It’s been over two weeks since I wrote my last travel blog from the road in Arizona. We are back in Idaho feeling the chill of shin-battering wind and the threat of hard ice on the back patio. The snow piles we fled have been sucked into the throat of cold rain and a northwester Chinook. The soaked birch and aspen leaves of October are stuck to pavement, concrete and remnants of front yard grass. I wonder if the skiffs of ice in the cold spots have invaded my hands. When I try to compose this blog, the words are like thick molasses stuck to the ends of my fingertips. The syllables ooze just behind my eyeballs, gumming up the pathways of my brain.
Most of our trip we ran point for heavy weather that battered the west. In Utah the skies clouded but fortunately the snow pulled into a climatic rest stop and let us visit the stark, flat sadness of Topaz and shoot pictures of the Vermillion Cliffs where the fractured skin of the earth seems a simile for our species’ millennial bleeding. When we arrived in southern Arizona the temperatures hovered in the eighties with T-shirt mornings and red skies at dusk.
We finally encountered rain in Oakland as one of the big blusters blew in and slapped against our windshield. On 12/18/2010 we attended a remembrance for our deceased Sonoma County friend, Trisha Pedroia. The weather spit rain and sulled-up with black clouds all day long and added gloom to an already gloomy moment. Tree frogs croaked in the garden that already misses her tending.
On the trip we spent time with our kids and their kids in Arizona (the first quality time in years), made and ate awesome tamales. We spent time with our kids in San Francisco (but not enough) and with Betty’s family in Placerville. Along the way we met and broke tortillas, biscuits, cookies and Portuguese sweet bread with friends when we could and as I stand here at our kitchen counter and compose this blog, I remember all the laughs, jokes, giggles, hugs, meals and tears we shared with family and other loved ones. It is interesting to me how after all the journeys Betty and I have embarked upon (both real and metaphorically), and all the places we have domiciled, the people who know us still like us . . . they still love us (almost in spite of us, or at least me, anyway). And it makes one feel the effort spent in trying to keep in touch . . . hell, even if only sporadically . . . means something.
And now, here in Boise, the forecast is for bitter weather, five degrees or colder, and I need to polish my boots, and I need to work on the movie we are making. But pondering those things, my mind refuses to budge from thoughts of Trisha Pedroia, how she could have lost control of the tractor (was it too muddy, did she focus her attention on a bobcat, a coyote as she went down the road towards the riding arena, did she hear the cry of a spotted towhee, or the scree of a red tail hawk and look up and run off the track?) What happened?
I recall the last night we spent with her, at her house in the midst of the syrah and pinot grapes at Cherry Camp. The fog came in and hugged the house. Outside after dark, great horned owls sat in the boughs of redwood trees and hooted back and forth. Just before our retiring for the night, a pack of coyotes showed up outside, just below our bedroom window, and began to yammer to each other as if they were calling our names, “Hey Trisha, hey Betty, hey Rodgers,” to come outside and play. We laughed and Trisha wore a look of amazement in her smiling eyes. And then we left the next morning and now she’s gone, too, but not to Boise.
And some day we will all be gone and that’s the way the world operates and nothing we can do will alter that. So on to polishing my boots and staying in touch with the living. It starts here with a belated Merry Christmas (or Chanukah or Solstice or Kwanza) and a wish for an ebullient New Year.