I take the peeled red onion in its glass bowl out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature, the cucumber, my favorite rye Manna bread, the vegan butter. I remind myself I’m thinking of not defrosting the last loaf of the bread in the freezer, just doing without it for the next few days before I leave for L.A., but almost before I’m done forming the thought it makes me cry. I don’t berate myself for crying. I just take the last loaf of bread and the last pound of vegan butter from the freezer. (No argument with myself at all, only this instinctive response, this immediate decision to not deny myself this treat right now if it’s making me cry.) It’s disturbing that such a funny little thing is eliciting tears. But I don’t try to unravel it, just sit on the bed with my hand on my heart and let myself cry. In between I remind myself it’s okay. I get to keep eating the bread and butter. “You can always just get more exercise,” I say. And then I laugh, tears still wet on my cheeks. I’m glad I didn’t chastise myself for crying over this small looming deprivation. I decide that regardless of what worrisome state or precarious balance the crying might speak to, I feel good and sure and right about my response. I feel lighter for the release of tears, comforted by my kindness to myself. “Bread and butter,” I whisper, “for as long as you need it.” I’m grinning now.
I put my big weird orange tube scarf over my head and fluff it up around my neck, tie Joe’s old sweater around my waist. It is not yet dusk when I walk out my wooden gate, the big clouds in the sky lit up by the last of the setting sun that went behind our mountains almost two hours ago. It’s my first walk for sheer pleasure in a long time. I go along the golf course path. I watch a hawk glide-land in the dead branches of the tree beside the tennis courts. When I reach the tree I stop to talk to him. “Are you a Cooper’s hawk?” I ask. And then, “Are you my Cooper’s hawk?” He doesn’t answer in a way I know how to recognize, but he doesn’t leave, either. Beyond the tree I see bunnies nibbling on the grass. It’s dusk now, and I can feel the magic of it descend on us. A Costa’s hummingbird lands three feet away, his violet mantle glistening in the remaining light. The cottontails don’t scatter today when I walk by. I am careful not to stop and not to stare. I grab quick greedy glimpses of them while I walk, drinking in their exquisite furry forms, the depth in their dark eyes, the busy concentration of their chewing. When I walk back again the rabbits are still eating, but the hawk is gone. I scan the golf course for coyotes in the late dusk. I can hear the traffic about a block away, loud on a Friday evening. I think of people going home from work, buying groceries, heading out to dinner. I soak up the respite of this path, this quiet other world settling into night, the presence of the San Jacintos. I remember why I want to return to this–balm for my spirit.
I dream I am in a small covered patio at the back of a house I don’t recognize. There is stuff piled everywhere, stacks of cardboard boxes, a rickety folding table, bicycle parts, old tires. In a small clear space at the edge of the table near a rusted waffle iron and several stacks of old hardcover books a bird is ruffling his feathers. He’s about the size of a phoebe only rounder and fluffier, mostly gray with a pale, pale yellow chest and belly. He’s been traumatized by the presence of a coyote. I treated him in some way (an herbal mist?), and now he is settling again. I stand nearby, watch him as he preens. He seems happy. I feel a kind of quiet awe and deep gratitude knowing I was able to help.
I dream of a man with a huge head. He has dark skin and black hair, maybe Italian or Mexican or even of Middle Eastern heritage. His features seem familiar, but I can’t place them. His mouth is frozen open as though he’s in mid-scream, his eyes wide and crazed. But he is talking, animated, somewhere below his face. It’s as if his animated features are semi-transparent and floating beneath his frozen face, his neck and shoulder and upper chest visible behind them. It takes me a while to understand what is happening. At first I think his head is huge and ugly, but then I grow accustomed to it and begin to see what’s going on. I see him standing beside his wife. He is very tall, and his frozen head no longer seems out of proportion. I have the sense that if he continues with his emotional work he’ll be able to unlock his face. It must have frozen in a moment of terror. But I know he can free it up again by thawing, feeling, releasing. Later, I think about how I have my own terrors frozen inside me, and I feel comforted by my certainty that thawing is possible.
I dream I’ve been working in some capacity with a smaller beast and go looking for the big tiger. I open the door to what looks like a high school gym. The tiger appears through an opening on the left. He walks toward me, his gaze fierce. He growls. I stop walking, slowly turn my back. I stoop over, overwhelmed, I think, or about to faint. When I realize what I’m doing, I remember not to be prey, and I straighten. I walk toward the door, and he does not attack. Outside, there is a dog who knows me at the bottom of the steps. He sees the tiger behind me. “No,” I say. My voice is quiet but vehement. I don’t want him to be killed defending me. He quivers but stays still. The tiger takes my right hand in his mouth. I can feel his teeth press against my skin, but he is gentle. He releases me, and I keep walking. I don’t look back until I’m a short distance away. The dog and the tiger are standing beside each other watching me go.
I dream I am in a small walled patio. Large swaths of sheer fabric in green and black billow from a concrete slab overhang. There’s a young woman in her thirties with me. She has dark hair and lots of bangles on her wrist. I watch as a hummingbird flies to her and cuddles on her shoulder in the crook of her neck. I am in awe. Then another one comes to me and settles in. I hold very still. I can tell the little bird is poking around the way they do, comfortable, preening, setting things to right. After, in the dream, I’m trying to describe it to people, and I keep starting over. As I try to tell the story, I keep rubbing the indentation between my collarbone and shoulder where he nestled. Half awake later, I check in the mirror to see if the indentation is there, but it doesn’t look or feel as large as the hollow in my dream. But, oh! To have a hummingbird nestle in like that. Such sweetness. Standing in front of the mirror, I can still feel his soft weight against my skin.
I dream I’m looking up into a vast and starry sky. It is rich with stars the way you see them in the Eastern Sierra, but many of them are even brighter. There are several shooting stars, and stars that grow brighter and then wink out. There’s a man beside me explaining things in a quiet, steady, kind voice. We are facing south, and I see a colorful figure moving across the sky from east to west. “Oh, look!” I say. “Mary Poppins!” I am excited. I look closer and see it’s an inanimate figure of an adolescent on a bicycle. The man beside me tells me all the details about what’s happening, but I can’t remember them all. I am left with the impression there really is someone on their bicycle setting things up for whatever is about to begin. I have the image of a plain metal bicycle basket on the handlebars. Maybe “they” will show a movie in the sky? I feel pure pleasure and childlike glee. The man explains about the popcorn (!!). I don’t know who he is, but I know I like his voice. I have the sense he’s getting pleasure, too. He’s enjoying my reactions.