Cold Canyon


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It was the end of a long day and I was a long way from home. I didn’t feel like braving rush hour traffic so I went to my sister’s house and we went for a walk instead.

We drove to a canyon trail where she liked to walk. The day was clear and cool and from the balcony of the trail we could look down into the valley which was lit by the low luminous light of the fading sun.

The trail climbed steeply and we were both breathless as we spoke: too winded to carry a conversation but too eager to visit to let the conversation lapse. We took turns filling the gaps as the other caught her breath.

At the crest of the hill the wind fluttered the leaves of a tree overhead. There was a susurration of falling water and the flicker of the last golden light of the sun. The twilight was shadowless and civil and the barest fingernail of a moon dangled in the sky to the west, glowing with earth-light.

“Did it just get much colder?”

“Yes- I was just noticing that.

As we descended into the valley on the far side of the hill the air was suddenly cold; much colder than it had been anywhere else on the trail. This seemed abrupt but not abnormal.

The trail ended in the cul-de-sac of a wealthy neighborhood. We called it Camelot and we began to follow the street back down to where we had parked the car.

“Who.”

“Did you hear that?”

We listened.

“Who? Who-hoo-ho-hoo?”

“Was that an owl?”

I Who-whoed back and the owl responded:

“Who-hoo Who-ho-ho-hoo?”

I repeated this. The owl did not like my response and made no further reply.

We proceeded down the hill. A dog began to bark. Another began to howl. A chorus of dogs bayed in the deepening darkness behind us. We wondered at the sound.

Beyond Camelot the houses grew smaller. The air grew warmer. The sound of owls and dogs faded into silence broken only by our voices as we spoke. We spoke of winter and of home and of family members who were far away.

It was dark by the time we reached the car and we drove home to homes and dinners and were glad for the warmth.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 11, 2013.

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