I eat my Jumbo Jack cheeseburger in the driver’s seat of my mother’s red Kia. I am in the Descanso Gardens parking lot in the shade of a small big-leafead tree. I have no real illusions about going for a walk (much less a hike), but later I will be very glad I chose to park here. There are three glossy ravens poking around. I wonder if they are hoping for leftovers. I toss french fries out the open window. They surprise me—timid, wary. As I watch a braver gray squirrel shows them up, makes off with the first few fries, her warm brown eyes on me the whole time. When I finish eating, I read the latest book by my favorite author, All the Seas of the World. My exhaustion settles on me like a blanket, but there is ease in being used up, too, a kind of quiet by default inside me. The ravens grow a little bolder, make away with the rest of the french fries, one of them taking five of them at once in sharp, dramatic thrusts of his strong, curved beak. (I think greed in the moment, but later I wonder if it was really a desperate hunger.) I toss more fries, look up from my book now and then to watch them, see the squirrel bury hers a time or two (off in the distance). I do this for hours. There is a peace in me now I have been missing (desperate, too?). My book transports and feeds me, lulls me. There is a deep comfort in my connection to these wild creatures. And there is a deep sweetness in me and a surprising sorrow when I have to drive away and leave them behind.
I sit down on the Adirondack chair, on the little raised deck like a dais, my bottom sliding over the wood, surprising and smooth as if it had been polished. (Now I want a chair like this.) I am on a ridge at Descanso Gardens, looking north over La Cañada and the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. I breathe, sigh, stretch my neck and shoulders, so tight these days. I try not to feel uncomfortable as people come into view and spot me sitting there. (I am so close to the intersecting paths.) I am glad when they all disappear again, and I remain. I rub my hands across the arms of the chair, soft against my palms. In the stillness of this almost-wilderness, I am the grateful, quiet queen of my domain.