This week is our last week in Idaho. Corinne is at the cave cabin tonight, to think in the fire-warmed dark and have epiphanies about her path in life, while the stars wink on over the salmon river and the goats, once tamed for milk and now gone wild again, bed down in the clumps of trees that cap the dark hills. The cave cabin is a small room carved out of the stone mountain and framed inside with logs. The front wall is made of mud and old car windshields, everything is fitted together with clever bits of wood, and the window opens on leather hinges. There is a woodstove made from an old steel drum, set into the rock at the back of the cave. There are a few shelves, two oil lamps, and a teapot. There is a shitter at the end of a little path that runs along the hill, it is made of recycled planks. Last time we were there, there was a frozen tower of turds in the hole where you shat into. Turds stacked one on top of the other, all winter long. But the weather has been warm, and I imagine the tower is now melted and collapsed.
Inside the cabin there is a rough board that serves as a desk, fastened just below the windows that look out at the river and the sunset and the stars. There is a chair pulled up to the desk, and some paper and old national geographics. I imagine Corinne sitting there, mapping out her life, burning beeswax candles and playing with her tarot cards. I sent some mung-bean patties with her, for dinner, and some split pea soup and rice. She took a big glass jug of spring water, the good spring water that comes from the tap here, and has so many minerals the glasses are never clean. It gets cold at night, still, but she has plenty of wood and blankets and though the vent on the stove at the cave-cabin is busted open and the fire burns too fast, she’ll get up at night to feed it, and build it up again in the morning to heat water in the teapot for her tea.
Here at the house I’ve been having my own sort of ritual, the kind where I read in bed for six hours, oddly cold and then too hot, and wait for my period to come. While the sun was out today I sat next to the river and read there, the wind blowing my blanket and the dog, the ugly wiry-haired brown dog with the weird yellow eyes, came up and sat next to me, next to the rock labyrinth that has just as much horse-shit in it as stones. The yellow grass bent in the wind, and the horse chewed at the ground and moved around, and I wished I knew how to ride horses, and I was strangely content, and I wished I never had to leave. There is so much to do, besides sitting in the sun and reading, and working on writing projects that may never be finished but grow larger anyway, foolishly, and surprise me every day- there is walking in the hills and collecting crystals, which Corinne can see better than I can, because I need glasses, but there are still enough that I find plenty- and back at the house we break the big rocks open with hammers to find the geodes inside, the geodes that we think might be inside, and get glittering bits of crystal all over the cement deck and laugh, like children, and feel like children, and I watch Corinne grow younger, and her freckles come out, in the desert, like magic spots, the nicest color brown, and her eyes flash like gemstones, and her lips are the color of amethyst, and she is happy-
It makes a person trust in the future. And there is no reason to trust in the future, and so it makes a person try and figure out how the future will happen, so that it might seem reasonable to trust in it- but there is no reason in trust, and trust, in a sense, is the opposite of hope- it is acceptance instead- this trust- the belief that Everything will be ok is not a belief that everything will, indeed, be ok, but a declaration that Whatever happens, I accept it, and then of course you can let go of the fear, and you are just where you are, and your shirt is full of crystals that you have carried home from the desert, where you were almost lost in a ravine choked with brush, but you helped each other find the animal trail, for cows and deer and wise beasts, and you climbed down the rock and crumbling earth to home, and everything smelled of sage, and it was the new moon. And you were happy, and you trusted.
I don’t want to go back to the city. Can you tell? But Corinne has to, and if I was out here alone it would be like my oxygen had been taken away. I am going to try and come back, to this land where there are no dance parties or potlucks or readings or buildings full of books or unique ingredients for cooking or really any kale, but still, there is so much to do- we haven’t even ridden the four-wheeler to the secret lake, yet, where in spring the fish are so thick you can grab them up with your hands, nor have we ridden the horse, or had our photo shoot in the good sun at the abandoned log farmhouse in the tall golden grasses, wearing the ridiculous clothing we got from the thrift store in town, holding a BB gun or a length of rope or teacups. One of us was going to be the cowboy and one of us was going to be little house on the prairie in a bright neon Technicolor muumuu, with a wicker hat with a big length of ribbon, blowing in the wind. And the shirt for the cowboy is thick cotton with turquoise feathers on it and geometric designs. And Frannie wants a bit of the wallpaper.
And there is so much else! I haven’t learned the constellations yet, for example. And I haven’t done my howling-wolves cross stitch and I haven’t built a miniature log cabin out of twigs that I fell with a tiny, imaginary chainsaw as imaginary winter comes quickly and notch and fit together just in the nick of time. And I haven’t found any roadkill, and I haven’t made a potroast. And I haven’t had a garden. The days pass so fast, and I thought they would go so slow. But when do the days ever go slow? It seems that time is speeding up, that life is a spiral into nothingness, faster and faster, and only youth have the slow smooth arch of the outside circle, where for a moment there is immortality and unspeakable wealth, as if there will always be enough of everything, and the minutes run through you and make you larger, and so little happens that you see it all and take it all in and there is still some of you left over at the end of eac day. I am not old yet but already, time is going too fast, and there is not enough of me.
And what of you, dear reader? No doubt you live in a building surrounded by other buildings, in a great glowing stretch of lit-up buildings, where weather doesn’t matter and all the crystals have long ago been picked from the earth or paved over. It’s where humans live, these days, nearly completely all of them, some crazy percent of the world’s population, now residing is cities. More than every before in the history of anything. We are living right this ten minutes in a way that has never been lived before. Everything looks different, if you are a tree or someone who has lived long enough to be able to notice it, than it did for most all of time, and no-one knows why, or where this train is headed. But it doesn’t matter because the train is headed nowhere, it is just the feeling of moving, this vibration, the earth through space. And I wonder- if time passes because we are on the earth and the earth is moving around the sun, and that is a day and night, then what is time on the sun? I imagine that there is no time on the sun. There is only one moment, and that moment is the moment of burning. And we are small burnings, children of the sun, small heat factories, tiny combustion engines, making energy. So is there time for us, or just this one moment, the moment of burning? And what gives it shape and color? And why are there feelings?
Who knows the answer to my questions? The trees know, but they are not telling. They are made of sun and water, they are indifferent to both time and space. They do not mind me asking, though, foolish mortal that I am, vibrating like a hummingbird, no roots to prove that I exist. They humor my need to see shape and color and space and time, my need to feel their curled white bark and think bark, to lean my forehead against their furrowed trunks, to ask the simplest, and largest questions, to get pine pitch stuck in my hair and think pine pitch. They cannot make existence small enough for me to understand, but if I turn off my brain, they can help me to almost feel it- and it is like a wind, a warm wind, the sort of wind that comes from sun, from water, from movement. And that is all it is.