Monday, April 16, 2007

take a road trip with me...

A hummingbird whistled by on its way to the tulip feeder hanging from the bough of their first Christmas tree from 12 years ago. Christmas was packed up and the seasons had come and gone while the little Aleppo pine grew into a tall, stately and strong tree. She loved this tree, for it reminded her of childish days spent up in the boulders and pines of Iron Springs at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Whenever the breeze blew strong enough, the sound of the pine needles bracing against the wind took her back to those days of jumping rocks and summer nights.

The sun rays of the morning played a maze among the branches of her English Garden. This was the middle of the Sonoran desert outside of Phoenix, but to her, it was an escape from the reality of sand, cactus, sticks and brown. The Aleppo definetly held court in this corner of the yard, but others had their reign. There was a weathered white arbor at the beginning of the flagstone surface. Red climbing roses made their way up each side, one with more success than the other. Pieces of a whitewashed fountain dotted the surrounding garden. A sundial face with the words “grow old with me, the best is yet to be’ sat atop one of those pieces. She loved it because of the oak leaf and acorn design casts into it. Snapdragons played ‘hide and seek’ among an arch of what use to be the bowl of the fountain. The white wire fencing along the backside of the garden was woven with the green leaves of a snail vine; the purple ‘snails’ inching their way along the aimless vines intertwined. To the right, a weathered porch column held up a bird house with two wooden birds inviting all to stay here past the garden gate. The column has been a find during a quick antiquing trip in Moline, Illinois during a visit to bury her ex-husband’s father. It was a mild relief to an otherwise somber trip. The white, lead laden paint was releasing its hold on the column, revealing a previous owners penchant for green. Around the base of the pine, old insulators of white and turquoise encircled the trunk. She was the eternal optimist when it came to planting and her latest folly included irises, freesia, calla lillys, lavender, English ivy, roses, unruly mint, columbine, a sunflower or two and disheveled catnip. These all provided the setting to the little green iron table with four matching spring chairs that played center stage. A small khaki market umbrella provided additional shade along with a jacaranda tree and a lone almond tree.

This was her paradise. It was her sanctuary. It was sacred to her. It’s where she had her morning coffee on those rare days when she could indulge in the morning revelry. Often she would bring along the two new kittens to scamper among the garden. Bella and Gambit would stalk and attack with kitten force; one pouncing on top of the other from the kitty rock of rose granite. The sound of baby wrens from the under eves of the roof filled the morning air with a cacophony of song. Occasionally a butterfly would flutter by. She wondered if this was her mom’s way of saying ‘hello’. Her mother’s death a year and a half ago still was fresh on her heart. Her biggest struggle with it was the fact that she never felt like her mother was ever with her anymore. Others have said that they can ‘feel’ the presence of their lost one, but not her. Hers seemed to be a solitary grief. Perhaps that was due in part to the wall around her heart. Sometimes it served her well, while other times it seemed to keep out the good, as well.

The Vaseline pitcher of lemonade made for the perfect setting in the garden to sift through the mail by. Bills, a favorite magazine’s newest issue, junk mail and a letter. Typical fair. However, the return address on the letter caught her attention, and her breath, when she saw it. Payson, Arizona. Ahh… Payson. The gate to the land that she loved. Payson was about 75 minutes (65 if Bob Seger sang the whole way) away and oh, what a place it was. Nothing fancy, mind you. A sleepy (but growing) town built in the Ponderosa Pines on the Mogollion Rim. She had made many a trek up there; either going through to another mountain destination, or simply to get away from the desert for the day. Payson was part cowboy, part country. Quaint, slow moving, un-commercialized of the big name stores…mostly. But that probably wouldn’t be for long.

It was on one of these trips that she had caught a rock in the brake drum of her burgundy Tahoe. Oh, don’t mess with her Tahoe! She loved that truck! It was her own world and provided many a soothing mile for music, reflection and adventure! Her friends knew of her love for her Tahoe, and it was humorously respected. The rock had lodged so that it made an awful, metal sound while driving into town, so she stopped at what looked like the first reputable garage to see what damage could be done, and would be done.

The young man behind the counter had dark hair and was hardly older than her 23 year old son. He was pleasant enough and gave the obligatory “We’ll have to take a look at it to see.” Okay, fine. So while the Tahoe was up on the rack, she walked on down the sidewalk to check out the buildings doting this main street. A little cafĂ©, a museum dedicated to Zane Grey, a sewing shop and a book store. All charming and small town.

Returning to see what had been found, she was met by someone different. He introduced himself as the owner and said she was in luck – a rock had caused all of the commotion and had been removed. As soon as the boys put the wheel back on, she was free to continue on her way. “What do I owe you?” she asked. He gave her a quick study, looked down briefly at the grease-stained floor.

‘Oh, great!” she thought. Probably $50 just for a dumb rock!

“It’s on the house.’ was his reply.

"Are you sure?”

“Yep. I’m not about to make a profit off of your bad luck.”

1 comment:

Chickenbells said...

Riveting and beautiful, you write with poetic grace indeed...I felt like I was there, and it has indeed been years since I visited Payson...and never in a truck. It makes me want to run a road trip soon (because once you get the taste, it's hard not to isn't it?) Maybe after the new car this weekend? Oh, how nervous am I?