I waken to stillness.
My hands tingle, hot with Reiki energy. Cheyenne sleeps soundly. Something wakened me. What?
There. On the porch. In the starless, fog-shrouded darkness, the slight silhouette of a head. I recognize the shape, the slightly irregular thatch of hair.
Rising, I lift my kimono from the foot of the bed, wrap the supple fabric tight, pull the sash, and gently push open the screen door. Moist fog touches my face, each tiny droplet engaging a nerve ever so gently. I inhale deeply. Again, the scent of cat.
Thirteen year old Jacob sits in silent meditation. Not a twitch or stir as I approach.
He knew I would come. A zafu lies next to him on the slate floor.
I grab two afghans from the chest under the window, drape one over Jacob’s knees, and take my seat, folding the other over my lap, the wool instantly warm.
It is not yet light, the air still. Fog rests against the earth, holding yesterday’s warmth under its blanket.
I close my eyes, spine straight, stretched tall, my shoulders easy, palms slightly cupped on my thighs.
Images flutter through my mind. Jacob’s easy birth, Marita, his mother, and Jonathan, his dad, panting together, pushing together.
A picnic in the hills, Jacob mesmerized by brown-striped newts sunning themselves on hot rocks near the stream.
Marita’s long illness, Jacob carrying trays of soup and bread, along with pearly shells and colorful feathers, gifts from the Earth.
Jacob appearing at my kitchen door, silent, holding a kitten, a bunny, a turtle. Sometimes the animal is injured. We tend it together.
Jonathon’s frantic call to villagers to look for Jacob, again and again, after he’s wandered alone into the hills.
Finding him so often, perched on a rock in rain, beating sun, high wind, or seemingly airless days, sitting, listening, watching.
Almost always tracks–sometimes it would seem an entire flock of quail circled him. Others, we saw the tracks of coyote or wolf, and sometimes mountain lion.
Once, the unmistakable imprint of a rattlesnake in the soft dry soil next to the boy.
Focus on the breath.
Feel the breath cool against the tip of my nostrils.
Feel the breath slightly warmer, passing that tip again.
I quiet my mind, letting go all thoughts, letting them pass through like water.
When he is ready, Jacob reaches for my hand, as he has done since he was a mite. Warm, dry, his palm is thick, callused, his fingers boyishly long and thin, but surprisingly strong.
His breathing shifts, long cleansing breath.
I follow with one of my own.
“What can I do for you, Jacob?”
He is silent a moment more, then: “Cougar.”
The cat in the dream.
“I watched her birth her cubs tonight. Three of them.”
Jacob turns to face me, withdraws his hand. “Rose, it was the most amazing thing! I think she knew I was there. She didn’t seem to mind. She let me watch! Oh, Rose, they came out one by one, slowly. She grunted once, and that was the only sound. It was a-may-zing!”
“You are amazing, Jacob. How did you know she wouldn’t hurt you?”
“She needed me, Rose.”
He doesn’t try to explain, trusting me to understand. I don’t entirely. No one in Ordinary possesses the affinity for animals Jacob does, though Ralph comes close.
Jacob sits in silence once more, eyes closed, breath measured.
I too close my eyes and breathe with him until long after I feel the sun on my face, the fog lifting to another glorious day.
Only when he is gone, quietly slipping away to his morning chores, do I open my eyes, take a long, slow breath, fold my hands to my chest and bow.