So for three days now I’ve been rewriting the introduction and it is not going well. I have written I think one paragraph that I like. And I honestly do not know what else should go into it. Enough introduction. I am so heartily sick of writing the introduction.
The sun starts to hit the table where I work, in my brother’s kitchen, at about 3 pm, glaring off the screen and making it pretty uncomfortable to work. I took a long break and drove up into the Grand Mesa National Forest, which you can only access by miles of dirt road. Pretty awesome. The road starts out through a valley bordered by a rim of rock that runs along the hills, winding through ranches with airplane-sized watering tractors, and long bunches of cedar and scrubby brush, and then heads upward so steeply that even my brother’s enormous truck slipped on the gravel at times. I hadn’t put it into 4-wheel drive yet, trying to save gas. After about 10 miles the ranches dropped out and there was just open sagebrush sea and scrub, up ahead in the far hills a forest of gold. And then I was in the aspen, all apricot shimmer and white trunks, and nearly hit a very black cow and its calf. On I drove over a road that got markedly worse, so bad that I had to slow down and roll over the rocks and valleys. I reached Bailey’s Reservoir at about 4. It is really just a lake nestled into the skirt of a small and barren valley. Beautiful, but dark. The sky was overcast, threatening to rain. There was one bright yellow aspen against the black-green firs. The ground was rust brown, mottled with cow-pies. Little breeze. I was away from the road, away from the truck, and tucked back into the woods, just the way I like to be. Not a sound except for one weird cry that could have been a coyote or a crazy human. I guess it spooked me, because I didn’t want to stay there. Maybe it was too quiet, deafeningly silent, after that. There was no breeze, and I was too far away from the cows to hear them. I regretted I had not brought the dogs. It was so quiet that my brain started to make up sounds–to hear the buzz of the highway, or cars, or other kinds of urban noise. These fantoms passed away. An airplane thundered pass and it took a long time for the sound to fade. But then it did, and all was silent again
I drove further down into the valley, had a smoke, and headed back home. Then I began to feel irritated with my cowardice, turned around, and headed back up to the lake. But I couldn’t stay there.
I turned around again and drove downhill about a mile, across a rugged washboard road, got out, propped an easel against a rock, sat, smoked, and looked. I could see way down across the Grand Mesa and out towards the West Elk Mountains and the flatland where Highway 92 runs from Hotchkiss to Delta. I was way up on 3100 Road.
Even though I enjoyed the softness of the aspen trees that had already shed their leaves feathering up against the evergreens and the broad swathes of gold behind them, and the valley spilling out below me; even though I was happily straddling a granite boulder like a horse, I couldn’t simply sit and be. Too edgy. Needed to move, get back, reach home before dark, before the rain. Plus in this spot I could hear the cattle lowing, and they annoyed me.
They annoyed me more on the way back down, because they all seemed to have decided to go somewhere on the road at the same time. Dinner? There must have been thirty or forty of them, all told, on the way back. All different colors, browns and tans, creams, and russets and blacks, bulls and cows and calves. They frequently stopped right in the middle of the road, turned their enormous bodies sideways and stared at the headlights. When I finally got through them all, and drove a little further down the mountain, I saw one pure white young cow grazing among the aspen.
I also saw hawks, and chipmunks, and deer. I think they were deer. Could have been elk. One froze by the roadside, so I stopped and looked into her eyes until she decided I was no threat and moved on. She had enormous ears.
Once I had a dream that three animals came to me, and when I awakened I fancied that they were my spirit animals, or totems. They were an owl, a jackal, and a doe. I saw the face of the doe this afternoon.
I’m making soup with last night’s creamed corn (I made it from fresh cobs), tomatoes that come from my garden here, caramelized onions and carrots, and sweet potato. The broth is water-based. Since I’ve sworn off all processed foods I couldn’t use a cube, so I took a chicken breast out of the freezer and popped it in. I made this before I left for my drive. When I got back the chicken was tender enough and cool enough to shred with my fingers. I poured another cup or so of water and about half a cup of wine into the broth, and it has been simmering for the past 40 minutes or so. I will have to let you know how it turned out.