I try to find a new way to wander across the rolling hills of scrub and pine and stretches of grass each time the dogs and I go walking
So every day, I get to see familiar things in a different sort of way.
Sometimes this leads to new treasures like old, sun-bleached bones for my growing bone collection,
a newly dug den with earth so freshly excavated it’s still moist and brown;
an ancient juniper at the top of a ridge, rounded like a giant, perfect mushroom cap, where generations of cattle resting and rubbing in its shade, helped make its flat-bottomed, fairytale shape.
But mostly, it’s not knowing where the dogs and I are going,
to explore this small patch of hilly land near home
where Mingus Mountain rises behind Chino Valley to the east, Table Top Mesa and Granite Mountain command the views to the south,
and scattered homes along long, dirt roads in the near distance remind us we’re never alone.
As does the jackrabbit springing from shrub to shrub, with its skyscraper ears that quickly disappear,
and a flock of quails lifting noisily from an impenetrable cluster of Apache Plume, in near perpetual bloom, at the side of the wash.
Which, like my path, is always changing.
Exposing tunnels dug below the surface
(that look like sunken eyes, sunk deep in deep, dark sockets);
and hardened roots of Pinyon pines clutching eroding walls,
refusing to fall,
to succumb to the changes.
Green clinging on so few branches.
and feeding the creatures who live in the washes and brushes and hollowed out trees;
in the boulders and burrows and fields, where me and the dogs keep wandering, because every day it keeps changing.
Each orbital click.
While the dogs keep on sniffing and sniffing and sniffing, and finding their own unique way, which these days is through a grassy stretch of fleeting monsoon green that tickles my knees and their noses.
Past Prickly Pears with their thorny pads, crowned with green, pink and purple fruit, growing darker and bigger and bolder and sweeter.
Across the grass where the air is fair and the land is electric with tiny, winged voices that buzz here and there.
Humming strange, chatty words in my ear.
While modest patches of yellow, white, orange and purple wildflowers barely boast that they’re there.
But they are.
And so are we.