Monday, July 18, 2016

Wings: a day of sightings

This morning, fat little lizards criss-crossed the boulders rimming the canyon drainage basin. I scrambled them too. Swallowtails and dragonflies darted overhead. The Wasatch teem with life this summer. Big cat prints everywhere; scat too. Rabbits and squirrels abound. Bumblebees ride heavy currents up and down the canyon corridor. I've hiked these trails for four years and never have I seen such an abundance of deer. As I rounded a quiet bend, not thirty feet ahead a mountain goat paused, sized me up, and then backed into the drainage ravine.

Over the last three months I've created a ritual for myself, where, in moments of grief or triumph, I load my pack with stones, hike to a quiet, hidden place, and add my stones to this "altar." At first, every time I built I'd come back to find it torn down in what seemed acts of malevolence. But I persisted, found a private place to lay my stones, and in the two months since I laid its foundation this destination has become a reservoir of peace and clarity for me. 

Every stone is a prayer. Here I build my own mountain of joy and woe. Our surgery date to extract the cancerous butterfly from my husband's neck is set for the first week in August. Not that they've ever waned or ceased, our joint heavenly petitions flow wild and pure as my darling philosopher holds my hand on the commute to therapy.

After dropping Mr. PNU off with our therapists at Neuroworx, I spent some time with "Alex" on the island just before the I-15 on-ramp at 10600 South.

Rain, snow, or like today, sweltering shine, I've seen him standing there on and off the past year that my husband has done therapy in Sandy. Today was our third encounter. He's usually in the same shirt, which from a distance I thought was gray, but as I gave him a hug today I noticed it was originally light blue before time, wear, and dirt altered the fabric, and I noted that the cut is baggy enough to give his body the appearance of having more substance than what I wrapped my arms around. His long brown hair is graying at the hairline in a striking manner, not unlike my own, and he pulls it back in a ratted ponytail that flows below his collar. His beard is unkempt and I could see how the dirt had accumulated next to his scalp and beneath his ears. His fingernails are longer than most men keep them, but his calloused handshake is firm and warm.

We chatted about how he's holding up. He's a Cincinnati transplant; wound up one day in Utah. Just has to figure some things out, but wants to stay here—loves it. Has no idea how to make money work to live like the rest of us. We chatted about the canyons, the nature, the mountains. It's my guess he lives there most of the time. Maybe in Little Cottonwood. I pointed out Lone Peak, told him I was itching to get up there, how climbing is soul-cleansing for me.

"I need some of that," he said. "I just don't know how to get there."

I asked him how he's holding up. Day to day is his answer. He swears he's not using or even drinking, and his eyes and conversation are clear enough, I want to believe him. It's hard to say. But he's a beautiful person. Just beautiful. If you see him, if all you can do is roll down your window, smile, and tell him Bonnie said he's a good kid, I'm sure it would make his day.

B— spotted a monarch from the front window of our duplex this afternoon. L— texted me from Bear Lake where she's spending time with her cousins to say she'd had a sighting, herself. Orange and black seems to be making a migratory comeback this year.

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