Finding Love in the City
We went into the mountains, walking through forest, across alpine meadows, and up onto the high heather. On the knob of Yellow Aster Butte I turned and turned: Baker and Shuksan were hazy to the south, the teeth of the Skagit Range to the east, and just across the valley America Border Peak rose sharp and rust stained from Tomyhoi Lake. Below the butte we followed crisscrossing desire lines to the deepest of the alpine lakes and dove into the clear, cold water. Afterward, we lay quiet on the rocks like sunning snakes.
I came down from the mountains brighter, my mind clear as the lake water. I was made of muscle and bone and wonder. Love for the land, for my Northwestern home, expanded in my chest, squeezing worry and self-doubt and the anxiety of Sisyphusian to-do lists down to their small and proper size.
After the mountains, the city felt flat and slightly unreal. Inside the boxes of buildings there was no sky, no wind, no rain squalls, no air. Outside the walls, asphalt and turf grass hid the earth. The visceral wonder that had filled me softened and settled into memory. Worries and doubts grew back into the spaces it left behind. Under the bright, fluorescent lights of the kitchen I felt my mountain brightness dimming.
At the end of a long day of baking, hungry for the sky, I took my dinner out back behind the house and sat on top of the picnic table facing the garden. The garden is fenced with fishing nets we salvaged from a net dumpster at the marina and hung like a shower curtain on wire stapled between scrap wood posts. The first fence we built was eight feet at the corners, sagging to six at the nadir of the wire’s parabola. All last summer and fall we found hoof prints postholing through newly planted beds. One morning I walked out to find the bean vines stripped naked, all the leaves bitten away. This spring we rehung the net ten feet high at the corners. The beans are lush with leaves and red flowers.
I admired the riot of flowers as the light faded: the scarlet runner beans, the banks of volunteer borage and calendula, the cascading nasturtiums, and the sturdy sunflowers standing sentry over the beds. When I heard her steps in the dry grass I stilled, waiting. She passed ten feet in front of me. Every few steps she turned dark eyes and those big, expressive ears towards me, wary but unafraid. I didn't move. At the fence she stopped, nose to the net, gazing for long minutes into the feast of irrigated green. Mule deer are nearly as common as grey squirrels here at the edge of the city. She was unremarkable and very beautiful. The wonder swelled inside me.
See you soon.
Owner | Baker
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