Thursday, July 29, 2010

Welcome to Owyhee County, Idaho

Welcome to Owyhee County, Idaho


Yesterday, I ran a familiar route.  As I pushed up the hill on Bellevue Road, I noticed a crab apple tree with little red crab apples on the branches.  I reflected that I had seen this tree in its full cycle:  fall foliage, barren branches, full pinkish-white blooms.  The tree, now fruited, waits full ripening.

I grew up with crab apple trees in our yard.  My grandfather also planted a crab apple tree outside his bedroom window.  He told me the blooms made him happy.  Later, he complained about the over-ripe fruit on the lawn being messy.  

I have a six or seven inch scar on my back from a crab apple tree tin can.  I was around the age of five.  My dad and mom planted some trees in our yard, and they also had a pile of flagstone rocks piled ready to piece together for a patio.  My brother and I liked to climb the rocks and play explorer, and as I started to plant my imaginary flag, the flagstone flipped.  As the flat rock tipped, I fell back on a discarded can ripped open when my mom and dad planted the crab tree it contained.

Those flat stones were the same ones our family packed home from trips to the Owyhees.  The Owyhee Mountains, a backdrop to Canyon and Ada Counties in southern Idaho, bordering Oregon and Nevada, my grandfather, grandmother, mom and dad drove into the mountains on Sundays, and we all collected the flat puzzle like rocks covered with orange and green lichen.

My dad & mom made a patio with them, and my grandfather built his house with them.  He fixed them around the front of the house.  I remember how my grandfather, Lanus, mixed the mortar to a deep burgundy color.  He felt the color best brought out the hues in the stone.  He also created a fireplace inside.  This fireplace of Owyhee County rocks served two rooms, the living room and the dining room.  He made bench seats with the flat stones on both sides of this see-through fireplace.  My brother and I would play a game of spy, as we scaled the rock wall like James Bond.

As I ran in the vapid, humid weather, I wondered how long it took for my grandfather to collect all of those rocks.  I wondered if some environmental organization would now protest his rock hounding.  I ran by another crab apple tree and I thought about the bias cut scar thick and wide across the right side of my back.  I thought about how I never really think about the healed wound until I have sex with a new partner, and I have to explain away the reactions, the questions, the palpations and worry that some awful tragedy beset me.

There was no one to blame, accidents happen.  I could not hold the crab apple tree accountable.  Long ago befriending them, I used to eat the little sour apples to show my courage and bravado to my cousins and brother.  Now, I just look at the trees with admiration of the total cycle, flower to fruit and everything in between.