It is dusk when I arrive, over bleached rocks dry and white, at the river’s edge. Shadowy enough that I flinch when lizard scurries under brush and bat swoops across my path.Self-absorbed and squatting there under hypnosis of water rushing-its-hushing-by, instinct jerks my head toward the periphery as a young doe emerges. She halts. We stare at each other. And stare longer. Until I get bored and look away. I usually give up before they do.
The light glows peachy on the pines, cedars and oaks, dense, immense and ancient on the mountain. I can hear the voice of Cella, an artist I know who paints magnificent canvases of roses, “It’s called the ‘gloaming,’ this time of the day when the light is just like this.” I remember how she looked at the light the way others worship deities.
Young doe begins to cross the shallow river (I must have missed her drinking). She makes a purposeful line to the opposite bank, moving carefully, deliberately, rhythmically. I can feel her intimate communication with the water. She is a part of its rhythm. She falters very little and hesitates only slightly as she makes her way through current, crevice and slippery rock to the other side.
Must be those stylin’ hooves she’s got and those long, lithe gams. I imagine the spectacle of making the same crossing: wobbly-cursing-slipping-falling on my ass in a big dramatic splash-river retreads flying in the air-yelling-whining about the cold-freaking about losing control in the current-some hurrah of aggrandizement upon completion. I smile about how ridiculous it is to be human.
I cup water in my hands and splash my face. The intensity has me catch my breath. I keep washing my face until the water feels like it has penetrated my spirit and the cobwebs are floating down the river.
Refreshed, somewhat reluctant, I turn away from the fading warmth of the bank to make my way back home. I am stopped by a crescent of new moon standing out bright white in the pink purple velvet sky. I feel my bursting heart. I open to the throbbing pulse of love and joy.
I surrender to the annihilating ecstasy of beauty. I allow the tears of gratitude to flow.
We never step into the same river twice.
You can check out Cella’s magnificent roses here.