Home after a week of basking on the beach in Sedona, (well… not actually basking on the beach but slumped in a red rattan chair on the patio where I faced the sun and imagined hearing the surf slurp in and out in the distance) I give thanks.
Life can’t get any better. Last week we were with family and giving thanks to Dick and Dina Pohanish who host us and to everyone who had made the annual trip. We numbered 12 and entertained ourselves with hiking, movies, cards, books, and bocce.
I was so grateful that our Denver daughters (husband, boyfriend, baby and dogs) had made it safely driving through the night. Prior to their arrival, I noticed that I had a big splotch of baby burp on the left shoulder of my black, down vest. I hesitated to remove it. What if (what is it with mothers who are prone to image the worst?) Laura, Miguel and Jackson died driving to Arizona? I imagined their hitting a bull elk, a herd of deer or falling asleep at the wheel. I vowed to keep the splotch. Should they have an accident, the baby burp (a love letter of sorts) would be my most cherish possession. I would save the burp until I knew that they were safe.
The words “memento mori” come to mind. I think of our daughter Sarah who has told me that she always keep our most recent voice mail or her phone… just in case. A talisman of sorts. Seneca wrote: “Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day… the one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”
Prior to leaving Westcliffe for our annual family reunion, I looked for an appropriate Thanksgiving poem to be read at the table. There was Ted Kooser’s poem, Applesauce; Joy Harjo’s poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here (at the table); and Adelaid Crapsey’s cinquain, November Night: Listen / With faint dry sound / Like steps of passing ghosts / The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees / And fall.
I love the Crapsey poem – the syllable count (2, 4, 6, 8, 2) and “frost-crisp’d” word choice. At only 4,000 feet elevation, Sedona’s fall follows that in Westcliffe. We lost our leaves early this year – nipped before their color-time by an early frost. But Sedona is still alive with color. The golden Sycamore trees glow in the sun. Everywhere you look, various colors shout their last hurrah. “Look at me,” they call. “I’m on my way out. You’ll miss me when I’m gone.” And we will miss them.
Driving down Verde Valley School Road to Red Rocks Crossing, we held our breath. Would our favorite site be over-run with tourists? But no, the locals were home watching football, and the tourists were out and about, but not at the crossing. We pretty much had the site to ourselves and what a sight it was.