Summer Hiking (a memory)

Counting minutes is like savoring time. Allowing each a weight, a texture. I rarely slow down long enough to watch a heron's leggy progress through tall grass and shallow water, or an ant's mad dash over hot stones, seemingly running head-first into one obstacle or another. (The ant and I both.)

Stop the car. After the radio goes silent there is the echo of a shotgun, reverberating in the canyon. The shell casings, bright blue and red, remind you of a childhood in the mountains where they were treasures collected. You were too young to know they smelled of violence and power.

No Hunting signs are riddled with holes, the yellow paint giving way to the dull silver of the metal underneath, then empty space.

You hear cicadas. Or maybe bees. As you get further away from the burble of the forest stream there’s clicking and rhythmic mechanical snapping. Electricity. Huge towers around the next bend in the old logging road. Thick as your thigh or the dog's torso. Turn and head back to the car, drowning the sound of power lines under water running over stone.

The afternoon smells of Scotch broom and dust and heat. Late summer sunlight bakes the fir trees. Remember the pleasure of driving just a little too fast on deserted country roads.