by V.J. Knutson
We’ve come to the bluffs in hopes of seeing the wild horses. The day is crystal blue without a cloud in the sky. My heart is heavy.
It’s been nearly a week since I’ve heard from my friend Nadine, and I fear what that means. Dini has been fighting an aggressive form of cancer for nearly a year now. It’s our habit to connect everyday, either by text or Facebook. The last message I received said she was “Going to sleep.”
There is little I can do so far from home.
Coon’s Bluff is a strip of land with mountains on one side and a drop overlooking the Salt River on the other. Spotting the horses at the top of the mountain, I head that way, while Ric is drawn to the water.
The horses are magnificent and it feels like such a privilege to be here surrounded by the reds of the mountain, the green of the mesquite with their almost black trunks, the greys and caramel of the rocks cascading down to the blue-green river. From every direction I hear birdsong and I ready my camera, but the motivation is lacking. Today, I am more interested in just communing with nature.
How Dini would love this place.
I push my walker across the uneven ground towards Ric, who signals me to stop and turn. A mare and foal are paces behind, so I move behind a bush to let them pass. They pause a moment, emanating such gentleness, and then head down the steep slope to the water.
A parade of horses follows, among them another mare and foal, and an old grey, and then a stallion that neighs and stomps in agitation. I take the cue and move further off the path. He picks up pace and passes.
We watch in awe as the group crosses the river and disappears into the far woods, and then startle to the sound of rapid hoof beats and a streak of chestnut flashing by.
Two eagles soar into view.
“It’s so beautiful!” I find myself repeating.
Ric finds a place to sit and I move further along the bluffs to where a tree hangs out over the drop. Two little birds chase each other over the water and back, and a small head bobs in under the rock crevices. A Rock squirrel watches from its hiding place and I can’t help but line up the shots.
I just want to stay in this moment forever.
“My wife was bedridden for over two years,” I hear Ric saying, and reflect on how far I have come, not just in miles, but also in healing. My disease, while debilitating at times, doesn’t carry the same threat as cancer. I have been the lucky one.
The horses are back at the water’s edge and watching them I feel as a deep sense of calm and peace.
Life is mystery. It is beauty and sorrow and unapologetic. It just is.
(Nadine died this day. I will remember her with the wild horses.)
V.J.Knutson is a former educator, avid blogger, and grandmother. She and her husband are currently travelling cross-country in a 40 foot motor home. Originally from Ontario, Canada, V.J. hopes this journey will provide healing for her ME/CFS, or at the very least, inspire further creativity. Find her online at https://onewomansquest.org/.