Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Columbus Day Weekend Back Country Camping Trip

A couple of things I wrote in my new journal yesterday morning before leaving our campsite:

"Don't Blink!"

Last night, sleepy, sandy,
we climbed into sleeping bags, eyes scanning the sky for constellations.
"There are too many stars! I can't see them!"

Two girls, teetering on the edge of adolescence complained. They had never seen a shooting star.

We searched the sky, afraid to blink.

And then...

A brilliant ball lit up the sky directly above Juniper Canyon.

So bright, the comet? meteor? star? slid down into the mountains.

I gestured in the dark. Words tangled in my mouth. We gasped. We jumped up. We couldn't believe our luck, the four seconds, five, seemed to stretch on for minutes.

9:36 pm, Sunday night, Robber's Roost campsite. Rose and Lauren, Nora and Katie and I.

I kind of expected to feel the earth shake after such an auspicious sign.

We went back to sleeping bags, afraid to close our eyes, afraid to miss another...


In the pale white light of the headlamp we saw a flicker by the base of the bear box.

Pale, translucent, quickly twitching, the scorpion struck terror and future nightmares into the heart of campers.

"Kill it!" they begged, wishing to eliminate the potential enemy; the threat to their peaceful sleep. Fearful it would make its way to our sleeping bags with its painful, searing sting.

"Leave it! Leave it!" I begged, and we watched it scurry over to a log and crawl in a crack.

Yes. I admit it. I put on a brave front, and went to bed fairly afraid that all the scorpion cousins would find their way into our bedding, carelessly thrown onto rocky ground in the desert.

I prayed that karma would come into play, and our camp guest would spread the word about the fearless warrior woman who bravely displayed courageous mercy.

We awoke the next morning. No sustained stings, bites or other such inflicted injuries during our trip.

note: bear box: a large, metal bin for storing food and other smelly good stuff, with a bear proof latch. There are small, black bear in Big Bend National Park, but we have never been so lucky to see one at our campsites.

guest: I realize that in the desert, we were the true guests, disturbing the scorpion's habitat, and as we were intruders, a sting would have been quite natural and reasonable on the part of the scorpion, especially if we bumped into it and caused it fright. But I am exercising poetic license, and with it, the option of telling the story from my point of view! :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rainy Sunday

Grey blue mist falling
blurs my vision, chills my bones.
Coffee is the fix!

Sometime back I subscribed to a daily devotional put out by Father Richard Rohr, a quite progressive Franciscan monk, a mystic and teacher and writer. His teachings came at a perfect time for me. Each Saturday he offers a contemplative practice to help reinforce the week's teachings. Typically the practice involves being in nature, being still, then doing some type of artistic practice, once a mandala, this week a haiku.

So there you go, I offer you my practice! Silly, I know, but when we dabble in the arts, whether music, poetry, visual arts, we tap into a different part of our self, and that self needs to be expressed and welcomed. I think I am going to ask for a coloring book for my birthday! How many of us have taken on the belief that if we are not good enough to be professional, it is meaningless for us to practice? Today I wish to embrace my mediocrity! And try to have a sense of humor with myself.

It is misty here, interspersed with rain. The temperatures have dropped to chilly, the sounds of the neighborhood are somewhat muffled. I changed into a nice sweater and did indeed make afternoon coffee, even though I might live to regret it this evening. I feel a bit daring, and very much comforted by the coziness. Tabby the cat is curled up tightly on my bed. Brownie and Blackie snooze on the floor at the foot of my bed. The washer agitates, the breeze fills my opened windows with the heavenly scent of freshly washed creosote. I could be folding laundry, but the computer grabbed my attention and asked me to write for a little while.

The rain is coming at a most welcome time for us, though our friends on the East Coast are floating away in their extra measure right now. We have been very dry. I planted some fall and winter vegetables anyway, on faith, and have been watering with the garden hose to keep them going. The purple green beans continue to provide a meal's worth, at least three times a week. Chili de arbol have produced non-stop. Last night I made a chicken recipe I read about in the NY Times online cooking column a few weeks ago. Three Cup Chicken. With a few modifications. I had no scallions, but plenty of young leeks. So I halved them, cut them in one inch lengths, cut up the shriveled remains of ginger root, peeled twelve cloves of farmer's market garlic, and put them in the hot wok, with several tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and 6 or 8 of the red, super hot chilies. As they cooked over the high heat, a couple of the chilies popped right out of the pan! Isn't cooking an adventure? When the leek was tender, I tossed in three chicken breasts, cut up into chunks. When they were beginning to brown, I added a couple of tablespoons of sucanat, then half a cup of white wine, 1/4 c of soy sauce and a glug of rice vinegar. Then put a lid over the wok, sauteed our purple green beans with one of our home grown red onions, more garlic, and then 1/4 c of sesame seeds. By the time the rice was done, the green beans tender, I opened up the lid on the wok and stirred in two cups of our fresh basil. The smell was absolutely divine! And it tasted pretty good too. Spending time cooking a nice meal, taking a few extra steps, feels like a luxury to me. The Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong station on Pandora, a glass of wine, and quiet solitude in the kitchen feels like a vacation.

Don't be too terribly impressed! We had store bought fried chicken and mashed potatoes that we ate like savages, standing around the table for lunch today. And supper is fend for yourself. I believe I heard Rose make herself some MaltoMeal.

No more coffee for me. But I do look forward to snuggling under an extra blanket, with the cool, damp air coming in the window tonight. With a book in hand, just in case that earlier caffeine keeps me up.