a place without time

a place without time

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a place without time

From the mountains, you can see it coming. Time sits on the horizon like rain clouds, holding out. In the cities you carry it around in your pocket. Time is organized around where you have to be. You dash blindly around busy corners, always racing against it. But in the mountains, the world sits on the horizon, refusing to move. Before I ever went to the city, I used to know what that meant. Now I found myself trying to remember, waking up every morning to look at the mountains and see what they held. If there were clouds there, you knew there might be rain. But I knew there was something to wait for. I could watch time coming.

I returned home because I was still longing for the clouds to roll over the skyline and the water to flow from the hills. It was if time was losing her memory, as the city had made me lose mine. My father used to say, when he would look down at his feet, "they look the same, but the ground is different." I don't know if he was forgetting things too, or remembering them all so well. My father carried it too, in his pocket, so he wouldn't forget. When people asked about it, he would bring it out and laugh. My sister and I needed our father to hold together our memories, to hold together the world before we were born. The world before our time.

Where I lived, there were smashed bugs on the windshield, skittish coyotes, and, of course, trout. My dad remembered the river where he taught me about the sands of time, and how to fish. He said that in the days before me there had been fish the size of small children willing to take what ever gift God, or my dad, had to offer. So when I came home, I brought my dad to that stream, looking for a cure. Anyone who lives long enough begins to be infected by a search for time. You look for it everywhere because it is life. After a while, you can feel it in the ground beneath your feet, in the creeks in the back canyons, in the clouds over the hills that may never come back.

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Once a white owl would made a wild dash past me like a lost bolt of lightning. And I knew the white owl was going to show me the way home. White owls aren't supposed to exist out there, you see. The Indian children write about them, but only as a myth. When I left for college, this one bird was implanted in my mind, making me late for class, making me remember time.

I came home, more for myself than for the mountains. I came home to learn the names of things, to remember places I had forgot, to look for the clouds, to wait for the rain. I knew that if I waited, it would come, trickling over my head at night, dripping from my brow, and begging me to follow. The fingers of time and owls of night would wrap themselves around me. Time is the religion of the mountains. It insinuates itself into the cracks of consciousness and allows the mind to move.

I wanted to search for the water again. My dad and I returned to the stream, and walked along it’s banks to the place I remember most, to the rock I caught my first fish, to a place without time. To us it was an alter of timelessness. I took my father's hand, and led him in. The water was cool as ice in the night and the shock of life was waiting for us there. Watching the clouds over the horizon, we knew the rain was coming. I led him down to the source, like his first baptism. He smiled, white as an owl, and drank.
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