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.