The sun is still above the red rocks, but the sliver grows smaller between the tops of the butte and the bottom of the yellow ball each time I look over. I’m drinking a chai—heavier on star anise than I’m used to, and absolutely delicious—on this second-floor cushion-strewn terrace, a warm but stiff breeze blowing away the dust of the afternoon. Not a big believer in heaven, but this may be a foretaste.
After months of looking at brown, blacks, whites and greens in Pittsburg, the red rocks—orange in the setting sun—are almost obscene. What kind of universe is this where all the bright colors in the acrylic tube are squeezed out willy-nilly here while I’ve been living with the leftovers. Of course, I talked with a French woman a little while ago. She’s lived here a few years and the only other part of the country she’s seen is Minnesota in summer, finding the infinite green there so comforting after the excitement of Sedona.
Two tables away, a five-year-old girl and her mother play mancala, an Egyptian stone game, I think, likely going back three or five thousand years. I’m reminded of a day when my parents were alive, and my oldest two daughters were maybe four and two—Libby, the youngest, was still brewing, as I recall. Any Gramper and Grammy Bev and Daddy and Becca and Mary Berry picked apples at a Hopkinton orchard, and I bought honey for mead brewing as a celebration of Libby’s impending birth. I couldn’t shake the thought that day that Roman families of three generations and Polish families and Ukranian, Chinese, Kenyan, Peruvian families had likely gathered fruit in the fall just as we were doing. There were apples all the way down and all the way back.
The dhaba closed 15 minutes ago. The teashop keeper told me I could stay on his terrace as long as I like. The mother won the game of mancala, and they’ve just left. So will I, but not before saying:
What a delightful universe, where I can whine about Windows in Manchester in the morning and drink cardamom, anise and black tea on a terrace in Arizona at night.
Thank you, God—even if you don’t exist you’re holding up your end of things.