Saturday, July 12, 2014

Time Travel

     Sometimes people say to me, "You can do anything you want to do; go wherever you want to go; go back to school; travel the world. What do you want to do?" Yes, well, it is never as easy as that is it? All of our lives are far more complicated than would ever allow us to simply 'do as we please'. "No man is an island, and all that. That being said, the bigger, deeper issue is not whether or not I can do what  I would please but, knowing what in the world I would do.
    I want to do many things, at the same time. I want to live closer to my kids and grandkids, which I could do. But I also want my grandkids to know this space because it is their heritage. This is their land and I want them to grow up with it and come to know it as part of themselves.  I also desperately want them to have some wild nature available to them in which to explore and imagine.  Nature is full to brimming over with lessons for us and I want my grandkids to have access to that deep wisdom.
    Yes, there are places in the world I would like to see, or see again.  I hope that will happen but I would be fine if it didn't.  Most of the time I feel like someone who is trying to walk through a strange house, in the dark, bumping into things and wishing someone would turn on the lights.  I live a day…well, really more like a week…at a time.  I trying to spend some time in silence every day, being open to the whisperings of the cosmos, trying to discern….something.  Most of the time I end up swatting mosquitoes more than anything. Not always.
       Today was not like that. Today I stepped back in time and lived in a past light, walking around in the rough, sandy brush that grows along the sides of the Cimarron River.  The plants there are desert plants, spiky and tough with lots of sand in between.  I spent the morning picking Sand Plums, reaching tentatively in for the reddest fruit, feeling the thorns lightly pricking my arms and legs. Reaching just that little bit farther for the ripest of the bunch, only to have it drop from the twig and fall into the sand below.  The sun beat down on my neck and plums dropped into my sack with a sweet, light patter.
      This is something I have done all my life.  The sounds and scents of a Sand Plum patch are etched deeply into my memory.  I don't remember ever picking plums alone though, it is usually something we do as a group or at least with two of us.  I know the smell of ripe plums and sand plants and the sound of skittering creatures slipping away, out of sight. I know the sight of hawks circling overhead while I  push cautiously through the stickery arms of the bushes.  About the third time I am completely blinded by sweat pouring in to my eyes, I know it is time to head for the house. There will be other days for picking plums and it doesn't take many to make a lot of jelly.
       I always do my preserving work at my dad's house now.  Today we decided to toss the plums into the freezer, unwashed, and let my sister help with the canning when she comes down for a visit later. We had bigger fish to fry today, namely sweet corn. I had brought a huge sack of Ringwood sweet corn with me from Enid and Dad and I prepared it for the freezer.  Some of it we blanched and cut off the cob and some of it we trimmed up and froze in the husk.  We will pull it out the day before the upcoming wedding, when the family is here to join in the celebration. A couple of years my brother, Scott, helped with the corn freezing dance. Sadly, he wasn't here today…just Dad and I.

            I spend a lot of my time sitting in my car, driving here and there, in the cool of the air conditioner these days.  It's fine. I have a nice car and it runs well and gets good milage. It was so nice today though, to step out of the car onto the sandy road and walk up and down, listening to the hot  sizzle of an Oklahoma summer afternoon.  All the sensations took me back to when I was a child and played outside in the heat all the time, watching ants, climbing trees, throwing rocks, riding bikes and generally being in the natural world.  
     I don't seem to handle the heat as well now but I enjoy it for a little while, remembering.  I soak it up and save it for the winter months, just like the corn and the sand plums.  They all carry the sunshine within themselves and when I spread Sand Plum jelly on my bagel in January I will remember the burn of that July sun and the feel of sand beneath my shoes.

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