This is the place I discovered last year in May when the cacti were in bloom. And it was our first time seeing a cactus flower. It gives you the tingles. No pun, it does. You want to become a bee for the privilege of loading your insect pants with cactus flower pollen. A green bee. They exist.
Today is cloudy and the wind wraps us up in occasional shivers. It dies down just a bit as we follow the path. Dry dirt, past tracks of people and bikes and dogs, and the smell of sage, strong as we brush against the bushes still drowsy, awakened too son from winter, grumpy with sunshine that is too intrusive, too betraying of a spring that’s not here to dance with yet.
We have a companion, my dog friend, the dog of my friend. He runs ahead, waits, sniffs, runs again, returns, a furry pioneer smelling the wind and letting it ruffle its long smooth hair. It’s easy to become dependent on that gaze he throws back… Are you coming? Yes, do, the wind will ruffle your hair too… smell the world we’re in, it’s intoxicating. He knows. A dance forgotten. You have to smile back and catch the wind in your hair or else.
The trail snakes up, so steep you almost fall backwards, so you lean forward and see the dust up-close. You’re a higher expression of it. Dust is all. Walking, dancing. Dust…
Remember the boys on the day of the cactus flowers… They were running and dust was swirling behind them and back then both had long hair and the sky was blue. A swallowtail butterfly was resting on a purple flower that looked like a goblin’s head full of purple hair…
Remember that boys grow; they turn back to smile every now and then, and you should do too. Never mistake their wind and dust-grimaced faces for grumpiness. You will though, it’s how you’re taught of opening the door that lets your heart dance outside, naked of pretense and belief that you know it all. You never will. Humbleness to go… to grow.
We walk, Max and I, and the city gurgles on one side and the silent hills grow on the other. We’re in between. Dog, me, him. Up and down, dance, know that life is happening now, learn to see life and the moments that happen as you blink. Breathe. Chests inflate with wings that stir the dust as you make our way to secret, quiet places.
I kneel by it, I see more. There are Ponderosa pines dripping with sounds of birds singing of wind and worry, and all is as it should be. We walk far enough to find a spot with dried grasses, among fragrant sage. We sit down. Quiet. The mountains to the east have freckles of snow. They ache for more. There should be more. We sit, aware of so much, graceful to let the silence be. Dog, me, him. Sit, eyes on skies that move, thoughts that want to fly but stop right there. Just for a bit. Take it all in, leave everything aside and know that this moment will never come again.
Dog whines… he wants to move. We smile. Yes, let’s. The wind picks up and we walk. Hold on. We will come back. You’re tied to a place that echoes your heartbeat.
We drop off dog friend, then we sit, and eat and talk. Sip tea, talk softly. What if… Dreams and rewinding life. Be kind, rewind… We learn by rewinding, we step with truth and when the path is too steep we lean forward; for balance. There is a path to follow.
There is much to learn as we step alongside each other, boys in tow. It is portal to a magic land. Watching kids grow. You forget that they can be pirates and roaring dinosaurs and their growing pains are real. But their hugs are sweet and their eyes remind you of stories once told, of snuggles where seeds of patience and unconditional love were planted long ago. You tell the stories again, you have to… The language is kindness. You teach it to them, they speak it.
We walk along the river, stop to sit on rocks near the old metal bridge. Cold and quiet, the river laps in waves small and relentless. Let’s measure time by the lapping sounds. Me, him, a river so wide and deep. We’re here. Again.
Two ducks skid on the water surface. Him, her, water so green. They take turns putting their heads in. Head in, head out… Repeat. How human of them. They stare, I say hello. I have to. I love to, I always do. It reminds me of connections we so easily forget. In the middle of the river, a sand bank speckled with birds. Loud and pretty. We smile. Hands are warm and together.
Time to pick up little boy. Little boy and his friend. They have the same name and they delight in tiny things whispered in the back seat as we drive home. Sharks and giggles, and all that becomes when children are free to play.
‘Mom, was Ringo in here today?’
‘Yes love, we took him for a walk… ‘
Remember last summer when dog and boys piled up in the back and we drove to a lake that had clear water but also mucky shores and leeches?… ‘Yuck’ said the boys, fascinated and disgusted at once. Wet dog, wet boys on the drive back, moments that will always be.
Home… Boys keep on playing, running, chasing each other, laughing out loud, chewing on crunchy apples and popcorn made in the big pot… no kernels burnt today. Silliness. Hide and seek. Whirlwinds of now.
I make coffee, we sit and sip. Max, me, swirls of coffee smells, a day of time and stillness, coffee to slow down time that picks up again like the wind of the hill we roamed on today, following the path where memories of summers and flowers live, where we plant dreams of what’s to come and dogs run wild, tussled hair over brown eyes that know you know… Time, preciousness of bits we make ours every now and then, skies that bloom into storms, and then storms pass and new skies return.
The living room hides a bouquet of roses and the air is inundated by Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. Among the loud sounds of boys, whispers of days past and promises of kind presence, life happens here, true. Every day.
‘Mom, can we snuggle and read about sharks tonight?’
‘Yes we can.’
‘And the tickling that you do?’
We call it as it is. Good night.