Belinda has gone home, back to New York, driven to the airport in a snowstorm that I will content myself to describe was “interesting”, and leave it as that.

The house has settled back into its own rhythms. The energies that bounce off the walls are none but my own. The book’s path lay before me to find again under the melting snow of four days’ absence.

The morning walk has revelations. The smell of recent laundry trailing from a neighbor’s passing car. The smell of old booze exhaled from the window of a truck. The smell of damp poultry feathers from the turkey barns on the hill. A smell of almost-spring. And the sky.

The sky is translucent-clouded, many-colored. It is chalcedony.

Chalcedony is a fascinating stone, the color of opal milk. A stone that is, at once, there and not there. I know this because I have spent a lot of time looking at the chalcedony necklace Belinda gave me for my birthday. The rest I had to look up:

“A natural form of silicon dioxide, Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline variety of Quartz. [It has] a waxy lustre, and may be semitransparent or translucent…a nurturing stone that promotes brotherhood and good will.  It absorbs negative energy.  It brings the mind, body, emotions and spirit into harmony.  Chalcedony instills feelings of benevolence and generosity.  It alleviates hostility and transforms melancholy into joy.  Eases self-doubt.  Creates openness and enthusiasm.  Absorbs and dissipates negative thoughts, emotions and bad dreams.”

In other words, it is what Belinda is. Chalcedony is an apt description of her. Concealed and at the same time open. Beautifully mysterious, content to be what it is. You can’t see through it. You want to…sometimes you think you can. But you can’t. And that is just fine.

It is polished and elegant, understated in its magnificence. It doesn’t sparkle in the self-possessed way that a diamond does. And, were you to ask it, I would guess that it doesn’t mind.

Belinda is as tough as nails, as emotionally soft as the fur on a bunny’s tummy, as elusive and indefinable as river mist. She has a finely-tuned bullshit meter that I envy. She speaks her mind without reservation and without the attachments of ego. She is frank and blunt, yet with an exquisite sense of appropriateness for the moment.

She knows her way around a good wine, possesses a highly developed palate, could find her way through a kitchen blindfolded. The same person who will sit happily at the ballet without fidgeting will talk to a cat for an hour, and will wander the riverbank for three more, lost in the finding of stones with nature’s signature written on them.

She is questing, always on the lookout for something interesting to learn, whether it is French or Russian or pottery or architecture. She can converse with equal facility and enthusiasm about the intellectual, the spiritual, fashion or men, or the deep, essential natures of her friends, including this one.

She seems, most of the time, to be fearless. She will talk of harrowing recent ordeals using the word “terror”, an emotion which you never see in her. Under her British reserve (which she has, proudly, never shed), she is more American than I am. She will surprise you. She always does. And I adore her—have you guessed?

She’ll probably grimace reading this. I may expect a raised eyebrow when she does. I don’t care. Get over it…the end.

Among my few and well-chosen friends (and you know who you are), Belinda is chalcedony. And one of the great treasures of my life.