Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Crimson Glow and a Lesson in Patience

I have been keeping my eyes and nose on the blooming Russian Olive trees that line Bowles and the ones that grow up along the trail around the lake. Friday evening Duncan and I ventured down there for a stroll around the unmoving water and were delighted to discover the tiny yellow butter-mint-scented flowers were beginning to bud but had not yet opened up. The sage-colored leaves were dusty and long but offered no smell whatsoever, even when I scooped them up in my hands and pressed my face into them. I figured a few more days and they'd be ready to go. I have waited long months for that fragrance that sustains me throughout the rest of the year, the one that reminds me of driving through the mountains of Idaho with April, of cool evenings sipping peach iced-tea and watching a yellow moon rise over the mountains, of speeding down the long, straight stretches of empty, late-night road on the reservation, following the line of the river and breathing in the intoxicating fumes of the trees that grow like weeds there. A few more days and I'd be good for the next eleven months.

I am like a junkie when it comes to the Russian Olives. I cannot get enough of them. I dream of them in the deep, dark winter months and as Spring begins its slow explosion around us my eyes seek them out the same way Duncan watches the grass for the bunnies and the branches for the squirrels darting overhead. The past two days have been impatient ones for me. As Ken and I ran errands yesterday, the windows down in the car, I could smell them in distant, contained pockets throughout the city and each time we passed through their sumptuous fog I had to restrain myself from jumping out of the car to seek them out and revel in their delight. Patience, I told myself. You have waited this long, another day won't kill you.

Today has been the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures exceeding 90˚. The sky is a searing white due to the fires down in the southwestern corner of the state and Arizona. The light seems pale and far away but the haze is thick and weighty and not easy move through. The shadows we cast are dark but ringed by a crimson glow, making me feel as though we're walking on some alien, red, grassy world where the air is smoke and does not move. There has been no breeze. The Tibetan bells and chimes that hang around my patio have been limp and silent and the water at the lake is as smooth as glass. This is not the June I have dreamed about.

We ventured out this afternoon in the heat of the day. Not even the grass, long and tall and soft because it has gone to seed, was cool. Duncan followed along languidly at my side, the leash hanging slack between us. We crossed the park, which was filled with families gathered for games of volleyball and cookouts, with fathers trying desperately to coax their child's kite into the unmoving, stubborn air, with walkers strolling the lake path like dazed, melting shadows of themselves. I hoped for the yellow blossoms on the trees and was rewarded for my patience, but while Duncan laid on his side, the leash coiled motionless around him and I breathed in the trees, all I could smell was that damn smoke. Over and over I tried but without luck. They are ready for me and I could feel them quaking with my anticipation, but the air would not cooperate and refused to yield even the slightest trace of a fragrance, only the tease of their delicate, golden flowers.

So I will be patient. Again. Perhaps tomorrow, which should be cooler, we can walk there and sit in the grass watching the ducks paddle wakelessly across the evening lake and receive the reward that will see me through the long dark winter, when their memory is nearly the only thing that pulls me through the night.


Cathy said...

Curt this is how I feel about Lilac Trees. It was so great to finally get to smell them in the wind this year as they do not grow in Texas I haven't been able to smell them. It is one of the best smells in the world to me. Enjoy your trees cuz!!!

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Sidra shahid said...

Another great article. I like that you are very honest and direct to the point