I fear I’ve fallen dreadfully behind with my online life because I’ve been busy living my real life over here — isn’t it funny how they are not one and the same, though they are? The living is so deliciously summery right now. These are the hot August nights, the roasted looking green-fade that the trees and gardens suffer with the press of daily sunshine and wind: sunburnt basil, bolting lettuce. The air here feels a bit parched. I was walking through a ponderosa pine forest this morning and it smelled so hot and spicy and I thought I could almost see the scent rising up in crackling swirls from the needle carpeted floor. Two days ago, while I was down at the lake swimming, a horsefly bit me twice on the sole of my foot. It was terribly itchy. August always seems itchy to me. Itchy and fat. Itchy, fat and perhaps a bit stalled. Like the heat is too thick to really move through at a normal pace. August is like a black cow in a treeless pasture. Yup. It’s just like that.
Tater Tot ran right over a sandpiper chick while I was wading and fishing the Chewuch River with Rob this morning. That baby bird was a bit stunned and fell into the river (they can sort of swim, you know?). It was in the current diving around and drifting on the surface, trying to get back to shore. The water was fast and I worried for it so I went after it, stepped on a swimming garter snake, screamed, and eventually fished the sandpiper out of the swirl it was in and held it in my hands for a little while before popping it into some tall grass to wait for its mother to come back for it. It had such a clever looking little face. Sometimes it can be difficult to set things free again, once I have them in my hands.
Last night, we biked to dinner in Twisp with the bunkhouse boys. I love being with Robert with those men. They are his rookie brothers, that is is to say they were in the same smokejumper rookie class as him at the North Cascades Base. Smokejumpers call each other bros and form a tiny and elite community here in the interior West — it’s quite the thing to witness. But Robbie and his rookie bros seem to have friendships and bonds that go deeper than usual. They’re such fine men. They’re so uncomplicated, good natured, helpful and considerate in all they do. I love it when they get to talking and laughing together. Actually, I love it when they’re all in the same room together! It’s as though I get a secret glimpse into a club I’m not a member of — the club of good men. I love good men. I truly do. I love how practical they are, how uncomplicated their relationships are and how they care for their friendships so loosely and easily. They’re so wonderfully different from women, in a way that is sometimes enviable, I confess.
When we reached town, we ate Thai food together. It was delicious.
On the bike ride home, the moon was almost full and it rose steadily above us as we glided around the highway curves back to the base. The air was warm, our bikes had wings, we were soaring on zephyrs. On the downhill sections, when I was able to coast through the night like a night-thing, and deer were scampering up out of the ditches onto the hillsides, I thought I felt my joy flapping like a cape behind me, tethered tightly with silken strands to the very soul and spirit of me, and I felt tangled with the beauty and mystery of the night. I exclaimed over and over again, ”Look boys! It’s summer! Doesn’t it feel so free, like summer used to feel?” And they were all so kind to continuously agree with me, and pleasantly laugh at my exclamations. And Robert, my favorite of them all, was so tender and lovely to me, as he always is, and we rode side by side and when I reached out my left hand to him, he touched it with his right.
It’s summer and everything is just so summery good.