Tuesday morning I wake up happy again, the first time in weeks. I don’t know why. I am still drinking two strong cups of yerba maté each day, still eating chips and other junky food, still drinking too much kombucha. But my heart lifts over nothing, some secret balance restored, chemistry and spirit righted. Monday was my writing group and sitting group again, so I can point to them, too, but I know it is not that simple. Unexpected joy comes when it will. I am lucky in how often it visits. I stop writing for a moment now, shift in the tall, metal chair, twist my back in an easy stretch, catch the changed light on the cement of the courtyard beside the clay cat. October light. Ordinary miracle. A hummingbird tastes the Mexican petunias four feet from where I sit, purple blossom after purple blossom wiggling on their stems. I can hear my white-crowned sparrows nibbling seeds in the small, square tray feeder tucked beneath the bougainvillea, her own sagging branches, heavy with fuchsia blooms, hiding the birds from me. Yesterday, I heard a verdin peeping outside the open window to the street. I looked up from the computer in time to watch him hop onto a louver, flit to the curtain rod inside, have a look around the living room. I didn’t stop grinning until he’d had his fill and hopped back out again. Today, I am washing dishes when I hear a flurry in the courtyard, a loud thud on the sliding glass door. I turn from the sink in time to see my Cooper’s hawk swoop between the orange umbrellas and follow a dove up over the roof. I’d been dreaming about the winter, about hot springs, about being naked, submerged in the water, cold air against my face, touching my warmed shoulders when I moved. Ordinary magic. Extraordinary gifts.
I am sitting naked in Desert Hot Springs. Not sitting about in the center of town, no—in a small, modest resort with natural mineral springs. The warm wind has been whipping about me for hours, loud in the fan palms beside the pool. A statue of Quan Yin presides poolside. I’m in the shade now. I’ve been reading most of the day. I go into the hot mineral pool until I’m sated. The wind makes me cold when I emerge, and I wrap myself in my sarong until my skin is dry and the warm air heat seeps into me again. This morning I did yoga. I did qi gong in the early afternoon. I faced northeast, a potted bougainvillea beside me, the low slung hill visible over the bamboo fence. It has been one of those days that go on and on, the quiet stretching of time, summer days in childhood. I feel relaxed, lucky. I am grateful I’ve found this place. My eyes feel sore, a lingering fever. This morning before the wind began, there was a cactus wren laughing from one of these palms. There was a loose dog in the street when I walked here from the bus stop. I look forward to the day when coming here will feel familiar, like visiting someone I know well. I close the door behind me when I leave and walk away. I look back and see the waxing moon hanging above the roofline in the late afternoon sky as though it’s guarding the place. The moon follows me all the way home.