Myopic Collisions: The Storm

  

My typical morning begins with a half hour walk with my dog Ginnie.  Our route seldom changes so we are very familiar with this particular cluster of streets. She checks in at her favourite spots with consistency. I welcome the chance to just let my mind wander. And even though it's pretty quiet here, there's always something that catches my attention.  This morning the gentle cooing of a mourning dove draws my gaze upward to where it perches on the hydro wire above.  I notice new appliances being delivered to the house on the corner and a handmade "Thank you First Responders!" poster in the front window of the McNab's bungalow.

Up ahead I see my neighbour's daughter Blaire approaching with her dog Ben. Ginnie spots them too and I feel the tug of recognition on the leash. Ben's her good buddy. Blair however, appears oblivious. As usual she is looking down at her phone clutched in her right hand. Her left arm is extended as Ben pulls her forward. I always find this perplexing. How can she not trip? Did she even see the bright orange daylilies now in full bloom lining the driveway she just passed? She's missing so much, I think to myself.

I make sure to say "hi" first to let her know I'm there. Glancing up she responds with a smile "oh, hi!". We exchange a few pleasantries then carry on our way. I don't need to look back to know she's returned to her phone. This brings to mind an article I read recently in the Toronto Star about a new app that uses the phone's rear camera to detect objects in real time alerting the person who is phone distracted of an impending collision. It was invented by a student who had witnessed a serious accident between two people on the sidewalk in front of his home in Scarborough. Phones went flying, their screens shattered. One person was sent to hospital with facial lacerations.

 

The distant rumble of thunder interrupts my train of thought. I look up and see ominous dark clouds rolling over the blue sky. A few heavy drops of rain splat down. Ginnie urges me to pick up our pace. She's anxious to get home. We reach our front door just as the deluge begins. From my kitchen window I watch as a sudden gust of wind topples several recycling bins sending their contents tumbling down the street. Tree branches collide with force launching twigs and leaves in all directions. A flash of lightning illuminates the scene, now an eerie shade of greenish grey, followed quickly by a crack of thunder that sends Ginnie slinking downstairs to the basement. I'm watching the bedlam unfold outside when I catch sight of Ben hauling Blaire up their driveway. Both are soaking wet and dishevelled.

Blaire is looking down at her phone.

(To view the art that accompanies this story, click here.)