I opened the lid on my huge water tank and dipped a little pitcher in to get hot hot sun-heated water. Then I sat naked in a green plastic chair in the late afternoon heat-of-the-day on the Barn’s south side shaving my legs. I fully groom my body in sections–shaving pits one day, legs another, washing hair periodically. Because we are blessed with plenty of rainfall, every day at the very least I rain-water rinse off the dust and, when needed, perhaps after a day of hauling branches or slinging gravel, I soap down, scour, and sluice. The desert is generally clean and not grimy. The dust is pure mineral cooked to biological inertness by UV rays. Mostly I take care not to strip my body of its precious oils. In blazing sun, where tiny beads of sweat evaporate before they ever drip, the oils protect me. Desert bathing is different than in humid climates.
I felt strange that afternoon. I had been going from one thing to the next, stopping and sitting, not really ‘doing then resting’ but instead ‘doing restfully’. This desultory, not-unpleasant sensation was unusual for me. I felt like a sailor always trimming the sails. What fell by the wayside was an elongated stretch of action. Action was picked up and put down, and this didn’t bother me. Perhaps nothing between actions distracted or derailed me. The flow had an inherent pacing fitting my natural needs.
One afternoon, as I wash my torso, I feel my mother intensely. I reach a hand across my body, drag the soapy washcloth up the side of my ribs, my breast hanging over my hand. The cloth is rough and luxurious, my breast gelatinous, and I remember, as a little girl, watching my mother bathe. She had ample breasts and by then, after two children, a roll of soft flesh ringing her belly which slid luxuriantly as she scrubbed. She looked comfortingly solid, large and cozy, somewhere I could snuggle and nap. I have always been toned and often slender with small breasts, and I never imagined that my own flesh would soften, but as my tissues age, I drape. Today as I wash and feel my mother, I am comforted. She has appeared inside me in such a physical way.
I opened the door last night, a moonless night, and saw such a wash of stars! The Milky Way falling over me, a snow of cold, far light.
I couldn’t sleep last night. I cried a lot, missing Dad, missing Mom. Not missing my past but their company on this Earth today, which is slipping away. I missed the timelessness and stability they carried in their arms and which I’ve enjoyed all my life. How fortunate I have been. I went out to look at the night sky. And I wondered, despite its awing presence and beauty, what I am doing in this remote place. I have an extraordinary nest here in the wilds, one that my father thoroughly supported and inspired and which my mother, though she didn’t quite understand it, was a bit admiring of, curious about. Neither can share this vision as it comes to fruition. In a way that makes it wholly mine, but mostly I feel the absence of their lifelong witness and pleasure in my endeavors. They always thought I was a good person and an interesting person. How lucky I am to have had that support.
I look out the back stretch that has no long view but sees desert meadow and trees. I am swamped with a curious unfamiliar yet bone-close passion and contentment. It connects to a recurring dream from childhood that, at the time, was as if I had been snatched from life and taken to another planet. In my parents’ house, in their world, I dreamt this dream in which I didn’t belong to their world.
I am traveling through a realm of snow. It is blizzarding and I am lost, yet not frightened. From time to time the snow lessens, the world lightens, but then white whirls around me again. It is neither day or night.
This dream laced through my childhood, always filling me with a particular sensation. Looking out over this mesa meadow, the same sensation fills me, as if the long ago dream was an emissary to the court of this meadow, now, which has the talent of drawing me home to Elsewhere.
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