The time Conn spent healing wasn’t lost time. It was needed time and found time. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave and my father, hoping for another man to help with the farm, used Conn’s healing days for slow walks together. My mother, too, seemed more cheerful than ever she had since we first set sail for Soto Valley. She and I would sit out in the front yard watching Conn and my father walking the road down to Wide Creek. I could see my father waving and pointing just beyond where they stood, and I could sense Conn’s deep respect for what had been planned and built and made into fields and homes and barns.
All of this I saw through moments of greens and browns and fields of wild blue-eyed grasses and purple Butterwort that ended, most always, with Conn’s now often smiling face and the gentle way he’d touch my father’s shoulder as they spoke.
Suppers were spent discussing the next planting season. Listening to my mother. Up and down. Looking in her storage bins of beans and grains. Not listening to me wanting beets except to wonder why and me saying I needed red coloring for my card painting. I was seldom taken seriously during planting discussions and was always promised, by my mother, that she would help me make the paints I needed right from our small house garden. And the wild Hawthorne and blueberries. It was important that I had my plant pastes for the picture cards I was learning from a recent islander to settle in the valley. The ways she described nature and life and outcomes…I so wanted to paint those sorts of cards.
One late afternoon you sat beside me outside…
I was drawing under a poplar tree. It’s green leaves were made almost transparent by the setting sun and the world seemed bathed in the finest of reds and golds. In your silence, I did not hear you approach.
“Quite lovely,” you said quietly.
My papers were spread all out on the table. Drawings of unknown rhyme or reason. Rough suns and butterflies and fire circles. Silver moons and golden stars. Fields of grain. Circles uniting.
I leaned back against my chair. Adding to the blush I felt, some sort of sweet rosy glow was framing your face.
“Which one?” I asked?
You pointed to the egret I was working on just then. “They are beautiful resting in the trees around here,” you said.
“Yes!” I shook my head in agreement. “Sleeping on some bare tree. Making snow branches against a red sky.”
“But they are so small.” You held a drawing up to examine.
“Yes. Cards. Tarot cards. Story book pages.” I pointed out the card showing the rock being overtaken by the swift current of a creek.
“And what does one do with these?” you asked. There was a slight tone of exasperation in your voice. That same tone my father used with mother when discussing the stars and the sun and the ways the moon spoke.
“Why…” I shook my head side to side. “One thinks upon them and wonders and lays them down to create a story.”
And then…I’m not sure…We both looked up from the cards. Our faces so close together and intense. I moved my head side to side again just to see you so close and to feel your breath so warm against my face. I’m not sure. I may have, during some moment I could not possibly ever have imagined, leaned over and kissed you.
“And then, she put again upon me a spell. And I kissed her and was bound to her even more and forever.” Years later, that’s how you told it.