”Courage is Fear that has said it’s Prayers”
A lovely woman I recently met in a dog park wrote those words to me after reading one of this month’s posts.
You know how some words fly by us, and some “stick”? I used to say that to my doctor – that I had “sticky thoughts” or “sticky images” and not much else. Like as if my life were a movie, I could only catch a sentence or two of the film every 15 minutes or so. And when I was feeling really unwell, it would be only the scary words, or distressing images.
I’m so happy, and grateful, that right now in this life on the road and out in nature, the words and images currently “sticking” are words of encouragement and images of beauty like the ones she shared with me today. Courage is fear that has said it’s Prayers. Those beautiful words just keep rolling around in my mind, which doesn’t want to let go of them.
I was afraid to set off, in the beginning. Of course I was. I suppose a prayer is an expression of hope, a moment in which we dare to imagine something good- a favourable outcome – in the face of fear. And then we take action. It’s true, then. I guess I said my prayers and dared to hope a change of scenery and lifestyle would help me reclaim my health.
There is little cell signal down at the lake, so I have been coming up to the restaurant 4 miles up the road to write among the locals and visitors who also gather here.
Today, breakfast-barstool talk is on rattlesnakes, a plan to drain the lake and the delivery of 13 doves, cleaned and frozen, to a friend up the road. A man gives me a home-made business card in the event I want to buy a “substandard lot in the desert” that he has “put water on”. I’m not sure he has quite perfected his sales pitch but we have a nice visit.
There is a lost dog tied up outside who appears to be have been abandoned. This conclusion has been reached after a week of no inquiries. I feel distress hearing talk about how it’s common that dogs are left to die in the desert; the cruelty of it fills my bones. When I leave later, I spend time sitting with her on her blanket outside, fighting back tears. She is between packs – I can feel her lack of a reference point- and it breaks my heart. She’s untethered; alone. I say a prayer someone will soon decide she belongs to their pack.
I suspect the waitress who has been caring for her this week, and putting up posters, is a part of this equation. I decide to focus on this hope.
No one knows why the lake is to be drained, but rumours abound. No one is happy about it. I find myself joining in the distress. Will it be fully drained? Will the fish be ok? What about all the birds? I try not to think about it. By the end of my writing time, it appears that this has happened before without catastrophe, so my mind feels a bit more at ease.
Beer is consumed at 9:30 am but a couple guys who don’t appear to have slept – ever – and the two fellows from a nearby camp (the ones who collect cool desert things) have come in with their walking sticks to have ice tea. They walk between 10-15 miles each day in the desert, collecting rocks and other items. I enjoy hearing about what they have found. There is no doubt in my mind that they have a world full of knowledge about nature and the desert, gathered and stored.
I note they don’t appear to be carrying their guns today. Weapons? Sidearms? I’m not sure how people refer to their guns – i can hardly say the word gun without lowering my voice; which I imagine to be a Canadian affliction. I stumble over it in a way some parents stumble over “private parts” the first time they are obligated to speak them to a three year old. I suppose all powerful or mysterious words are first whispered.
I noticed their lack of weapons today because there is a sign on the restaurant door that says no guns are allowed, pursuant to one regulation or another and I think they usually have them. In Quartzsite I remember seeing a poster that reminded customers to please ensure the lock was on their weapon before “trying them in the holsters” which were sold there. I guess nothing was pursuant in that store. It’s certainly a secret society to this Canadian. Interestingly, I haven’t felt afraid. Except that one time in the McDonalds Drive-through, of all places. I’ll write about that another time.
My friend joined me when I finished writing and we went to explore a place in the desert where ravens were circling in earnest. We both watch birds with earnestness ourselves, so we can’t seem to talk ourselves out of this need to satisfy out curiousity. I know this sounds a bit morbid. It’s no mystery why ravens often circle, but it feels natural (out here) to want to know what all the fuss is all about. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be compelled to explore ravens in an alley in the city, that’s for sure. There is a place and time for such exploration.
As we get closer we decide we suspect we won’t find a carcass, as there is no tell-tale odour. As we walk closer, I reserve my right to change my mind about our mission at any moment. But we are right (and I, relieved) when we find a large collection of old garbage. I’d call it a landfill, except it’s on BLM land and clearly unmanaged. There is a mix of old and new cast-offs. Mostly tin cans and broken bottles. Old hose, a rusty heater. Some recent fruit and vegetable peelings, which may have attracted the birds. It’s sad, that people leave their garbage behind.
When we get back to camp I find myself looking for and picking up little bits of trash I find (that is not mine) and adding it to my bag, which is now almost full. I can’t do anything about the big site, but I can take care of my little space, and try to leave it cleaner than when I arrived.
Which makes me think of leaving. And how it’s still not time.