I pulled the old Yamaha behind the tree and turned off the motor, immediately missing the thrum and vibration under my legs. Dropping the kick stand I allowed the cycle to lean over as I slid my leg across the tank and dismounted. Slapping my helmet down on the point of the sissy-bar backrest and stretching I took a deep breath of the early-morning mountain air. I unbuttoned my denim jacket and allowed it to hang open, I wore no shirt and the cool air felt good on my bare skin. Dropping the key in my pocket I began my walk.
It had rained yesterday and most of the night and as I trod the narrow path the clean morning air was laced with the smell of wet pine and moist soil, it refreshed and invigorated me. Trees and bushes quickly closed in, cutting off the world around me as I began hearing the voices of sparrows and jays in the surrounding wood as a bend in the path brought me in sight of a dense raspberry bush. This late in the summer the fruit was fully ripened and is one of the reasons I always make this fifty-five mile trip. The clean air, the smells, sights and sounds of the mountain along with the small slice of solitude are the others, allowing me to relax from the daily hustle and never ending cacophony of city life.
Stopping by the bush I removed a linen pouch from my jacket pocket and began filling it with ripened berries. Resisting the temptation to taste the fruit as I did so, knowing from experience that should I do so none of the fruit would be going home with me. In my minds eye I was already tasting them mixed in a fresh dinner salad and over pancakes or on cereal in the morning. A hawk screamed out over the valley I knew was ahead and at its call I stopped my gathering, choosing to leave some for others to enjoy. Tucking the drawstrings of the pouch through my belt, I allowed the bag to hang at my hip as I continued my walk.
A few further twists in the path and my favorite part of this walk came into view. The trail let out atop a wide bluff here, a long grassy field stretching southward for almost half a mile. This narrow glade is bordered on the left by dense obscuring woods and on the right by a steep almost cliff-like slope into a valley below. Stepping near the edge I simply stood for a long moment as I looked out over the expanse of the valley below. Half a mile distant the far slope of this blind valley is a mass of oaks, elms, walnuts, a willow or two and a sprinkling of evergreens. A rolling wall of green with shadows of browns and grays and blacks interspersed here and there with clusters of wildflowers and the scar of the winding road by which I'd arrived. The valley wore its summer carpet, wide expanses of waving grasses with clumps of brightness where dozens of varieties of wildflowers grow. A gentle brook emerged from the hillside at the blind end of the valley, cut down through its center and left through its open end. There I knew it joined a stream, which in turn emptied into a river where the narrow mountain road meets the access road for Interstate Five.
I turned to walk through the upper meadow, finally, enjoying the air, the view, the walk. A Squirrel rose up before me and ran off towards the wooded area to my left. Sparrows and Jays creating a fuss near the far end of the glade announced the arrival of the other person as they stepped from the dark mass of trees at the southern end of the glade. There I know another path will return me to the road and my motorcycle. The person paused, looking out over the valley, as I had, before beginning to walk up the gentle slope of the glade, just as I was now walking down it. I assumed it is a girl or woman, as I'd seen long tresses billow for a moment in a light breeze blowing from the valley below. At the distance separating us it was hard to tell though, especially when the sun had yet to crest the trees to the east and the area was dim with shadows.
I kept looking out over the valley as I walked and saw a Hawk dive on a rabbit and miss. The rabbit disappeared quickly down a hole before Mr. Hawk could rise high enough for a second attempt. It was this walk, this view of the valley and this peacefulness of surroundings which drew me back four times each year. Once each season I make the drive to this place and make this walk, marveling always at the differences which came with the changing of the seasons.
It is Mid-Summer alive in rich forest greens, waving grasses and the colors of summer flowers. I always time my summer arrival so the blackberries are in bloom. Preferring a day such as this, after a night's rain, when the smells of pine and earth will be most noticeable.
