It was not a long, long time ago, but thinking of that windy day does make me smile. As always, we had one chance to make that weekend count, and we knew if we could do it right we'd end up dancing in the desert, and certainly we'd be happy for a while.
February and its shivers were gone, thank you very much, and any bad news we left behind in the city on the doorstep with the paper. I'm not going to say that anybody cried when we woke up that morning, underneath the cliffs, but something touched us all that day, the day we ran around like rock n' roll in the canyon and we knew- we could feel it - that winter had died for another three seasons.
So bye bye to the tremendous gales of Vantage and our plans of climbing. Trying to evade the hurricane, we drove the Subarus down the highway and through a winding canyon road, but the windstorm followed closely behind. We drank whiskey and coffee and sang: this might be the day that we die, this might actually be the day we all get blown away.
Now, for three hours, we made breakfast. Jesters, all of us, trying to mix bisquick and fry plantains in that weather. And once, while I was looking down, John's coffee was blown all over me. I'm not sure, in retrospect, why we powered through, and why we cooked so many different things. The cereal lept out of the box. The beans flew out of the pan. It was an animated meal for sure. But we pressed on, and ate a four course breakfast, and nobody was singing any blues as we watched winter get blown away.
Did you read the book of love? How about the weather report? Do you have faith in rock and river, can sunshine give your rained-out soul a break? We all kicked off our shoes and John taught us how to walk real slow through the wilderness. We were lonely teenage broncin' bucks, desert sage and not exactly out of luck. And if we'd had a pick up truck, why, we'd have been even better off.
We ran down into the canyon, helter skelter in a spring air, birds flying up around us, eight miles in and running fast. We played tracking games and learned to hunt one another through the silvery trees. We blindfolded ourselves and tried to grab things from under our noses, and I was on the sideline, mostly, with my camera.
We went river-crossing; nothing says spring more than the first sting of ice water rushing past knees and ankles. Whatever the city weather says, spring is out here somewhere. Bye bye February, and January, this is the time of year when you die.
When night came, there we were, all in one place, a generation just kicking it, with time enough for every thing. John started a fire for us- nimbly, quickly- using only two pieces of wood and twine. Fire is the devil's only friend but we sure enjoyed it that night.
And as I watched the flames climb high into the night, my hands unclenched and we sang songs about angels born in hell breaking Satan's spell. The cool, night time air was sweet perfume, and John played Mason Jennings songs on his guitar. And you'd better believe we were drinking whiskey and rye. All throughout the campsite, most of the people were dreaming, we may have kept them up, but not a word was spoken from them, and the tent lights were flickering out for the night.
And then, early in the morning after singing The Gambler and telling our rambling stories, the four people I admire most found their way into their own sleeping bags and caught the last train into sleep. Goodnight, good old boys and good old girls, goodnight.