Thursday, June 12, 2008

Central to West

I love the high desert. The sun beats down from a clear sky, white clouds scattered to the east, half a moon glows pale from the blue, the dark half of the moon disappearing in a color that looks too perfect to be natural and is ultimately natural. Smells of sagebrush and juniper; the dank smell of rodent nests in a cave.

The wind blows, bringing a chill that battles the sun. The thermometer says sixty degrees but in the sun and out of the wind it is sweaty warm; in the shade and the wind it is cold, crisp. 'Crisp' is such a good word for a dry cold.

The canals and rivers shine in the sun like solid things. The rimrocks stand like fortresses above the valleys. Snowy mountains reflect the light like fake ivory, the shadows on the glaciers an eerie blue, darker than the sky.

Tomorrow we drive, a long trip I used to take as a child. My mother wishes to see her mother's grave. We will juggle her oxygen tanks into the car and drive and talk. Over the mountains I see on the horizon, through the alpine forests and the rain forests and to the edge of the ocean where we will place flowers on a grave. I know what my mom will be thinking as she breathes through tubes and looks at a stone with a name and a pair of dates. It has the feeling of a quest, a journey to say hello and goodbye while there is still time.

In one day, the smell of sage and salt sea; the open vista of the desert and the dense green of the coast range; sunburn and probably rain; poking at the line of life and death.


Anonymous said...

I flew back to Chicago this week to pick up my mother and sister and drive to Ft. Wayne to bury my father. Walking around the family plot. Had a good, too-long-delayed conversation with my grand-parents' tombstones.


Anonymous said...

Every time I visit my parents' grave (They are buried one on top of the other) I say hello and goodbye all over again.
Walking through life without that parental safety net is sometimes emotionally scary...maybe that makes for growing up?