El Loco Termina
8. A Walk
Today started out beautifully, with lots of sun, relatively cool crisp weather, and I began my normal routine, which is to take a walk with our dog Giordi for exercise for us all. These are not long nor difficult, but they seem to provide a good start for the day, clear our minds, and set the tone for whatever is next. They also help clear my mind, which is increasingly in need of that.
We are blessed to live in a very private area (some call it a remote feature-less dry and dusty desert) and we almost never see anyone, although we can see parts of other houses in the distance, most hidden by shrubbery or foliage. The terrain is both flat in places, and quite hilly and challenging in others. About a mile away is a promontory of sorts, with vast and sweeping views of the desert and nearby mountains to the south, with the hills north of Santa Fe in the distance about 30 miles away.
I love to walk out to the promontory, where the view is 360 degrees, and and there the mountains and valleys are easily viewed. That place abruptly ends in an almost vertical rocky cliff, and about a hundred feet below is a channel with a seasonal stream in a somewhat wider channel, mostly covered with flora and fauna. It is an inspiring and uplifting view, and my favorite place to go, where I can be alone with my thoughts, and experience gratitude for all that I have and experience here.
There is a broad field on the way to this place described above, and even some old wagon or automobile tracks in the virgin scrub-brush, from an older period that I cannot identify. I have no idea as to why they are there, as they seem to start and end somewhat randomly. Today, instead of going to the promontory, I went another way, down to the channel below it, where I have been many times, and was surprised to see that the greenery had grown remarkably, and now filled and dominated the old path in the very old channel that is often filled with water in the rainy season. We have had unusual rains this season, which is sorely needed in the desert.
Today I went along with Giordi, who always walks mostly within view, not very close, but in periodic contact. I think I am walking him, but actually he is walking me, always aware of where I am, even if I cannot see him. I no longer worry if I cannot, for he seems to have an uncanny sense of where I am, and even if I do not have him in my view, he ends up back at the house at almost the same time that I do. I have no idea how he does that; he is much smarter than I am, and likely more peaceful, as he is not bothered with a inquisitive brain that wants to meddle and judge and change and wonder. I do however think that he does appreciate his surroundings, but does not ever try to change anything, as far as I can see, just to appreciate it. He is my role model.
As the two of us approached the canyon, I almost did not recognize it, and had a severe case of cognitive dissonance. It was as if I had entered the Amazon jungle, as the greenery had greatly increased since the last time I was there, and seemed to cover the previous path in the channel (usually dry) which was now running with water, although not very deep. We have had much rain recently, and the growth has been unusual. Since I knew the way, and had been there many times, Giordi and I proceeded to enter the broad and shallow channel with hills and cliffs on both sides, and shortly I was in a green jungle of sorts, my boots in shallow water, and walking through grass, shrubs, and various forms of growth, some quite challenging and difficult to penetrate. I could still see the cliffs, but not easily, and although I knew the way by following the channel, I began to become a bit uneasy, as my mind imagined the various creatures that come out when moisture is there, including the snakes and other demons my mind conjured up, many with green and red beady eyes and fangs and claws, ravenous with hunger and angry at the intrusion into their sacred home, and although I have never seen any, I knew for certain they were there, lurking and awaiting the chance to strike.
I could no longer see Giordi, and called out to him, but obviously he was much smarter than I was, and had turned back, or worse, been devoured by all the alien lifeforms lurking in the deep underbrush. And so, rather than be embarrassed by turning back (I am a traditional male, after all), I plunged ahead, and sure enough, it got worse. I briefly considered calling an emergency number for help, but of course there was no cell phone service available, and anyway, death was far better than humiliation, as all guys instinctively know, since it is hard-wired into our DNA.
The growth was more than I had ever seen before, obstructing the view, and I followed the ever smaller wet channel with higher and higher growth on each side, awaiting the lions and tigers and bears and snakes and lizards and other horrors that surely were waiting for some plump specimen of humanity to come along for their entertainment and possibly dinner.
I plunged ahead, started rethinking my strategy, and gradually I emerged from the Amazonian jungle filled with all those deadly and venomous reptiles, which I could not see but obviously were there, and began to emerge in what passes for civilization, and ultimately saw some hills that were familiar, in the far distance, and ultimately emerged after getting to them, climbed a hill, and was back on the path to civilization. I half expected to see some khaki-clad British soldier emerge from the dense and foreboding jungle and say: "Doctor Livingston, I presume."
When I came back to the house some time later, with a greatly bruised ego, I somewhat shakily opened the gate, and went to sit on the patio to rest myself after the arduous and bone-chilling near-death experience, and there lay Giordi, looking up, with a quizzical look, as if to say: "What took you so long?"
And that was my close brush with death, at least for today.
Giordi and His World