And So This Is Christmas, In May
In four days, it will be a year ago that I walked into Thermopolis Wyoming. The longest stay of my walk across America was spent in Thermop as the temperature rang up to 110 degrees and all the grass turned into sand. Two months after the walk was completed finds me again in Wyoming, except now I carry a small backpack, and although the calender nudges me to return to my writing in Minnesota, there's no urgency to walk into the Rocky Mountains again as another winter approaches...( it hasn't stopped snowing here yet from last winter). I've made my way back to Wyoming to return an unfired .44 mag that I unsheathed twice to hold ground against a couple of grizzly's that proved to have no threatening interest in me. I also returned to Wyoming to touch base with the family's that opened their lives, hearts and homes to me. It was in Thermopolis that I lived with the pastor's Ron and Debra Higgins, stripped and shingled their roof, and bonded with the Higgins family and the surrounding town of Thermopolis
It was young Jessica and Ian Higgins that came up with the idea of throwing a big party to celebrate the holidays I spent alone on the walk, and that idea was all Debra needed to deck the halls. Last night in Thermopolis Wyoming, friends came out of 'Dinosaur Town' to join in a feast of pork tender loin in peach apricot glaze, shoot me with streamer popping firecrackers, tell of new paths and roads that have been penciled into their tomorrows, and open their presents wrapped up in bows.
As I look around a jubilant table of friends, I can not help but shine bright. Jessica Monday catches me starring at her after she closes her eyes to a flavor across the table from me. She gives me an expression that is an embrace, hearts bound in likeness and a promise of words that in time will be the new movement under our feet. Lisa and her mother Mid are dressed up in red and green, and smiling through red glasses of punch. Ron and Debra Higgins are making a toast that bookends all the emotions, the reasons that we pool around this island table of Thermopolite friends, and how lives have sewn been together by a man walking through their lives. Ian sits beside me and grins up at me like it really is Christmas and he is glad for the eating of it, the unwrapping, all is collected, at peace and good. Everyone is buoyant on the great smell of pumpkin pie, pork happily tender and sweet to the fork, almonds flickering in a sea of green beans, steaming wheat rolls, and real mashed potatoes speckled with the color of the earth. It is a meal of flavors and faces I have missed for so long. It is the gold ring I found in the snow on the last pass over the Continental Divide. I am again in the hot air balloons over the Rocky Mountains flying on a childhood promise.
This is not the brown Thermopolis I walked through, or the scrub grass of a blistered road to Cody. Every thing is mint, sage, forest green, and the delicate pale leaf hue of life just stepping out into the sun after a long winter white.