Wandering Off into Desert Air
I cut firewood and then with DF hosted a Sunday sweat. There has always been something that I like about cutting wood for fire. Here is something real and very human about it. It is an activity shared by ancestors through millennia. I share that like the experience of being in my own skin, something very human and natural, a connection.
A couple of friends came by to share our spiritual cleanse and bathe together. We sang and drummed as perspiration exited our pores, with condensation and it ran all over our bodies, making us shine.
During a break between rounds, as the sun began to set, we all took a nude walk out the trail into the desert. They are the city folk that I have mentioned in other posts, when they had seen deer and javalina for the first time. I take on the role as their guide.
I had a tough time convincing him to wear shoes. He told us, “I never wear shoes and I go all over the place.” Before long, he discovered a ball of jumping cholla prickers. They have to be knocked off with a stick and a swish, otherwise they tend to roll over and prick some more as they stay attached. Attempting to prick them off by hand just gets a hand full of poison. In some places, protective clothing, generally shoes, make sense.
It is however, a delight to wander at this time of day in nude bodies. The heat of the sweat relaxes a body and keeps it warm inside. The pores are open and more sensitive to the peaceful stimulation that they encounter. After the extreme heat, the air outside feels comfortably cool by contrast. We felt almost perfect. We were ready to grasp nature.
This time, while we wandered on the trail, we spotted ten quail on the top of the nearby ridge. A few were calmly sitting on branches of a dead cholla cactus skeleton. They looked like candles on candelabra. We stopped cold at the sight, not but maybe a 12 or 15 feet away. Quail are generally more skittish, but these just sat and posed for us. They made their sweet quail chattering in seeming discussion, for several minutes. It was a beautiful sight, with the gorgeous color and character in these golden granite formations around us. Behind them and off to the east, the Catalina Mountains were also changing color as the sun went down. They glowed from golden orange, to deeper orange. It was a magnificent backdrop.
Suddenly, something spooked the quail and as one, they burst into flight simultaneously. They began fluttering and then gliding in formation into the brush below us, where we had just come from.
We decided to climb up to where they had been on the bare rock surface and watch the world’s display react to the suns warm beams. It was now too late to get to Havarock. We sat quietly atop this ridge, occasionally pointing out something wondrous.
Then, as if on cue, three female deer bounded from down below, by my house. Something was spooking them, too. They are amazing to watch as they jump gracefully from one spot to another over the thick low cactus and bushes. Each would move in the same manner as the one before it, when it would come to the same obstacle. We watched the movement in triplets.
The city folk, wide eyed, were exclaiming awe.
It is such an incredible world to be in, all of this nature and visual amazement and feeling the rock beneath me. All the while, I felt the love for the girl that I was with and our friends inside in my heart. The air cooling in the shadows, crept up on us.
I stood and felt the sun’s warm beams once more, before they departed for the day. Down on the jeep trail by the new neighbor’s house, a woman was following her black dog. They had been the source of the animal’s ruckus that provided our entertainment. I waited; pondering if she might chance to see me up on top of this rise, as clearly as I could see her. I contemplated if that would matter. She turned away, her back to us, her eyes distracted by her dog. She had missed all of this wonder in exchange for her bond with a black lab’s sense of pack.
We headed back as it was getting dark in the dusk, only the top tips of the Catalina Mountains were capped with the now deep red-orange tint of the sun.
By the time that we arrived back at the sauna lodge, the air had become much cooler. The heat from the cozy sweltering structure was comforting and welcoming on our naked skin. I lit the candelabra in the darkening room for light. In candle shadows, we poured water over the rocks and added cedar scent.
An Indian keyboarded flute was played, while a sweet feminine voice chanted familiar kirtan. I picked up a large plastic water bottle and played it as a drum with its deep resonate tone. Fingers tapped on wood in rhythm.