I thought I knew what that word, that greeting, meant. Ever since that novel-writing morning when Amelan lifted it from grandfather Emilio's map of the Corridor, I accepted it like so many other gifts from my characters: grudgingly. But now after my first week of 'refirement', I wonder if rah-dur was intended less for Amelan and the readers of my future novel and more for me and my new life.
Everything AND nothing went according to plan. As planned I woke Monday on the Land, lying in the hayloft next to Savanna the Wonder Dog's warm black body. But sleep had eluded me (perhaps due to a dog on my feet) and weather.com had gotten it all wrong. The bright rim of day rising over the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, reneged its sunny promise behind the gray curtain rushing in the northwest.
Thank goodness for the stacks of oak waiting for me to split. Wrapped in at least seven layers, I left the shed and crunched south across the prairie, bright green stubs daring to rise again from the black ash left from the April 12 burn. The west wind, propelled by some artic memory of March, scratched the right side of my face like shards of cold glass.
And then, halfway through splitting my first stack, there it was. I squinted to be sure. Yes! Flakes. Sideways spitting snow. Just a few. Yet I felt lied to, betrayed, by May.
But not Savanna! There she lay, in the shade (or whatever you call the slighter grayer grass beneath an oak). Plopping down on the moist grass, my leather gloved hand soon found itself rubbing a warm black belly. And the smile! That smile that only a black farm dog can shine. The pulsing essense of love. No expectations. No conditions. No restraint. Just her...and me...and the oak above...and the grass beneath...and the wind fluffing her fur. The connection. The great connection.
As we meandered back to the shed, splitting maul over my shoulder, Savanna sniffing fire-exposed fox dens, the wind did find the left side of my face. But I didn't feel cold anymore. Or perhaps I was, but I don't recall it, or even minding. I do remember feeling grateful. To the creation. For allowing, asking me to engage my new life, the creation, the creating. Tin foil camp fire hobos---featuring fresh dug wild parsnips and fresh cut stinging nettles---never tasted so good, nor so enfused my body with the body of The Land.
Now, at the end of week one of refirement, I've devoted perhaps 1 minute 10 seconds total thinking about my old job. Instead their loving faces---those who I worked with for so many years---floated through my heart like June afternoons, reminding me to maintain what matters. As for leaving the old home, Linda and I triumphantly finished painting the livng room last night, the first room that will soon greet our home's yet-to-be discovered new owners. The creating.
I'm a lucky man.