Buki and I spent a day in the “big town” for errands. But with a wayside now and then, to stretch our legs, and to play with sticks. I was sent to Kamloops for an echocardiogram, a routine I’ll have to get used to as I age, to look for any worrisome signs related to a genetic disorder that can cause progressive thinning of the heart and aortal tissues. With signs worrisome enough, surgery might be needed. Without surgical intervention, people with my disorder tend not to live very long. But with surgery, we can live a normal lifespan.

I had to lie still for a half hour while my heart was diagrammed visually and audially. It was fascinating to hear the machine sample the sounds made by the various regions of my heart. The double beats, the rapid swishing of the blood flowing with each contraction, the curiously gritty sound, as if my blood were effervescent, filled with champagne bubbles. As the sonogram device pressed into one part of my ribcage and then moved to another, the sounds changed. At one point, it wasn’t a double beat. There’s some portion of my heart that works to a triple beat, a thumpthumpthump thumpthumpthump thumpthumpthump. My heart dancing a waltz. Better that than the heart’s characteristic double-beat quick-step funeral dirge.

I’ve shied away from doctors for most of my life. Others need medical care more than me. I’ve been so vigorous and energetic through most of my life, I haven’t needed checkups. And I’m too busy to slow down for the doctors.

Because I could not stop for Death –/He kindly stopped for me –

Balsamorhiza sagittata/Arnica cordifolia

A spring trip to Kamloops brings me to some of the more southerly flora of my childhood. The balsamroots are having a banner year. Great grassland hillslopes extravagantly brilliant yellow. But the errands list was so long, I had no time to stop to see and photograph the great displays. Only just a pee stop at a wooded wayside by the highway, and a few quick photos where there were only a few paltry edge-of-their-range balsamroots, plus Buki’s requisite stick play. So many errands, and the trip to the hospital, where I arrived breathlessly late. They let me into my appointment anyway.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste/And I had put away/My labor and my leisure too/For His Civility –

(Lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I could not stop for death)

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