This is a writing challenge I have accepted from Kellie Elmore:
You are young, it is springtime, and you find yourself walking down a dirt road, with a cut on your knee…
It was dusty and red, the road to Jack’s pass. The soil took on a scarlet hue with the low riding sun, as if in remembrance for the bloodshed of those first settlers who carved this track through the old growth.
Grandfather’s Beard moss hangs from the jowls of Ponderosa Pines, glittering with the moisture of morning dew still hiding in the folds of shadow. Pink and white columbines jostle with daisys in the sunny patches for the loving attentions of bumble bees.
My tank top is plastered to my back and shoulders with the sweat of the season, and my bare feet kick up dust that dances like fairies in the slanting rays of sunlight. The callouses on my soles do not feel the occasional sharp prick of gravel. They have walked this road many times, and bare the scars to prove their mastery of the stony mountains.
A five mile walk to my favorite granite boulder that sits like a king presiding over the valley, positioned tenuously over an embankment strewn with wild blueberries. It is too early for the sweet fruit to stain my lips, the berries are little green nubs on the branches. When June comes along I will take this walk again, and forage with the black bears for their bounty.
I sit crossed-legged, eyes closed, smelling and listening to the air that rises up from the river valley below. I hear the breeze tickling the hemlocks and alder in the low hills before rising up to tangle in my hair. I hear the call of an eagle sailing on the thermals, but I do not open my eyes to glimps his passage. I just smile at the red world behind my eyelids where I imagine him to be.
I spend 30 minutes in silence before being interrupted by the alarm on my watch. It informed me that I had one hour to make it 5 miles back down the road where a friend will drive me the additional 16 miles into town. An hour is plenty of time, especially when one is walking down hill, so I decide to stop and visit with a second growth red cedar tree that leaned out over the drop. I climbed into her branches and smelled the aromas of her boughs mixing with the sweat of my under arms, and it was a very good smell to me. It was primal and simple, made me feel like I belonged there, as my genetics remembered the forest. I embraced the cool, mossy body of her trunk before I left to thank her for allowing my passage, and for sharing her silence with me. A blackberry bramble was not so accommodating however, and wrapped itself around my bare thigh as I waded toward the road. With the grasping, jealous fingers of one who never gets a hug from passing hikers, it left it’s mark on my tender skin. I sucked a breath in through my teeth and slowly extricated myself from his painful embrace, telling him ‘shame on you’ for his naughty behavior. It seemed to me that he looked smug as I travelled onward.
Around the last downward curve I see a green Subaru already waiting. Jogging the last stretch, I slide into the hot sticky vinyl of the passenger seat with an apology. ‘Sorry I’m late.’
Jen looks at me over the top of her smouldering cigarette. ‘Now you really do look like Wild Woman.’ she says, with the camel smoke bobbing on her lips. She reaches over with a grin and pulls and impressively large piece of forest from the tangle of snarls and tree sap in my hair. ‘Planning on taking the trees home with you?’ She asks. ‘I would if I could.’ I told her. ‘Accept that nasty little blackberry bush, he can stay up on the mountain.’ ‘You are an odd duck Kelley Rose.’ She says to me, ‘The only 15 year old girl I know who gets people to drop her off in the middle of nowhere WITHOUT a boy.’
We laugh together, and I convince her to let me drive. I had the parking break on for about three miles, and we laughed about that too.