Home again, with much to tell. I seldom travel so far.
Cheyenne, Merilee, Cathy and Mitre, and I drove to the small regional airport in one of the three electric mini-buses the village maintains.
It was one of those incredibly hot late-August days. We were constantly rolling the windows up and down, first craving fresh air, the scents of the countryside, then needing a spate of cool air conditioning and the quiet of windows-up to talk.
Thankfully, Cheyenne is as interested in the landscape and wildlife as any of us and never pushes past 35 or 40 miles per hour on our little-used gravel roads. Long lost, the youthful desire for speed. Now we enjoy the opportunity to watch the changing scenery unroll before us.
We counted two foxes, fourteen deer, three bald eagles, an osprey over the wetlands, and I am absolutely certain, though others disputed it, that I saw a mountain lion standing on the bluff overlooking the roadway as it curved into the valley beyond the Village of Adriene.
I feel a special affinity for the big cats, as you know, and can smell them long before I see them. Her silhouette against the shimmering air was unmistakable. One moment she was there, and then she was gone, leaping into the underbrush.
Along the way, Mitre regaled us with stories of his youth, growing up far to the north where the summer days are so long darkness barely falls an hour or two, and temperatures rarely as hot as this.
In no time at all the three hour drive had passed and we were climbing aboard the small, sleek jet that would take us not so far north as Mitre’s country, but far enough, to the Village of Jasper, where our daughter Balboa and her beloved Packer live and had planned their wedding and built their home.
Balboa and her sister Jasmine grew up with Ruby, Cheyenne, and me in Ordinary. For many years, their fathers, Beryl and Ronnie, remained in the village as well, and were active in their daughters’ lives.
All four of us choosing to parent, Cheyenne and I took turns, one pregnancy each, three years apart, through artificial insemination. Beryl and Ronnie, wanting to feel each was the father of both children, combined their sperm before donating, and none of us have bothered to have the girls tested to see who is the biological father of either.
When Beryl’s parents, who lived all their lives in the high mountain village of Jasper, yearned for their son to live near them, he and Ronnie moved back to his childhood home. A few years later, missing her dads, Balboa chose to do her first year of community service in her father’s home village.*
Balboa stayed in Jasper one extra year, then two, then three. Along the way, she came to love Packer. They have been together five years and decided last year to wed.
Living so far from her, I miss Balboa terribly, like an ache in my body, and long to see her face, feel her long, smooth fingers in my big, calloused, gardening hand, far more often than is practical at this distance. Still, she is happy and well loved. For that I am ever grateful.
I’ll tell more about our trip and the wedding, which was small, joyful and blessed with the weather of the gods beside the bluest lake I’ve ever seen, tomorrow perhaps, if I can tear myself from the weeds and the burgeoning harvest.
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*A note to the reader:
All young people do community service in villages far from their birthplace. Most try out several villages over a period of years, usually in regions remote from one another, to learn the ways of others, to enrich their vocabulary and experience, and to share the knowledge and culture of their home villages.