The sun rose over the Coast Range and brought forth steam from the pastures. An overnight rain had soaked the ground. Evaporation, part of the oldest religion in the world, the water cycle, was underway.
I was hungry. I was quasi fasting to induce a state of mind that might provide clarity. Whole cultures used to follow the visions of a shaman after a fast. American did it with Lincoln. Jesus fasted for 40 days and met the devil, who brought Burger King (wearing a crown of thorns) and a smart phone. Then: Jesus ate. Jesus texted. Jesus wept.
It was all downhill after that.
Bonnie and Clyde gallivanted through the pasture. Can two senior dogs and a middle aged man gallivant? Yes. Watch us.
I talked to the crew aloud about the coming winter. I promised them I’d never the let rain repel my visits.
We made our way to the river. The evaporation was happening all around us. I fed the crew treats and they drank water from the grass.
I threw rocks at the big leaning alder across the river, checking to see if I still had decent aim. I didn’t.
We stayed for 15 minutes and then headed back.
A few feet into the pasture and something struck me: I didn’t want to go home: I much preferred hanging out with Bonnie and Clyde than doing anything or nothing at home.
I pivoted and detoured us to explore new territory of the pasture. They were game, as they always are in life.
We approached the boundary of the pasture and it was bordered by a willow grove of incredible height and depth. I had never seen a willow grove like this on the Oregon Coast and I had trekked through many of them. We moved closer and came to the edge of the grove.
It was out of a fantasy novel in a world where the wild of nature reigns supreme and imparts all wisdom and unscripted scripture: rivulets, drips, rocks, flowers, lily pads, tall grass, mud, moss, steam, thick willows with branches growing parallel to the ground, ferns everywhere, ferns growing out of thick willow branches, willow portals, willow benches, willow forts. It couldn’t possibly exist on this old abandoned dairy farm because dairy farmers hated willows in their wetlands and pulled them up in the mistaken belief they impeded drainage.
Willows love water. I love willows. I love the word willow. Here in front of me stood an ancient and sacred grove and I simply had to investigates its trails and tunnels, mysteries and metaphysics. I had to climb and climb. I might even swing. Only a fool doesn’t swing when you can swing.
Without my prompting, Bonnie entered first. I knew she would lead the way. I’ve seen more than enough evidence she communes with fairies on a regular basis.
Seconds later, she disappeared into the misty green and black. Clyde resisted, but then I enticed him with a treat and we followed the mystical scout dog.
There was a muted sound in the grove, as if sound could barely float. We wandered and wandered around.
I did pull ups. I swung. I carved our initials into the trunk of a willow double the size of my body.
One day, a decade or two from now, I would return to this giant willow, read my carvings, and see where these two great dogs had conveyed me in the most challenging time in my life.
I no longer recall how long we remained in the grove. At some point, Bonnie led us out into the pasture. There was light all around us. Clyde didn’t even want a treat.
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