Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traveling Dreams

I have been up in the cool North slaving for my sister. I say slaving with tongue in cheek. Actually it was a labor of love.

Juliana and her cheeky outlaw husband often have the opportunity to go on magnificent trips to far off climes. I suppose I have no real right to be jealous of that, but I am. I have so many places I'd love to go, Ireland being on the top of my list.

I want to see and experience everything before the tyrants of this world glop everything together in one gray, homogenized lump, like what happens to Play Dough when you mix the colors together. I'm afraid that those things which make each region unique will be bludgeoned out of them by people who have no idea what they are breaking.

I want to see their native costumes. I want to eat their food and watch (and possibly dance) their dances. I want to hear their music played and sung by the people who love what they're doing. I want to experience their history and learn their stories told by them, not by lying propagandists. I want to hear them speak in their own languages and try my best to understand them.

But it's all rapidly vanishing into the uncertain past. Everyone learns English now. Everyone is getting McDonalds and wearing the same clothing. As more countries fall to the ax of depleted economics, they cave in to the demands of their 'benefactors' and join the goopy homogenization.


I want to see it before it's gone. I want to keep everything alive in my head when it's all been sucked away down a dank crevasse. As in the book Fahrenheit 451, I want to remember.

But other than that, it was a fun (and cool) couple of two week trips!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monsoon Moon

At last the blistering misery of the summer heat is easing slightly.

Before the towering black air castles dump their waterfalls of lifesaving water, we still hibernate in our darkened caverns and pray for surcease. The heat bakes the ground so hard that anything planted wilts to dessicated brown sticks within hours. Animals won't even come out to eat. The air is leaden and breathing is chore-some.

Then the cloud castles crack, sending out their invisible cannonballs and the sky comes alive with a fury of sound and light. Within seconds the curtains of rain descend; slashing the shriveled leaves from their bushes; filling every divot and gully; sending up steam from the baking streets; sluicing down the dusty walls; making rivers of the roads and alleys. Trees and sometimes power poles topple and wires careen crazily across roads and lawns. Palm fronds go whipping past in a flurry of brown-tipped green flotsam.

We run out into the deluge and are instantly drenched and shivering, but it's a welcome chill. We roll up our pants and stomp through the puddles. Court and Bear, on a dare, lie down in the river of muddy water. Luckily there is a shower at the end of their scenario.

Suddenly little pebbles mean nothing to our thirsty feet as we wade down the new stream to the wash, looking for shiny pebbles and strange treasures. The chocolaty water sweeps down the wash and out into a desert delta, past the bike jumps and debris the bikers have left in their wakes. We send leaves and feathers down the streams, hoping to see them emerge downstream. The furthest traveler makes the 'owner' the winner. They jump around screaming and laughing crazily, secretly just trying to soak the others more completely.

The deluge lasts only a few minutes and then the gray sheets move away across the city to fill other washes and roads. Runnels of muddy water trickle down through the labyrinthine patches of prickly pear and mesquite and then, joining other runnels, rush in freshets into the main wash.

Now the air fills with the scent of creosote and sage and hot blacktop. The rivers become streams, then creeks, then tiny runnels, and then they are gone, sucked at last into the thirsty topsoil. The ants come scurrying out to begin once more their endless quest for a fully stocked larder. The doves and quail emerge.

And the toads come out. The air, now, is full of the deep notes of their mating calls. The desert and yards are alive with toady meet-n-greet sessions. Busier streets fill with squashed toad pizzas.

When the sun has set, the mockingbirds begin their random choirs. There is the occasional soft cooing of a dove. Once again the geckos come out near the porch lights to snack on moths. With the passing of the rain, with the exception of an errant breeze, the mercury toils up and up again until we have come full circle.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Drinking Green

I have been on pilgrimage to the North (or so it seems). Our family had a reunion in Colorado, and then I went with my daughter and her husband and babies first to Utah and thence up through Idaho and Montana, to Washington and then back through to Utah.

It was balm to my waterless soul, this journey. How I have missed the verdant velvet of grass lawn. At every stop I took off my shoes and luxuriated in the tickle of the soft grass on my bare feet. I romped in it, rolled down hills covered in grass like I was a child once more. True I was with my adorable babies. Ace enjoyed rolling down the hill with me. Nathan has yet to develop any liking for grass yet. He sat with his left foot raised above the grass the entire time. I'm sure he would have raised both if he had been able to figure out how.

I have longed for the sight of thorn-less deciduous trees spreading their lacy branches above me--trees I could climb and sit in. We stay sometimes with Nat's in-laws, who are wonderful people. They have hung a swing from the branches of a huge spreading tree in their back yard. I loved sweeping out over their magnificent garden in the seat of that swing. That is a real tree. The aspens of Colorado as they quivered in the breeze--real. They reminded me of the aspens we planted in our yard in Durango. Everyone told us aspens would never grow there. Now those aspens are huge and taking over the yard in all their shimmering loveliness.

We saw fantastic strawberries knee high and gorgeous. We saw farms waving with alfalfa and soy beans and a plethora of other crops. We saw mountains covered with phalanxes of old-growth fir and pine trees, velvety in the distance and towering over us on the passes. We passed through a riot of wildflowers blowing in the breeze and turning whole mountainsides purple and yellow and bright red and orange.

We went to a park garden lush with flowers of all sorts. Part of it reminded me of the Versailles gardens in France--everything set out perfectly, the colors blending into one harmonious whole. There were gardens of perennials, gardens of roses, a Japanese garden, a hothouse full of orchids and varieties of cactus I'd never even seen, living in cactus world as I do. On the hillside, there was a wild portion devoted to forest plants and trees. And best of all, there was a whole garden of LILACS!

Lilacs are my favorite flower. They happen to be my favorite color and their scent is luscious. It fills my nose with memories of childhood--always good--memories of new dresses; Nonnie (my great grandmother); trips across the United States to see relatives back East; of rolling down the hill at church in my Sunday dress and hiding in the lilacs from my sister; memories of hunting through gravestones for relatives in Gunlock, Utah. How I wish I could bathe in their scent, and remember.

This stream of green runs through all of the events of the last two weeks (most of which I won't elaborate on here), bolstering me for the blistering heat of an Arizona summer. I drink it in eagerly, so that the green flows to the tips of my fingers and toes like life-giving blood. Ah the heady, rich scent of growing things flowing up from the ground and into my thankful head--filling me with the richness of elsewhere and elsewhen. God must truly love us to give us such a world in which to grow.