“I know women like you,” said the knife sharpener.
He looked at me, unsmiling, then– “Ha!” he fell back into guffaws.
I paid him for my freshly sharpened scissors and walked back across the empty lot behind the farmers market to my car.
Beauty makes people behave strangely.
Yeah, I said it. I am beautiful. Three years after evacuating my Washington State home, I am feeling good, and healthy, and striding through life in Levi’s and purple Timberland boots. Not every day is like yesterday, full of confidence and vitality. I still need plenty of down time to rest and reflect, but there seem to be more good days than bad, knock wood.
This morning I got up and dressed in the pre-dawn light, and ate my oat-raisin-coconut-banana-chia porridge while looking out the east window at the sunrise. Chopped up a big-ass carrot that was so fresh it stained my hands orange, and went out into the morning chorus. Lotta birds here, large and small. Various horses whinnied as I approached the stable.
“Good morning, Shadow,” I said to the paint. “Good morning, Kady.” She’s a retired cattle horse, a beautiful mover. “Good morning, Jake,” to a registered quarter horse who allowed me to ride him last week. “Good morning, Jetson,” to a shy roan. Black Magic was off in his pen, away from the main drag I was on. Old Cisko trotted around his corral while I filled his bin with a mixture of food pellets, vitamin powder, and vegetable oil. Everybody got carrots, except Magic, who isn’t allowed sweets.
The sun broke through the high clouds every so often, enough to color the edges a deep rose. I washed my hands, grabbed my rucksack, and headed for the ocean.
Most of the half-mile hike is through sand and coastal scrub, though parts of the trail are a little firmer where, in the ’40’s, the army “improved” the road in order to drive vehicles through. Now that it’s after Labor Day, there are even fewer people in this state park, especially in the morning. I note lizard, rabbit, and coyote tracks, and what I now — after weeks of believing them snake tracks — think are snail trails, winding down into horse prints and out again. I saw a brown-shelled snail a few mornings ago, with a sticky excretion lassoing around behind it.
At the top of the last dune, I stop for awhile to watch the clouds lighten to pink, the roar of the ocean at my back, small birds flitting high in the sky in pairs and flocks. Eventually I hike down to the shoreline.
Instead of jumping in the water as usual, I sit on a piece of bleached driftwood and drink raspberry rose tea from a beat up green REI thermos. Up the beach a man is fishing in the turbulent white water. A small line of pelicans cruises the waves, and curlews with their down-curved beaks search for clams. A raft of dark birds float out past the surf line, maybe cormorants, but they’re too far away to see.
Yesterday I shared a stretch of ocean with a seal, perhaps the same seal as the day before, but who knows? No seals or sea lions in sight today, though I know they’re out there. After awhile the marine layer blocks out the sun, so I get up to start the hike home.
There’s a bush that’s blooming now, with delicate yellow-green daisy-like flowers and a sweet scent. It smells a little like a very faint tuberose. When the wind is right, I can smell it from my apartment. Bees like it. Today it’s more fragrant on the way back from the beach, or maybe I’m not so intent as I pass by on the return journey. A dragonfly flutters overhead while I stop to inhale. So good.
Back at the ranch, I hear a neighbor’s door creak open, but I don’t feel like chatting, so head down, I climb the stairs on the south side of the house. Unaccosted, I open the gate at the top, and grab the horsehair brush by my front door.
Sand and dust brushed off jeans and boots, I step inside the warm studio.