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Valley Oaks and fog at sunrise, Ahwahnee, California 2010

Through spare woods with bowed oak limbs heavy with old man’s beard, and the diffused ray of an afternoon sunbeam shooting from nowhere, he walked his usual path, no trail marked the ground.  Past the cushioned damp deadfall where mushrooms often bloomed after the rain. Past the rock outcropping that big as a bus cut in half, marbled with nearly every hue of the natural world and having a location that could only conceivably have come from falling out of the sky and arranged in rugged upshot forms, thick, girthy towers cut from the minds of genius, tormented architects.  Around the corner was another spread, another grove freckled with granite, softened by the tan dewy grasses matted from the past days’ wind and the hooves of migrant wild animals criss-crossing, who’s following who?  Nevermind.

This tableau hamlet has been in his journey for years, in his family for longer and part of the foundation of the earth before time.  To see it today is only that, myriad realizations through the interplay of light and atmosphere, every day a new place, fresh for the mind.  To breath in one moment and exhale the act of ownership.

Sitting at a picnic table under a Valley Oak surrounded by gnarled limbs and above, a cloudless night sky, she drank the last gulp of water out of her mason jar.  The two-piece screw-on brass lid layed disjointed on the top of the hewn table, and her eyes were fixed on the man straddling the seat next to her, staring back, albeit with mischief emanating from behind.  He asked her why she loved that mason jar so, what was it that brought such great joy from something so utilitarian?

She explained that the utter simplicity was the touch of genius in the object, that sometimes we find what we’re looking for when we don’t mean to and that is a part of life to be cherished.  They talked about the world being overburdened with excess and over-stimulation and shared solace in their mutual respect for the outdoors and the values nature imparts on us, values that don’t have sets of orders, that same touch of grace she mentioned earlier.

It was hot so they brushed their hair away from their faces and wiggled in their seats a little, that’s what they told each other.  Their hands lit up the air as they spoke and fell by a bare thigh, earlier brushing past a face leaving a trailing breeze for a brief second.  When they finished kissing she looked over at the table to grab her mason jar for the last sip of water and although there was no water a firefly was silently floating inside.  She gently picked up the lid and screwed it on the top of the jar, just for a second she said.  The firefly ignited it’s bottom almost on cue as the lid was sealed and equally on cue, her smile grew with the insect’s momentary flash.  “It’s so perfect” she whispered, “two incredible simple things coming together.”  And he moved his hands and placed them on her thighs, this time firmly, and behind his eyes was a confident understanding, like a sculpture realized from raw stone.

fireflies