She was closer now, and was most definitely a she. Long dark, wavy hair hung almost to her hips and was being blown gently to one side as she walked, the vagaries of the gentle winds would first raise her hair like dark pennants, away from the valley below, then release it to cascade around and about her arm as it swung while she walked. I could not yet make out her features, though she was wearing some type of white blouse gathered and tied below her breasts as a bare expanse of skin marked her stomach and upper chest. Long bare legs rose from the grasses of the glade and disappeared into either shorts or a very short skirt. She had something in her right hand as she walked on.
October will see my next visit, the trees across the valley will become a bright mural of golds, oranges and reds with only a few splashes of green intermingled. I will stop on the far side of the valley during that visit and gather walnuts for cookies, pies and ice salads.
It was definitely a skirt she wore. A blue denim mini which ride low on her hips and high on her thighs. Her plain white blouse opened down the front, pulled up and tied beneath breasts which it seemed strained to hold. In her right hand she holds a pair of white sandals, and so must be barefoot in the long grasses of the glade as her long slim legs scissored with her approach, her hips swaying side to side making the short skirt appear to flounce as she walked. Her hips narrowed to a trim waist before flaring out into those breasts straining against the blouse for release. The impression was there of a high arching brow and firm chin atop a graceful neck, but the distance was yet too great for final details.
Winters in the glade are magic. Broad carpets of snow will blanket the entire scene with the far hill becoming an almost skeletal mass of stark whites and blacks of the trees snow laced branches against a winter grey sky. The brook down valley center will be crystalline with areas and clumps of ice seeming to grow along its banks as it sheets any protruding stones or branches with delicate coatings of purest crystal. Individual drops of moisture combining on larger branches to form jagged teeth like bunches of icicle forests over the flowing water. At the right time of day, it is like looking into a narrow road made of diamonds glistening and sparkling in the bright sunshine as it cut its way through the valley below.
The long sleeves of her blouse were buttoned at the cuffs, covering slender arms which swung gently as she walked. Her brows were as high and gracefully arched as I'd earlier thought they would be, topping a small and slightly upturned nose above full slightly parted lips. Those lush lips drawn up slightly at the corners as she walked framing an unconscious smile of white even teeth. Her belly had a soft barely perceptible swell to it, rising from her skirt and holding thin tracery of fine hairs leading upwards to her navel. My jeans were getting a little confining as I watched her approach and my mind began to think of things other than the quiet view of the valley below. I looked away again.
Spring here is my favorite time though. The brook will become a narrow stream with the melting of winter snows in the mountains to the east and the spring rains arrival. The valley floor will be a smooth carpet of short green grasses, the yellows of dandelions adding random splashes of brightness and an odd type of pattern to the view. The far slope will be a dazzling combination of early leaves and blossoms as the tree filled slopes prepare themselves for the new growing season, though it will be the odors and colors lower on those self-same slopes that I really love. My spring visits are always planned for the week of Mother's Day, when lilacs are in bloom and the entire lower slopes will be alive with the colors of lilacs and the air will be intoxicating with their scent. I love the smell of lilac in the spring.
Turning back to the woman, I found I could now see the depth of color in her eyes as there were no more than ten paces separating us. They were fathomless depths of brown that seem to devour my form even as mine own ice grey eyes devoured hers. She was scanning down my form as I was scanning up hers and I watched as, slowly, her eyes rose up once more until they locked with mine. The communication there felt so real to me as those eyes seemed to deliver messages directly into my mind.
Just as we passed one another she would raise her hand to her hair, brushing it back from her face and there would be the slightest of contacts as her elbow brushes my upper arm. Her sandals would fall to the ground unnoticed as we stopped and turned to face one another, apologies upon our lips as our eyes met once again.
I would reach out pulling her nearer to my chest while she lowered her eyes from mine. My hands would slide to the knot which held her blouse in place undoing it, slipping it from her shoulders and releasing her newly bared breasts into view. The blouse would slide down her arms as she arched her back slightly raising her breasts even further for my viewing. I would have stripped the blouse from her arms and let it fall to the ground behind her before dropping my hands to her hips as I gazed upon her still lowered face.