Nightfall

Ten o’clock. Cool air spills down out of the sky like silk. Like it’s falling from the dark side of the half moon. Deep blue silk spangled with light, twinkling white, pink, red, green. Gemstones.

We’re having a hot spell, a little early for summer. Up into the 90’s today and to 100 on Saturday with little variation between now and then. It’s fire season. Twenty per cent humidity and hot. Fire weather.

It feels so good, this night-cool-fall. Down the hill the river still purls and ululates, showering its white noise up into the trees that thrive on its banks. Wearing down the rocks that create this sound. Paralleling the river, a ditch runs down from someplace high above carrying the irrigation water that makes this valley so rich with crops: wheat, fruit, vegetables. It’s a small diversion of the river’s icy fill, and we walk down there in the heat of the day, through the tall high scratchy grass, and sage, past the Service Berries into the cottonwoods to strip off our clothes and step into that fiery cold. It’s truly breathtaking. And to lie down in that flow that is just barely deep enough to cover us, deep enough for us to lengthen and float, if we’re not careful, out to where the ditch runs along the road, is almost enough to stop your heart. It’s a paradox. Through this high desert, icy water flows. After the searing heat of the day, cool night.

I’m resting in this. The way things contain each other. I’ve had the feeling recently that everything I encounter becomes digested just like food. It enters me with its particular feeling, sensation, flavor, and lingers until it’s absorbed and becomes part of me. Some of it falls away, and some of it nourishes what I am. I’m becoming all of it. There’s nothing that is not a part of me. Or of you. This can be a delicious knowing. Savor it.

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Earth and Sky

I wish you could see the sky here this morning. I’ve long since given up trying to capture it in pictures, and words, I’m afraid, are also not up to the task. Turner spent his career trying to get it (and doing a very good job) in oils, but even those majestic paintings smack of artifice.

No. This is sky in its pure form. I once read in Primo Levi about his preference for clouds over blue sky because the clouds gave the sky definition. He would approve of this morning’s offering here at the edge of civilization in Twisp, Washington.

I say it’s the edge of civilization, which is a bit of an overstatement, but we are a little over 5 miles up from town and around 9 miles to the start of the USFS lands of the Okanagon State Park, which sprawls in green blocks across the map of the Methow Valley.

Earth and sky. You can’t have one without the other, not here on Earth proper. How far would you have to go into space for Earth to disappear?

I’m new enough to this place to be ignorant of the names of its parts. There’s a part of my mind that wants to know them–what is the name of the hill I see out my window? And yet there’s a larger part of my mind, the part encompassed by my whole Being that knows that its name is immaterial. It is my hill; the hill; a hill.

It is now on the 5th of July wearing its summer tweed, brassy golds with a few remaining hints of floral yellow on a backdrop of dun. For decoration, it still wears the shiny green leaves of the cottonwood, the Lakota’s tree of life. This particular cottonwood rests at the base of a small gully–small from here– that runs down the west slope to a deeper ravine along which a long line of aspens rise up. The aspens rise up in elegant lines of white trunk with clusters of small leaves at their tops. They are not the same deep, sliver-sheened green of the cottonwood, and they appear more still. their movement is subtle, shimmery compared to the cottonwood’s dense flutter.

But I set out to tell you about the sky. There’s a mottled cloud cover over most of the westernmost corner of my view. It looks like cotton puffs that have been used to blur the lines of a charcoal sketch, or marshmallows that have been lightly singed. It’s got a hot white eye that can not be looked into directly. It’s a bank of white ash on a hot log. It gives way toward the east to a hazy maze of gassy gauze layered in soft folds of varying density. A sheer scrim over a backdrop of deepest blue that resolves into strands of stratus that tip the top of the hill and disappear onto its other side. It’s a testament to this cloudiness that I can have the curtain open as I write, that I can look into it without being instantly blinded.

This is how things are. Everything is relative, relational. We only know this through that. Here through there; dark through light; good through bad. Life is a constant experience of paradox. We can take everything and nothing for granted; they’re the same thing in the end.