The sandy path feels good, cool on my soles. I round the bend and there, under the thorny tendrils of a wild rose bush, lie the bottoms of two bare feet, tiny and black with dirt.
We are miles from the Village–Janine, Sena, Cheyenne, Ruby, Merilee, Betty, and I–on our first campout of the season. Minimalists, we sleep on bare ground, our bags zippered close for warmth, thick trampled grasses beneath for cushion.
Sena’s shoulders are high and rigid. She runs a hand through her nappy hair for the umpteenth time and clenches and unclenches her jaw, but her eyes sparkle and her voice is full of mirth.
It is a gorgeous, sunny day in the nursery. Gauzy white curtains flutter at the screened sills. The windows across the western wall are thrown open, letting the spring breezes through–as well as the scents of fresh laundry flapping on the lines and apple pie baking in the kitchens.
Momentarily lucid, I smell scat–fox. Where? I raise my head, but the tears come all the more. Alone here on the open hills, I wail, and on the in-breath, that scat again.
I taste the snow, each individual crystal bursting as it melts on my tongue. My mitten smells of wet wool and cold.
On my back, I give myself a Reiki treatment. Heat flows under my hands, spreading through skin, muscles, bones, organs–warmer and warmer, now hot. If I saw my body from above, would my abdomen glow like hot coals?
Bedtime. … The air wafting through the porch screens is cool-warm, with the scent of rain. My fingers smell of bruised mint leaves, picked from the herb garden beside the stoop not twenty minutes ago.
The buildings and grounds are constructed in concentric arcs that fit the natural contours of the hill, which slopes toward the great Jasper Lake.