Tomato Goes Hiking In Pagosa
I knew I was special. No one had told me why nevertheless I knew my protective skin was beautiful and my squishy insides segmented, perishable and one of the kind special.
Rough, that is how I would describe my previous handling. But, I don’t blame the dry, overused hands that had a job to do as I was chosen from the greenhouse vine and unscrupulously placed in a brown box. After being transported in a cold dark metal container for a couple of days my new placement came in a wicker basket beneath fluorescent and humming lights.
My favorite colors were packed closely – the pitted olive colored avocado, mud smudged orange carrots, the light green of a pear with one little bruise of brown.
Coddled, rubbed and massaged one by one we would disappear. To avoid being mashed on day one I was placed inside an insulating mug that hinted of hot chocolate. Never too hot or too cold I scented what I couldn’t see – the aroma of bluish sagebrush with its stringy graying bark, the piney whiff of a douglas fir and its friendly needles, the red clay of the soil that puffs with a placed step and the hint of hydrogen and oxygen as they bonded for the eventual droplets and crystals to befall us in the late afternoon.
And, though muffled, I heard the wind cross the mesa of the north and pass through the canyon and flow upward to the mesa south. The creek gurgled and fell on rounded rocks that were eons older than my young self.
Un-mugged, the skies were made darker than earlier in the day. Large flakes of snow fell with no abatement and as the minutes and hours passed accumulated and melted with a ying-yang commotion. A bear bag was strung 20 feet high as conversation turned to potential freezing temperatures.
Dry food packed in ziplock bags were hung high on a branch out of reach from any interested bruin and from my vantage point I wouldn’t get a view from the elevated rope swing. Instead, I was taken to the confines of a nylon outside with mesh zip and repeatedly rolled in the restrictions of a down jacket with my newest friends – avocado and pear. Like a mound of fluff we were placed alongside snoring noses, dreaming eyes and worsening breath as the outside darkened and for a short time stars glimmered with an encouraging reminder that tomorrow would be a new day.
Morning time delay; lunch ticked slowly to mid-afternoon. All the while we three remained as placed the evening before. Warmth of the two person abode made it too inviting to leave. Conversation, journal writing and anxious moments of blue clouds warned that we would be packed at any moment. And, finally, when our time came we were held as gently as precious stones.
The girls danced and packed. Stopped and stared. Shared and witnessed. Oogled and pondered. The snow capped mesa’s melted and dried. The blue clouds turned to blue sky. Fold or stuff. Tie or zip. Piece by piece camp was disbanded, ground fall was fluffed and no evidence of our stay remained.
I didn’t see the spiny points of the yucca, the twists of the juniper, the hollow of the grinding stone as I rode on the top of the blue pack. But, I heard the oh’s and ah’s and bleats of happiness as the miles passed with observation stops and taking in the entire experience.
Cracks of thunder were heard in the distance. Coyotes prayed to the sliver of a moon. The white pine boughs shuffled with the winds that carried songs of faraway whispers. Clouds darkened as we tucked between shrinking trees and cactus doing their best to hide their spiny needles. As evening fell I found myself alone with the red potatoes and a chunk of cheese ten feet high dangling in a breeze that flowed in all directions. A few patters of sleet hit the sack but quickly subsided with the darkness and quiet that enveloped like a shroud.
Waiting for sunrise it was the glow of white that peered over the mesa with its shrubby prickles. Few dark clouds provided sky texture and initially hid the nova ball as it grew higher and brighter. Steam from the cook pot motivated as it spilled between the lowest grasses. Frozen droplets shined with the emerging light.
It was the potatoes who were first halved and halved again before being placed into the boiling water. Soon, it would be time for me to sacrifice for the greater good. Despite three days, freezing temperatures and dancing crystals falling from the sky I’d seen, I’d witnessed, I’d observed. It was the best adventure of my life.
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