Tuesday, July 28, 2009
On July 19, my sister and her husband, precious niece and nephew and their accompanying friends flew in fresh from Newport Beach, rushing in with the force of sleeper waves. How strong they all are still and all the world spread out before them for their enjoyment. My sister, her children protected in ways my siblings and I were not by her money, habors a fear that something dreadful will happen to her children; she is fragile in that way, as all mother's are, so what ensued was difficult.
It was my son Bryon's body that caused her grief and probably reminded her of our schizophrenic brother. It was the very night he had come to have dinner with them. In one distilled and awful moment he was on the floor having a grand mal seizure. My sister had never seen him do this. Nor had any of her family. It was Bryon's fourth seizure in two years. Of course the seizure was due to the fact that he has been (like many 20-something young men who have a weak spot I was told by the neurologist): faking infallibility and eschewing his dilantin. His neurologist was practically yawning when I described the episode to her. But of course she's going to rip him a new one when she sees him this week. My sister was yelling for an ambulance and of course we were not going to do that. What the hell can they do? We called on a neighbor EMT who came to check Bryon once he was no longer blue (a very unsettling color that I had to learn to love again and will speak to later), after my husband and I had turned him on his side and stomach, pounded his back, applied a cool cloth to his frothing mouth and sweating forehead, and called back his soul from wherever it goes during a seizure. All ended well. We had dinner with Bryon the last night they were here and he showed us (quite proudly) his new home in Fort Collins, introduced his friends to his extended family (his friends know what to do in case of seizure), and played his guitar.
Which brings me to Black Lake. It was my panacea. These hikes always are. I went with Scott on Sunday who wandered away to photograph and left me to hike the trail all the way to Black Lake without encountering another soul. Of course, this was at 5:00 a.m. and we did watch the sun rise together. So I was left to think of all that had transpired and all the drama that family visits entail. The only thing left for one to do with all of this is to write poetry. At least, that is what I do. Luckily, I had just started an online class with the California-based poet, Molly Fisk. The hike up to Black Lake pumped my head full of metaphor and words and ghost-like voices that were caught and released into the cold morning air. This brings me to the color blue. I have always liked it. It is a tranquil friend. But when my son turned completely blue for about two minutes during that last seizure, I decided, or something in me decided, to never give it notice again. But that is silly and I am a pushover anyway. Long past Mill and Jewel Lake when the ecosystems change from montane to marsh to subalpine, I began to lean down and touch the wild blue iris, the blue flax, and the chiming bells. I held this color in my hands. As I crossed a field of marsh grasses, I deliberately changed the overwhelming abundance of elephant head blossoms which are most certainly purple to a sort of lost shade of blue that only I could see. It is easily rationalized. Since purple is half blue anyway, who is to say that blue should not take precedence over any color? As long as it manifests in these other forms and I need not think of it as the only color of birth and death, I will allow it to break my heart and I will hold nothing against it.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
When the Mormon family moved down to Lyons in May, they left their free-standing porch swing. It sits on a hill overlooking the valley below us and just the top of our red-tiled roof. It sits in rough-hewn tranquility amidst blue-eyed grass and an assortment of wildflowers that change almost as quickly as you can breathe.
They had raised the square, small, wooden house like the Amish; a group of them appeared one day and sang and hammered for about three days and suddenly there it was. Inside it is unfinished; there is no molding where wall meets floor so the carpet in one room and the parquet flooring in the other room stop abruptly and you find your eyes wandering up the hastily painted white walls. There is an octagon-shaped window in one room that is not properly framed. They have a dry well which they had no money to fracture so the husband hauled water up in a tank perched in the back of a clanking, red Toyota pickup you could hear coming up the road every other day. They had had three children in the nearly seven years they lived here; they came with one boy and within three years they had added three more: two boys and a girl. The woman never spoke to me; she was mostly busy being pregnant. But I pressed my face to my bedroom screen on summer nights just to hear the sound of the children's voices as they clamored around the boulders that my own boys had climbed years & years ago. And I watched, fascinated, as the tiny girl walked with barefeet, delicately avoiding yucca, prickly pear & barrel cacti.
What audacity, I thought, to move in May before the wild roses, white violets, phlox and desert lilies could bid them adieu. The woman had planted yellow and purple iris and bright, orange poppies but they shriveled quickly under the foothill sun. I walked through their messy yard gathering up broken, plastic toys, stacking everything neatly beneath the unfinished back deck. And I sat on the swing and wanted to drag it down to my yard but the real estate agent said it added ambience to the house and was necessary for the sale.
So almost every evening I walk up to their yard and sit in that swing and write, or daydream, perhaps like she did, wanting that swing for my own and wishing the house to burn down and in its place watch the grasses take over like they once did, the only sign of life to be the deer that burrow beneath the eternal giant juniper tree.
Before the onslaught of tourists who come up to Estes Park to see the fireworks and nothing more, Mary Jean, Scott and I, were able to squeeze in an evening hike up in Rocky Mountain National Park. The area that we were in, Beaver Meadows, is still considered a montane region of the park. At the beginning of July, these meadows are still full of wildflowers that we see here in Pinewood Springs only in June. There are shooting star flowers everywhere and of course penstemon and red Indian Paintbrush. We were also pleasantly surprised to see a baby grouse making its way tentatively across our path to join its mother who suddenly popped up from under the long, wet grasses. She puffed and clucked at us until we passed. Around us were the groves of strange bent huge-trunked aspen sometimes mistaken for another type of tree. The trunks are so blackened by the continual barrage of elk, there is not a single swath of white left and the leaves are a dark dark green. By the end of the hike my boots were soaking wet and all the way down the canyon I drove through eerie low stratus clouds more like ghosts, wisps of some phenomena I see only in dreams.