The Pit, Part III: SAD

Kids are back in school. The house is quiet.

972137_10151500199949423_1619312883_nOn the surface, summer was what summer should be. There was the Desnuda reunion road trip from San Antonio to Rio Hondo, where I watched dolphins swim through a channel toward Laguna Madre and the Gulf. It was sunrise, and even the mosquitoes held still as, one by one, the creatures surfaced for air and continued their journey to the sea. (Their quiet determination surprised me. I had expected them to travel in groups of three, leaping through the air and giggling at the apex as they do at Sea World. The morning stillness, their breath the only sound, was better.) The arroyo, the desnudas, and the dolphins put me back in touch with my manuscript. I wrote at a kitchen table, on a cushy chair, in Anel’s magic casita in San Antonio.

There was Father’s Day mass at Holy Rosary, the one-day Otero family reunion (and requisite water fight) in Las Cruces, the Rael/Otero Northern New Mexico family vacation. We rode the train from Chama to Antonito, dipping up into Colorado and back to New Mexico through a rock tunnel, over a suspension bridge, and alongside deer and elk, the fires in Jemez and southern Colorado beyond our view, the only hint of destruction as we pulled out of the station, spider web tents hanging from the branches of aspens and pines along the tracks.

382521_10151534847664423_839236494_nI grew corn and tomatoes and planted more of the seed paper on which our wedding guests wrote their good wishes for Henry and me. They bloomed as pink, orange, red, and yellow coat buttons under the office window and outside our dining room. I planted sunflowers that reached up to our bedroom window and greeted us each morning as though they knew nothing of drought.

The four of us camped out in the backyard. Henry and I got prettied up, prepared a portable feast, and experienced (for this is the only word for how one takes in this event) the Santa Fe Opera. After a week of dance camp, K’s love of movement overpowered his shyness, and he walked the dinosaur at the Natural History Museum as part of a Keshet Dance Company flash mob. (He had the best free-style.) P discovered a love of graphic novels. She devours them, reading in the car, the bathroom, at the dinner table. She reads them in lieu of watching Disney channel at Nana’s house.

Photo by Avi Huelskamp

Photo by Avi Huelskamp

There was the Belize women reunion on San Juan Island. We saw a pod of orcas from a rocky perch on the west side of Friday Harbor, visited a lavender farm, looked for heart shaped rocks on a lagoon shore.

And still I am relieved to see sunflowers browned and tilting toward the ground, to smell green chile roasting in the parking lot of Pro’s Ranch Market, to feel a chill against my skin as I leave the house to jog while the kids sleep and Henry lifts weights at home. Summer is ending.

Fall is near.

On the train I imagined how gorgeous the ride must be in early October when the aspens are torches lighting up the mountainside. I looked for the aspens, white trunks, slender and sturdy, knots like dark eyes taking in the forest, heart shaped leaves the green of apples. I love the sound of a breeze through an aspen forest, the quaking of the leaves, as though each tree takes a breath.

The aspens are dying. Swaths of mountain are covered in tree bones, skinny old men eaten by time and disease. Those “spider webs” are silk cocoon sacks, writhing with the larvae of tent making caterpillars that, together with bark beetles, drought, bronze poplar borer larvae, and climate change have led to Sudden Aspen Decline or SAD.

Summer was sunflowers: not having cancer, time with friends, time with family, watching P and K come into their own, Henry. Summer was SAD: fire, the aspens, bringing my unconscious beliefs and ways of being to consciousness and recognizing that they too will die. They have to. Even the sunflower browns and bends toward earth. Fall is near.

Published in: on August 14, 2013 at 7:06 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. once more enjoyed your writing. look forward to the next! Petra Sanchez

    • Sra. Sanchez, you are the number one Vessel fan. La agradezco su apoyo.

  2. Like a haiku…

    • Thank you, Susan. Welcome to Vessel.

  3. Lovely.

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