Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The promontory of the world


As I pulled out of the driveway to head for my hills this morning, a spatter of rain misted my windshield. A quick flick of the wiper blades pushed them aside, but I was thereby warned.

See, I've managed to find a canyon that escaped the recent firestorm; it's tucked deep into a cleft of the Verdugos, and its ascent is quite steep. As I pulled up at the end of the access road, the misting rain had settled a gauzy curtain - delicate at the edges, but thicker and whiter and quieter as I tromped onward up the slope.

The light, cold rain had driven every other living being from the hills, leaving me in a bubble of chest-high scrub and orange earth and the phantom tracings of bare trees shadowy against the solid bank of mist.

I reached the flat space at the top of the steep hill, and it nearly took my breath. The mist had come in so thickly that the cap of the hill was the only space I could see, and its edges - not five paces from me - were already nearly erased by the gauzy curtain that had fallen down around it. What sunlight pushed through the mists softened every curve and line in its path. The silence was deafening. I could feel my heartbeat ringing in my ears; could hear the subtleties of my breathing.

The silence deepened, and I felt a stirring in the air, and I had the unmistakable sense that the rest of the world around this promontory had dropped away. I felt as though I had been invited home to do reverance to my Celt ancestors; as though the blood of Niall in my veins had pulled me here to this place, to dip into the magic that is our shared birthright. I honored the moment as best I could, knowing the little I know of the old religion, but my words floated lightly on the surface of what was going on inside, like a light hand gently stirring a fire.

Then, as quickly as it had come, it passed.

I breathed for a moment, did a couple of (extremely) basic standing yoga poses to clear my head, and started off down the hill. The experience left me so stunned and foot-floaty that I hardly noticed when the rain started to pour down, soaking me to my bones.

(And oh, yes, there was petrichor. Musky and spiked with sage and eucalyptus and a hint of raw-sugar earth, filling my lungs and spilling out into my chest with memories of other rainy moments; other wet roads; other shrouded days.)

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