Normally, Ivan entertains with a full-dress horse routine at the end of January’s writing workshop. Today, he and I are walking up our hill. As we climb, trailed by Sofi (mongrel dog beloved of visitors), his sharp 12-year-old eyes soon spy lizards darting between the rocks, clumps of huilli lilies among the deadwood under the greening bushes, and tiny wrens guarding nests in the espino. As he picks the easiest way along barely discernable rabbit paths, he points out tiny flowers and button mushrooms.
Above, where I make out circling hawks, he spots a pair
of eagles, identifiable he assures me, by their soaring glide and white undersides.
Further up, even I can’t miss the bleached ribs and skulls of long dead cattle
scattered on the rocky slope. To catch my breath, I stare down the gully where
after wet winters a cascade runs, and I tell him I once paddled there with his
about the air is alive with the rustling and twittering of spring life and when
we finally sit on an east-facing rock on the hill’s broad shoulder, the snow-dusted
slopes of the Andes shimmer in the distance. On
our way down, I wonder aloud about the absence of shrieking lapwings. And Ivan says
they’ve retreated to the lower fields, where the earth is soft after the rains,
and worms abound. He says there’s a flock of ducks there too. I’d noticed the glaze
of the flooded fields, but not the ducks.
us in January, in full summer. The green on the hills will have faded, but the
garden will be full of roses and morning glory, the patio will be shady and the
pool cool. Books and poems wait everywhere and Ivan will be around to identify local
flora and fauna, dance the Cueca and demonstrate horsemanship.