How the mix of shredding cotton ball cirrus clouds fell in to absorb a long gone jet’s lingering chemtrail mixed with wildfire smoke puffing out of a nearby mountain shaped like an old man’s pipe. How the trees were godly giants, to be revered by their ancient names and at the same time as friendly and giving as old friends, asking me of my travels and offering a swing or a mossy patch of relief from the hot days.
How the campgrounds would empty and the river would be the only sound left. Night taking its late-summer time, soft pinks and purples, a half moon above it all, growing fatter as the days lingered on and into a forever end of summer. How a grand old eagle, unidentifiable but barely wavering, never flapping, soared across it all black on blue, over the trees I’d come to call friends.
Like Red, always playing second fiddle, his stringy bark a teenagers unkempt clothing, long shaggy limbs falling from his top and moss strewn lower appendages blotting out the daylight. His knees reaching out and as smooth as any rocking chair.
Or Doug, the top gun, master of his northwestern domain and once the world. He stands, silver-backed with lichen, sheathed from root to canopy with some half a dozen or so decades of life behind him.
Hemmie, always sneaking in between them, whipping around his tossle cap like a fabio, desperate to catch a few rays. Bigleaf and his little sister Vine hung around, their palms wide open and helicoptering down their keys every few minutes to hit the ground with an inaudible thud. Maybe some lucky kid will find them and know how to use them. I know mine will if yours don’t first.
We rode bikes down railroad ties and tied ropes around things that didn’t need roping, learning knots but never quite how to put a rope away again. Now and then a hammock would show up, dangling between two yews and begging to be useful. The kids would argue. Or occasionally, one of the adults would get a nice, quiet nap.
I knew that life was changing. I wasn’t afraid of any of it. Of less money. Or more babies. There was talk of stopping but still going. And nowhere to stop and no money to stop with it seemed either.
So it was how the forest made it all so crystal balmy blue that I most fell in love with her. How she’d quiet the world, purple the evening sky and whisper windy or wet that this was home, whether that was in an aluminum travel trailer or some cabin, whether it was two or twenty of us, this was all we needed to be happy.
And so we were.