “90 year old man, he ripped” who now owned that house. Apparently this “90 year old man” makes exactly one cast of his mullet net every day, then returns inside. My friend and her mother were happy to hear this unexpected update on their former home. I’m not convinced my new friend’s eyesight is the best, but the new owner of my high school friend’s house most definitely fishes from the dock her father built and that’s what matters.
Now late to pick up my mother, I leaned out to face him and at last, make a formal introduction. “Thank you so much for talking to me. You have no idea how much I needed this today.”
His engaging smile widened. “Aw, you got a sweet spirit, that’s all.”
That’s when I glanced down and noticed he wore an unusual necklace: six white beads and six red beads on a simple leather cord. Once again, thanks to Doc Ford, I knew instantly this was a sign of someone at least marginally interested in a deity named Chango from the Cuban or even Bahamian Santeria traditions. When I looked up Chango later, I found a painting. Caramel colored skin, pale blue eyes. He’s described as the “ruler of thunder, lightning, fire, and war … sacred number is six … an incorrigible woman chaser and a lover of food and dance.”
Monday redeemed and then some.