Across maybe a mile of hard-packed dirt textured with scattered bursts of scrubby desert brush is a small hill of smooth sandstone, like a boulder dropped and embedded in the arid terrain. Just beyond that, about twice as tall, is a jagged scramble of broken stone thrust by hidden underground cataclysms up through the surface like a blade. I can't see what lies just behind that for half a mile, maybe more, but real mountains stand, one after the other, before the horizon. Mountains in the distance are tricky, so it's difficult to judge how far away they are. The last of the horizontal morning light illuminates the peaks so that, unlike all the oranges, and pinks of the terracotta landscape, they shine a brilliant yellowish gold. There is snow on the heights, possibly the only water for miles. I know what is behind me, nothing good. The way is daunting, but it lies over those mountains, through the arduous cold and elevation. Life is a long shot, but I feel somehow anxious to meet fate, whether close at hand or years away.
For longer than I can describe I've stood here with my sisters watching the slow undulation of this terrain, my life's vista all around. Deep down my roots feel the unrest of the planet's crust vibrating and jostling, never content to just relax and be. Up at my peaks the wind and snow are cold, though the morning sunlight breaking over the horizon brings another day's fleeting warmth. Off in the distance, beyond the rough ridge of crumbing sandstone, a man is staring at me, a man I've never seen before. I think he's coming this way. I wish I could speak his fast, chattering language and welcome him. I wish I could ease his treacherous path, warn him, guide him. I hope his passage is better than so many before. Let fate meet him somewhere else, many years from now, far from my ancient eyes.
I can see the mountain and the man as I descend through the light of the morning sun. She looks familiar, this mountain. I've gotten here a bit early, so I float there above for a while and watch his oblivious progress. There is no hurry. The man still has quite a trek ahead of him before he reaches that rocky place – I can see it now – fifty feet below the snowy ledge. I wonder if this is what they call sad. I can never really tell. I think it might depend upon where these women and men come from before I meet them, but it is not given to me to know that. I only know where to meet them and when, late this evening at that rocky place.
Hello, friends. I hope you're well.