I’d heard about an Eckhart Tolle book, Guardians of Being, that sounded fun, and decided I’d stop by Village Books in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham to see if they had it in stock. First I stopped in at Tony’s to get a mocha from one of my favorite baristas – who showed me her latest tattoo – and then I sauntered across the street to Village Books to ask about the Tolle book. The young woman there looked it up on the computer for me and saw they had it in stock as a used book. While I went downstairs to see if I could find it, the woman who’d looked it up for me called ahead and asked the woman on the bottom floor to look for me when I came down the stairs. So when I appeared downstairs there was another young woman waiting for me – “You looking for Tolle?” she asked, smiling – and then led me right to the Guardians of Being. Now THAT, my friends, is customer service!
I took my new book and my mocha and headed to the path that would take me to the boardwalk along the bay. Before I started down the ramp to the boardwalk I decided I’d sit down on a bench and read Guardians of Being right then. Why wait, right? So I made myself comfortable and started reading my new book. It was a delightful read – very sweet, and profound. The illustrations by Patrick McDonnell were fun and made me grin. I was glad I’d bought it. It’s written for children and I was able to start and finish Guardians of Being in probably ten minutes.
After I finished my new book, I started down the ramp and to the boardwalk. When I got to the boardwalk I saw a beautiful picture of dolphins and stars, leaning up against the railings of the sheltered area by the dock. I saw the name “Neal” in the corner of it, and knew it had been painted by my new friend, Neal Cronic – I’d just met Neal the week before on the boardwalk. I looked around for Neal, but didn’t see him right away. I wondered if he’d accidentally left this painting behind and began wondering how I could get it back to him. Then I heard his voice calling to me from the area above the railings. He asked me if I liked this painting, and I said I did. He said he’d give it to me for half price. I told him I’d pay full price for it, but he would hear none of it. So I rooted around in my purse to see if I could come up with the money. I wasn’t able to find as much as I was hoping – but then I remembered the book I’d just bought at the bookstore – and it came to me that I’d bought Guardians of Being for Neal – so I gave Neal the money I’d found and Tolle’s book for the painting. Neal smiled and accepted the money and the book, and we talked for a bit, then, about the opportunities and adventures Life has given us recently. I told him I’d bring him a copy of my newest book, The Brush of Angel Wings, when we next met on the boardwalk.
After my chat with Neal I continued on my walk. I glanced over to the left and saw an animal – a seal, I thought – swimming into shore. I got out my camera and zoomed in and snapped a quick photo. But after I took my picture I realized that it looked more like a dog than a seal. When I got to Boulevard Park I saw a wet dog racing after a ball – one of the fastest dogs I’ve ever seen – and I asked the dog’s human if this had been the animal swimming in the bay. He answered in the affirmative. Mystery solved.
Later, as I was heading back up the boardwalk, I saw the dog again – this time chasing after the ball and leaping into the water from Taylor’s Dock. The sheer athleticism of the pup was really impressive, and I had to make a quick video. I walked down to the dock to find out more. I learned the dog’s name is Charlie, and was given permission to post my Charlie images.
As I was walking back up the ramp a man passed me and said, “What a beautiful painting! Did you paint that?” I told him no – that Neal Cronic was the artist, and that he could often be found on the boardwalk, selling his work. The man nodded, filing away Neal’s name in his head.
I’m home now, and about to hang Neal’s picture on my wall.
It was a morning of gifts.