Water flanks my home on both sides. On the east, there's Lake Michigan; on the west, a river runs through the city. I am lucky to be within walking distance of both lake and river - in the morning when I go for my walk, I turn eastward, heading for the lake. Perhaps, it's the expanse of that body of water that draws me. The prospects of catching glimpses of the waves peaking and foaming as they lap the shore, of hearing the boom of surf as I climb down the hill across dry sand, reaching the water's edge where the sand now squishes under my feet. I would walk on the concrete of the breakwater out to the edge. From there, I see the vastness, the all-emcompassing water. White specks in the distance bob from wave to wave. They sometimes take flight, emit a screech or two, and show themselves as gulls as they rise higher in the air.
The river is nestled in a park a stone's throw from my home. For some reason, I often forget its proximity. It winds unobtrusively through neighborhoods, sheltered under weeping willows by the side of a hill.
More recently in the evening after work, I may long to see the glint of the river as I approach it, ascending a hill, walking first through a culvert in which my footsteps reverberate. The vista opens into a wide field as I emerge from the dankness of the culvert, and I see the riverbed through a line of trees.
My heart quickens as I get that first glimpse of the river, the water touched with crimson at this time of day.
Later at home, I make tea. One evening, it is a Thai oolong, a gift from our friend, I. The dry leaves of the oolong are full of a briny aroma that when brewed, unfurl, dark and oblong, in my gaiwan. The taste reminds me of the Jade Oolong, a lightly oxidized tea, more green in nature than black.
Several infusions later, I sit gazing at the overlapping tea leaves on the bottom of the gaiwan. A little of the amber liquor remains to bathe the leaves.
I take the final sip of tea for the day, with the image of fallen leaves carried along by the river still in my mind.