On the Deck with Friends
I sat on the deck with my neighbor Tom Walker last night. He had come over to help refine the downspout to my cistern. Tom, a young 70, is lively and strong. He likes to chat. Though we spent half an hour mulling the downspout, conversation reliably and continuously digressed. (The major aspect of doing projects with neighbors is to hang out.) At last we sat on the deck. The sun was declining, tossing a glorious rosy light across the canyon. Tom, scruffy from a day’s work, ignored the view and relating to me in detail about constructing his septic line—hitting soft dirt, then rock, then soft dirt, then rock. All this was to warn me that I may or may not need his jackhammer when the pole barn guys come and start digging down to set the poles. I had to chuckle. He’s a good man, he really is. And he knows a lot about making things. As well, in my mind, he’s the mesa sheriff. Keeps an eye on everything. Keeps a look out.
My artist-mystic friend, Kathy. The deck was surreal when she was visited me a week ago from Austin. She followed, with a play-by-play, every tiny shift in the panorama of light effects—pure drama of clouds and light, molding, shadowing, highlighting the sensuous mesas and canyons, and the veils of rain covering hollows, then passing to reveal heavenly shafts of golden sun. Rainbows arced abundantly when she was here, not to be seen since. I felt I hadn’t really seen the view, despite how much I look at it until her visual acuity awakened mine eyes. I tend to mix visual, smell, and sensation evenly as I regard the world. The feel of things has a strong impact on me. My eyes sip. Bit by bit.
A young cowboy. He lives on the ranch at the foot of the Apache Mesa Road. As we gaze out, he knows the ranch, that I can only see with binoculars, is La Liendre. He was on a search and rescue the other night just there, he says, pointing the a pinion/cedar encrusted slope 50 miles off. They saw the signal fire. They hiked all night to get to the guy who’d fallen off his horse from a rim. Jamie rolls his eyes. He didn’t believe that tale. He trots down to the rim, comfortable on his feet. “Sweet!” he remarks. He loves the view.