This morning is bright and breezy. The shades slap in against the screens. It’s cold, 30 degrees below the forecast high. It’s summer. Fire season. Dry and windy.
Yesterday I picked and froze another few gallons of raspberries. There should be a word for them this time of year like pride of lions, or murder of crows. They are an army of jewels, gumdrop sized, purple shading to red, fragrant and sweet, and hot with juice. They are a monstrosity of joy. Relentlessly ripening.
In the afternoon I worked on continuing to fire-proof our yard, cutting the dead and dying grasses, raking pine needles and cones, instant tinder, and hauling it by handcart halfway down our driveway far enough away from the house to be less of a hazard. It was hot and dry and dusty. But the yard is an oasis of green: grass, garden, aspen trees, tall stately pines, all ringed by golden grass hills.
That’s where the fire was three years ago. It swept across the hills behind our house and ran downhill to a few feet from our garden, stopped by a trench hand dug by firefighters. It melted the irrigation hoses into black, geometric tattoos. We spent a day dousing brush fires around the yard, watching the groves of aspen and cottonwood along the irrigation line burn and smolder. It was heartbreaking.
But. We were spared the great loss of home. And now we tend it like our bodies. Like our selves. How can I explain how dear this is? The privilege to live here in this precious nook above the Valley floor. To hear by seasons the river, the aspen leaves’ inimitable breath, the birdsong of early morning and in winter a silence so brilliant it sings.
It is perhaps a cliche to say “chop wood and carry water,” but if it is a cliche, it is also true. We live on, in, and through this landscape. We feed it, and it feeds us. There is always work to do, the work of living so close to nature. Our best efforts are fragile and flimsy and need constant attention. We are here but a short while and by the grace of God. So another day begins.