Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dream

9:00 p.m.

I set the book on the nightstand. Cheyenne's eyes are closed. We've each taken a turn reading. I'm tempted to read on in silence, but I love the sound of the words out loud, especially Cheyenne's voice, mellow and sweet.

I scooch down in the bed, tuck the pillow under my neck just so, bring the cotton comforter up around my ears, and spoon against Chey. She settles into the S of my body and I, already, I dream.


It is spring. I know this because the apple orchard is pink with blossoms. The sky is clear spring cerulean blue, the blue before the earth begins to release its summer filters of gas and farm dust.

I walk on the spongy orchard soil, twigs and leaf mold giving way to green and yellow grass shoots. I am wearing a long dress, itself sprigged with apple blossoms so lively I imagine I could pluck them. In my fingers is a blue sash from which dangles an oversized straw saucer hat.

Mother will chastise me later for the hint of sunburn on my skin, but I turn my face to the glow now and soak in the brilliance.

There. The biggest, oldest, gnarliest apple tree of all, the one that was there when my father and mother settled this land, before there was a house, before there were barns, before the orchard.

Before.

Stood that tree.

I embrace the tree, the bark and knobby trunk against my face, against my bare arms where the sleeves of the dress fall away. It breathes with me.

Still dreaming, knowing it's a dream, I waken, my back against the tree, legs outstretched in front of me, hat in my lap. Before I quite open my eyes, I smell cat. Musky. Big. Tawny. Wild. She is purring--loud Cougar purr.

I am afraid to open my eyes. I have had this dream before. If I open my eyes, she won't be there.

I lift one eyelid, heavily, hesitantly. Through the lashes, I see her. I will myself to take my breath long and slow, but it catches in my throat. Too late. She knows I've seen her.

She gets up. Stretches her strong, muscled body long, longer, her front legs far out in front, almost touching my toes. She widens her paws and flexes her claws, each one big as an eagle's beak. She licks my toes.

Where are my shoes? And in that moment of looking away, she is gone.


I do not wake from this dream right away. I curl against Cheyenne again, hugging her gently and close. In the air, I catch the scent of a big cat. Cougar air. Murgatroid growls. I do not wake from this dream just yet. My toes are moist.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Nest

6:30

Cheyenne and I say good night to our dinner mates and head up the path toward our bungalow. The air is redolent with Jasmine and honeysuckle. I breathe deeply, pulling in the fragrances, the cool evening air through my mouth, my nostrils, my ears and pores.

Cheyenne tucks her arm around my waist and I lean my head on her shoulder.

"Aren't we about the luckiest two people alive," I ask.

"No, we are!" Sixteen year-old Jason and Tawnya skip past us, hand in hand, flush with youthful love. They run down the path and out of sight, toward the stream, where very likely they will do more than look at tadpoles.

Cheyenne and I turn to one another and smile, eyes twinkling.

Ah! These summer nights, cool after a warm day, the fog rolling in and out, trying to decide whether to stay and give us a few cold days, or move on and let the sun out in the morning.

Cheyenne yawns. "I'm sleepy!" she says. Let's go home, snuggle into bed, and read aloud to each other."

We are re-reading an old favorite, The Mistress of Spices. It is set in a time when the world was not yet as peaceful as it is today, when hearts were not as soft or as comfortable in their skins. But the rich language, the textures and mystery draw us again and again to the story.

At home, comfy in cotton knit jammies, I open the bedroom windows wide. Fully screened, running nearly floor to ceiling, and spanning the east wall, the windows let in first the delicious evening air, then the last call of the big, fat robins, singing to one another as twilight begins to settle.

Murgatroid paces on the porch outside the screens, her nails clicking against the cool slate floor. A breeze stirs the clematis and wisteria vines.

Already in bed, Cheyenne begins to read:

I am turmeric who rose out of the ocean of milk when the devas and asuras churned for the treasures of the universe. I am turmeric who came after the nectar and before the poison and thus lies in between.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sup

5:30 pm

At the community building, Janine playfully blows me a kiss, then propels her chair up the ramp and scoots to the head of the line, where she is greeted warmly.

Making way for the people who plan and prepare the meals we enjoy at Ordinary is one way we show our gratitude.

A light fog rolls in from the west as I wait my turn for the soup tureens. I sniff the air. Co-mingling aromas of garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, and fresh tomato broth call to me the moment I step inside the door. My taste buds tingle.

Tonight I’ll have a large bowl of Benjamin’s minestrone with buttered hunks of homemade, whole wheat sour dough bread.

“I said, you’re a thousand miles away, Rose!”

I turn to Noah, gently touching my arm.

“Noah! It’s true. I was savoring the food smells and the way the fog lets me see the air moving, how it obscures and softens the lines of the hills, changing everything!”

“Always the artist, Rose. How’s the journal coming along?”

“Well, I have to say I am grateful we only have to log one full day. I haven’t minded keeping a journal for the oral history project, but if I had to go around talking into this recorder all day every day, I’d have to think again!”

“It’s exhausting, isn’t it?” Noah smiles, his beautiful wide mouth only slightly open, his dark eyes soft. “Believe me, we all tried it ourselves before we asked other villagers to keep a log for a full day.”

Noah is the village librarian. Not only does he provide access to a whole world of literature, art, and music, but he is also responsible for maintaining the historical archives. That includes cajoling villagers into accepting journaling assignments for the oral history project.

“How is the project coming, Noah?”

“We have twenty-five days so far, all from randomly selected villagers and dates. When we have a full year, we will have a wonderful mosaic of village life for generations to come.”

Catching Cheyenne’s eye, I wave to her, already seated, and apparently keeping the table in stitches. Laughter erupts from their corner again and again.

“Noah, Cheyenne has saved me a seat at cook’s table. Won’t you join us?”

Noah’s mouth opens to a full grin, his buttery-chocolate face rosy with pleasure.

“Sure, Rose. Betty is helping Jacob nurse Mollie’s calf and I'm on my own tonight.” He winks, taking my arm. “You know I’ll talk shop.”

“I’m counting on it, Noah." I lean my head into his--conspirators. "Now what’s the latest in the world of cello. Cheyenne’s birthday is coming up.”