… at the bottom of the hill was a wooded ravine, arched with a thicket of trees. A forested incline dropped down from the hill, laced with coyotes who traveled in threes. I didn’t mind… I carried a bag of Cheetos at all times, a distraction that always appeased.
It’s really not that big of a hill, not that steep of a climb; it shouldn’t have taken more than an hour or two. But by the time I neared the old gnarled wreath on her door, angel’s wings glittered with early morning dew. Four hours in, my legs shredded by cape honeysuckle thorns deceptively hidden in the mist, I knew I was only about halfway there so I sat down on a rock to rest. My snacks were gone, snatched up by those three coyotes, three little racoons, two mad squirrels and some odd little creatures who wore paisley weed coats held closed by moonlit butterflies. Thank God the bag of Cheetos I’d bought was the family size. One thing I noticed as the animals shared their evening fare and local dogs joined in on a chorus of Silent Night… was that they were all slowly making their way up that hill too; their journey timed to arrive at the top at first morning’s light. So I got back up and followed their meandering lead.
Almost four hours again later, after making circles around a wormy tree stump and gathering moths and skunks into our clan… the way ahead cleared the last few yards up, barely lit by the best dreams of man. And there in the small succulent-studded patch of golden rocks that was her back yard… that unearthly, straight shooting Aggie Day waited for them with gifts of ear muffs and stories and warm caramel scones on napkins of mossy jacquard.
I hung back, behind an old Palo Verde tree, watching the magic of it all, watching even the coyotes demur. It was twenty one years since I’d seen her last, yet exactly how I remembered her.
Joy to the World.