Monday, June 9, 2008

High Spring

Sometimes, even when you aren't aren't expecting one or hardly think you deserve it, the universe hands you the loveliest of afternoons, when the sky is a rich, deep blue without a cloud, the kind you remember from childhood summers, and the air is filled with darting insects which glow golden in the light, like dancing dust, and somehow manage to stay out of your mouth and away from your eyes. Such was today, when the Cottonwoods were suddenly full and the shade they offered was solid and complete, and even though the afternoon was warm and not quite hot, their far-reaching shadows offered unexpected and simple comfort as their seeds, white and fluffy, drifted all around through the air, mingling with the gnats, a June snow storm that drifted across the grass and caught on the edges of the paths like candy-coating. June, not October––resplendent with color and tragedy and dulled by layers of clothing and layers of emotion––is my favorite month. An enormous pelican, gangly as a Great Dane, and pale, floated on the lake, paddling aimlessly across the tranquil water, his head and beady red eyes peering into the green murk for the big fish which jump and slap themselves against the water. We must've watched him for twenty minutes as the joggers and other walkers moved past us, entirely ignorant of his quiet, graceful hunt. In Lilley Gluch, where we have not walked for several weeks, the afternoon seemed to stand still and all the world held its breath as the sun hovered above the mountains, painting the grass and trees and paths a kind of gold that can not be enriched even by memory. The Russian Olives are at their peak so I stopped and plucked big clumps of leaves and blossoms to carry home and keep protected for those months when their scent could not seem further away. Duncan trotted lazily in front of me, lost in his own thoughts and occasionally getting quite far ahead but suddenly realizing it and so stopped and turned and waited for me, the place where his red body meets the air dazzlingly outlined by the sun. The ferns along the path were huge and far more lush than I would've expected out here on the edge of the high prairie. They seemed out of place, a lost tribe who wandered away from Oregon or the California coast and somehow found their way here where they settled and made the most of it. On the path ahead of us a man and his small son were working with their chocolate lab, tossing things that looked like dead ducks into the creek and the tall, stiff reeds that line its shore, where the dog leapt and cavorted and retrieved. Perhaps it was the light or the nostalgia I feel on days like this, but the way they moved seemed so familiar, the turn of the man's head, the swing of his son's arms as he ran after the dog, the shape of their hands; I might've known them a long time ago, maybe not even in this life, but I felt my heart well up at the sight of them, as I would upon seeing an old friend from a distance.

There are few things in this world that are perfect but I will go on record claiming that this afternoon, this glorious day with Duncan plodding ahead of me, his tail wagging at each new discovery of bird or bee, was as perfect as I've ever witnessed.

3 comments:

caboval said...

*****Sigh****** I feel like Im right there with you when I read your posts! I have never smelled a russian olive branch! How do they smell?

Curt Rogers said...

They smell like the sweetest happiest memory of the best summer of your life, the one you look back on the most and wish you could somehow revisit. They smell like morning and sunset all at once, like cool and heat, home and adventure. You really must seek one out.

Greg said...

Curt, this is just damn beautiful. Great writing, thanks for bringing me along!