Oh, this sun. This view. The golden light that hovers low and sharp. The layers of blue that dissolve beyond the valley into dark mist. The scrabble of brown grasses and dried out flowers and broken brush. The paths that roll up and down and away. A hawk floating silently high above, circling and slow. The dark, inky green that the trees become from up here. Small curls of smoke rising from small houses in the valley. I picture wildflowers and tall grasses in spring, how the ancient orchard will begin to froth with the first frosty green. Soon, but not now. Now it is just a wicked tangle of blackish sticks, brittle in the sunlight. It's the layers of subtle color that I love, winter layers, dull and smoky. Caramel, evergreen, peach, midnight, olive, mustard, dove. Even in the warm sunlight there's a haze of gray. She picks up handfuls of small stones and wobbles, staggering too quickly down the path. There are so many things to pick up, mind racing faster than filly legs. Her hands are filled and she squats again, deciding what to trade for what. This rock for that rock. This rock for that. Wobble wobble. I want to walk forever, to get to every hill and dale, and look back, and over there, and that way. Turn in a circle: The mountain. The valley. That mountain. The city. The sun gets lower. Sinking behind the trees. I love it there, and rarely see it anymore — first winter I can remember in seventeen years where I've seen winter sunsets. A lady marches past us and looks vaguely behind her, in the direction I'm looking, and says, "What are you looking at?" I say, "The sun," and she says, "Oh, I thought I was missing something," and marches on. He throws me a smile and I giggle back. We're going down, down, in the shade of the side of the hill now. Amelia is quiet and sleepy, soft and round and warm. I blow on her nose to warm it. She reviews all the parts of my face: Nose. Mouth. Eye. Eye. Teeth. Forehead. Hair. Ear. Earring. Other earring. First earring. Nose. Her tiny, warm fingertip on my nose. Eskimo kiss in the cold. I want to build us a little camp, a lean-to made of gray wood with a cot and a nest of comforters, build a campfire to toast a little hot dog, and marshmallows to melt into hot chocolate. We'd watch the sun go all the way down, and see the moon come up over the trees. There would be stars then, frozen and twinkling in the winter-black sky. You'd see them through the cloud of your warm breath lit by firelight, fogging the darkness.
Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens from Powell Butte, 1/25/14.