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Summer Snow

3 July 04

Lake San Cristobal

"Moonlight begins
with a thin clear taste,
like water from a tin cup.

Dispassionate, it flows
into all the night's small places. "

     -- Anonymous Bosh

When I got up yesterday, the Floydada family was already gone. I moved over there. It's a nice site. A little patch of woods to break the wind, and a long stretch of bluff to watch the lake and the sunset.

And what sunsets. Occasionally I have seen as gorgeous, over the ocean, but not often. And the ocean seldom acts as a reflecting pool, repeating the clouds and the mountains all around.

You can also sit on the bluff of a morning, and watch the fish slowly moving back and forth below, ignoring the fishermen. You can sometimes see clear to the bottom from up here. I can tell a lot of these guys are Texans, trained to hit the water early. Up here, you want to do just the opposite. Wait till it warms up. The water's too cold until 10 am. Or even better, after lunch. I've watched them lay a line right in front of a huge carp, and while the brute might turn and look at it, he won't bite. The trout are no better, though harder to see.

It's freezing down there. They are barely animate, let alone hungry.

The physical beauty of this place is mesmerizing. You can spend hours just watching the changing light. I did, a book in my lap. And then there is the altitude, above 10 K, which induces torpor in those of us not acclimated. I found myself gasping and stopping to rest during a hike to the bottom of the lake and back. That never happens at home.

It's also very dry, and dehydration sets in before you know it. Your lips begin to crack, your eyes dry out. The sun is deceptively powerful. Even intermittent, filtering and floating down through the trees. The top of my head grew bright red. Even sorta crispy.

All in all, it's a lot like that old song: "Killing me softly with your love." You can easily fall in love with this place, and all the time it's slowly trying to do you in.

Bogie said it best: "It's like this, sschweetheart. I won't play the sap for you, see? I won't." And yet I did.

Which is to say, I didn't get much done on Friday. But I didn't care. When you are at the Axis Mundi, where everything turns around you, it seems gauche to complain. And then around 6 pm Janice showed up from Georgetown, to spend a couple of weeks with me before going back to work. She was tired from the drive, and as for me, after a hard day spent sitting on the bluff, I found cooking steaks on the grill and steaming asparagus, together with the arduous mixing of the salad, about as much as I wanted to do. It wore me out. We burned a little wood afterward, and went to bed.

I woke up at 4 am, hearing the soft plop, plop, plop of something rubbing or falling on the trailer roof. I squinted at the thermometer: 39 degrees. Brrrr. Then I looked out the window.


Is that possible, in July? The pine needles and branches had a thin frosting of white, and it was all over the road, and the rocks leading down to the bluff. This window was right up against the pines, and too narrow to see much. I stumbled out of bed, found my glasses, pulled on my pants, and opened the door.

Waitaminnit. No snow. Cold as bejeebers, but no snow. What the heck? I went back in and looked out the bedroom window again. There it was, dazzling white. Back to the door. Then I saw what had been hidden by the trailer, and by the door.

It was Moonlight.

Shining behind me, pouring down, painting all the world the palest white - the upper parts of the pine needles, the caliche in the road, the rocks below.

I've never seen it so bright. It was hard to look at. It glared. It washed out the stars. It seemed liquid in the air, and solid where it hit the ground. It almost bounced.

As astounding as snow. Almost.

'What is it?" Janice mumbled. "Mmmmmmmff", I replied. I'm not 'fessing up to this. Not yet, anyway. But still I watched out the window for a long time, wide-eyed, warm once again, trying to pierce the illusion. It must be the angle. Without my glasses it's hard to tell.

I think I almost had it figured out when I fell asleep.


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