In which your brother reminds you that you’re really just a kid at heart…
You exit the car and walk into the woods. Rock walls of the finest aesthetic sense assault you with their fortressness: keep out or keep in. You are not sure which. The river glides past oblivious to the great task at hand and it is like you are in one of the calmer moments of Frodo’s journey: a hero’s journey, obviously. You walk along, heroic in your way, observing what is around.
The rocks change in a dramatic movie set from iron-colored and yellow to porous, gray basalt, smattered with crustose lichens: yellow, orange, red, pink, white. You find these on every hard surface everywhere, and remember this two-faceted organism, fungi and algae, was partially responsible for making the dirt you walk on…the very foundation upon which civilization rests…along with bug poop, and star dust from well past the ozone.
Cyanobacteria eating away at that lava rock as the mighty battle rages, till dust be damned, it’s in your ears, your nose, in the little cracks within walls, the surfaces untouched by agency other than wind. Dust…
You forgot that you could laugh like this…as abundantly as the rapids push oxygen into the river… and everything becomes the Precious.
When Sir Smiegol is in a good way he is urging you, walk this way, come this way, and his voice is very encouraging. There is no thing of fear to be found, no not one thing. The brother-Gollum shows no sign of fear, not even on the north side of the river where the snow hasn’t exactly melted on these warmish spring days or the dogs and owners rushing past on the hunt for another precious: exercise.
If anyone really saw you two like this, at the adult ages of thirty-something, they might suspect drug abuse. Not the case, just the imaginative power of J.R. Tolkein and Peter Jackson influencing the talent for voices that Bret has. And you are willing to go along…you are not too far from fantasy fiction, and the sort of colorful abandon wild places bring out in you: a wonderous carelessness you abandoned the other day for the imagined quality of seriousness.
You weave through the Ponderosas and Juniper, Horsetail and Rabbitbrush. The river rollicks around you, loudly some, softly some, and you vow to find an answer to the question: are there beaver or river otter this close to civilization. You and the Gollum surmised such in this riparian zone, but…it might be imaginations running wild as childrens’ might, as creatures of play will allow on a Saturday afternoon under the sun of fun.