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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Best Day on Earth

The following is a creative summary I wrote for Rough Guides, inspired by their topic, "My Best Day on Earth"

My best day on Earth is happening right now. It feels smooth, rough, rotten, wind blown, in-my-face dirt, grit and grime. I'm hanging off a cliff on a rocky precipice of canyon side overlooking Fossil Creek in Southwestern Arizona, USA.

The air stings my smiling cheeks. It is nighttime and the full moonlight is shaded on this side of the mountainside. The shapes nearby me are mostly still, but occasionally quiver in the starlight, tricking my eyes, nearly igniting my fear of hungry wild cougars. I know this is an expansively rocky, cactus filled, red dirt terrain. By daylight the paths were dappled shade on a steep canyon face. There is a majestically clear stream below me. I have climbed so high, its lulling splish-splash sounds do not reach me.  The sight of the fresh water moving steadily in small rapids over the desert stones, fostering rich green vegetation in its current, is fresh in my mind. 

The Sun descended a small ways back, when I was still on the trail. Then, I encountered a pack of javelinas. They had surrounded a small cotton tail rabbit, its tiny white tail shone stark in the night as I watched it scamper away, taking advantage of the distraction I had momentarily created in the midst of the hunt. My black boots crunched on the sharp gravel as I slowed my fast pace and dodged off the path, just in time to hear the snarls and grunts rushing past me. Night birds are churrring in the sky above. I press my face into the cool, sharp boulder at my shoulder. It smells like red dust, as do I. 

So here I am. Keeping my senses sharp, alert for the silent stalk of a mountain cat. The best moment of my best days on Earth. Adventure seething through my blood. My heart pounding in my chest. The moon moving higher from behind the mountain, now a small orb climbing through the limitless sky.

 I crouch, tucked in the shadow of a saguaro cactus against a sandstone boulder, listening to the swish and swash of the pine branches in the night. A sensation of cold air sweeps under my hat brim, blowing into my left ear. I've turned my head slightly to the side, so I can still keep hold of the canyon face and also my hat on my head in the accelerating wind. The stars above me grow brighter, as I breath deeper and struggle to take it all in. A deep breath, then, I move on. 

Uncurling my long legs from beneath me, I step back onto the path. Many miles later, upon the top of this mountainside, I pry my chilly arms from my chest and crawl into a warm sleeping bag. Feeling completely at home in the wide, wild world and grateful to have returned to the familiar smell of my bedroll, I drift off to sleep in a soundless dream.