“Why do you think they ever wrote a song called buttermilk sky? “. I asked Ron as we ambled slowly, picking and peeking our way over and around stone steps across and back the serpentine stream that ribboned the arroyo.
I was trying to reconcile in my mind the color and texture of buttermilk that I had bought a time or two at a grocery, which poured pale yellow and thick from the cardboard carton. It was tart but in a smooth pleasant way. What had that to do with a lovers sky?
“Haven’t you ever churned milk?” he asked.
“No, never” I said.
“Well,”he said, “when I churned cream to make butter for my Aunt Bulah, what was left floating at the top was buttermilk, which was a very pale blue.”
We zigzagged along again silently, sometimes parting, sometimes coming close, sometimes sharing a stone that sparkles or other times admiring a thing just in our secret selves.
“ahhh,”I said. “That has been bothering me for about forty years!”. I sang bits:
“Old buttermilk sky, I’m keeping my eyes peeled on you….are you gonna be mellow tonight? Old buttermilk sky….”. I sang to the clouds and the wind.
These are the important kinds of things I have been learning in my free time.
“lets lay down in the sand and pretend we are dead”. I suggested, stopping to scrutinize the dark sillouhettes of the five large vultures as they turned their ugly red heads, gazes following our path in the sand from the lofty saguaros on the brim of a cannyon. “I betcha they will come down and check us out.”
“Moxy, DOWN”. I said. She complied. I laid down on my back. R shrugged in amusement or disbelief, he was already too far ahead to tell which shrug it was this time. We waited. A very long five minutes or so. The vultures were not impressed with our rendition of death by lying down, even when I opened my mouth and let my tongue hang out, clearly dehydrated and tasty. They remained stoically on their stickery balcony. They never said a word. They never do, though.
THE SEA LEGS
Today was the second morning running being the only one on small craft out on the deep blue, somewhat windy, slightly thrilling hills of warming water that was the incoming tide of Loreto Bay. It was the second morning I paddled hard around rocky Nopolo point on my beat up blue paddleboard, standing up instead of kneeling to make it to the calm, crane and fish filled estuary on the other side. I was solo, too splashy for my dog, my customary companion.
I decided to return standing as well, since I made it all the way around that way. Yesterday I kneeled paddling, it was so lumpy and challenging.
The swells were not breaking and they were certainly less than two feet high, but they were coming from all angles, and the wind blew hard against me. I rolled the straw hat around the sunglasses and slid them through the handle. Chances were pretty good that I would be falling in. I left my orange shirt on, though, betting against myself. It was a bit cool.I looked into the distant shore and paddled hard just to make a few feet of progress. There was effort but something had changed. The rollers were slipping under my board, raising and lowering the front, then the back, then with the left turns to my heading, they lifted one side and then the other. But it was as if I was paddling on much calmer seas. My relaxed legs, hips and back miraculously seemed to know just what to do! There was no lurching stomache, no swaying too far one way and then the other. All I had to do was paddle. It seemed no longer any of my business to think about what was going on down below. No need to hit the waves just right, no need to even look at them at all. I was elated. It felt like a gift, like no learning had been involved, though certainly there must have been, while I wasnt paying attention.
For the first time in a very long time I just LOVED my great big pale calves and blue ballpoint mapped thighs and mismatched scarred up knees and size nine and a half feet. Absolutely loved them. We were surfing! My funny new legs and I.