May

The winter layers have given over to exposed skin. Running through the desert is my daily meditation and my way of experiencing the changing seasons. Cold weather running keeps the fire stoked, but direct heat on skin fills me with life. Today I am down to shorts, socks, and shoes as the sun rises higher in the sky. The heat lifts me out of my winter cocoon, and I feel like a winged creature floating along the old creamery road carved into the slickrock where I run. I feel lighter, more graceful, more connected to the ground under my feet today. I am dancing with life once again. Change is in the air.

My primitive nature comes out when I run through the desert. The continuously changing terrain requires the attention of a hawk and the grace of a deer whose footsteps I follow across sand dunes and washes. I focus on a running meditation learned years ago: My mind is a circle divided into four pieces. One quarter focuses on the breath, another on the biomechanics, another quarter is dedicated to visual, with the remaining used to watch the entire system and make adjustments. It begins with the breath. Control the breath, control the run. I adjust my pace and react to the terrain in response to my rate of breathing. Once things are in place, the run becomes a dance, and I disappear into the rhythm. Lungs, legs, and eyes direct the music. The need to dance with nature, over slickrock domes, between cactus patches, through sand and heat comes from someplace deep inside. I run to exist.

As a desert dweller, I experience purification by light. I am in my element outside, where there is room to wander and time to wonder in the same motion. With the sun’s return, the hot and dry conditions are ripe for the alchemical process of change. When the outside world opens up, I can breathe again.

I worry about those who spend most of their time indoors. Because I never see my neighbors outside for more time than it takes them to walk from the car to the house—no matter the season—I harbor fantasies that they are evolving into an indoor breed like my cats. Max, our fat cat, spends the winter directly in front of the wood stove where the slate floor pulsates with heat. When spring arrives and we throw open doors and windows, he burrows under the bed covers. Neither Max nor my neighbors can survive outside any longer. The issue of climate change is distant in climate-controlled interiors. The comforts of indoor living are delicious temptations and the appeal understandable, but I fear we are going by way of the dodo.

The irrigation water was let out last week, putting smiles on the faces of ranchers, outfitters, and tourists. The bees are returning for another round of nectar in exchange for sex in my orchard. I pulled out the hoe and rake, took down the hoses, checked the fuel in the mower, and walked the fence line today just to stay out longer. Flowers are in bloom, blossoms are turning trees into lollipops, and the wind takes on a sensuous quality washing over my face like the softly perfumed hand of a lover, waking up my senses.

The fruit trees look to have survived the latest frost. They came out early this year turning every dip in the weather into a life and death moment. The birds never went away during winter, and we didn’t get enough deep freezes to kill off the damn flies. Storms passed us by and a few more businesses shuttered their doors for good. The old people are dying off and nobody is moving in to take their place. Somebody pulled out the native plants along Main Street much to the chagrin of the nature lovers who planted them, and the man who sells me firewood is finally out of jail. Tension fills the air as the town worries over its future while carefree tourists return for the season. Gossip is picking up and dirt is prepared for planting. I’m torn between horticulture and adventure. I think I’ll go for a run.