Atop the canyon’s shoulders, the path bare, hot and steep, I can see the river far down below. She must drink from her toes, I think.
And way up here, it is dry and rolling and veiled in burnt-orange dirt. The echoes of the once colorful balsam-root and yarrow have long gone,
leaving behind nothing but the stacks of basalt and gnarled sagebrush. And it is here that I discover the quiet joy of mystery.
Here along this path, my boot peels back the dirt like a dusty old wrapper. And beneath burnt-orange, I caught a glimpse of cool green. Sharp. Smooth. Angular green.
I kneel to the ground, as if deep in a prayer, and dust away the trail with my bare hands. A small piece of jade breaks loose in my fingers. The more dirt I wipe, the more precious stone I unearth. How much is hiding in the pockets of this hill?
But crouched over with humbleness just off to my side, the grey and weathered sagebrush flicked his parched leaves in dissatisfaction. He is wise, this I know. For who can endure the exposed flank of a desert canyon, and not be resilient and keen?
And I know what to do. My hands push the burnt-orange soil back over the jade. And pat ever so gently, so gently that just the step of a boot could peel back the dirt like a dusty old wrapper.
I wonder to this day, who stumbled upon the jade. And I wonder if it was the size of a quarry. But mostly I wonder, who has left jade for me along my way?