Ojai

At seven o’clock we tempted our fatigue and drove some more after a day in both cars. The drive was short and awed very little but definitely calmed and probably inspired at least one of us. “Us” is in this case a both, a daisy chain with one proud link. Dark and the sweet smell of oranges and dust. We arrived at the wrong gate.

Virginia Petrucci writer in Ojai

A heat wave in Ojai is a depression of hope that one has found paradise. The town’s beauty is ground into the soil so that it is breathed in rather than noticed. Attending to one’s guilt in this air heals one’s past and erases the oppression of the future so there is only now and this.

Some lessons are scattered in the gait of a tortoise roaming around the grounds. Some promises are stuffed against the face of Topa Topa. A numb spark that one judges to be real rather than believes to be true; I’m an unlikely recipient of natural grace.

Virginia Petrucci writer in Ojai

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A Sunset

That precious, vocal horizon with its slender tide and little black islands, rare outlines that are usually bleached out by the chaos of sun and cloud.

I fell upon a sunset with colors partially hazed out by the coastal fog and by the tidal melancholy that flows during the exchange of light for dark, with only a creamsicle skyline to soften the blow. I adore dusk; I find myself in such horizons and distilled sadness. Having fallen into the colors and the peace of alone that I so rarely get to enjoy, I scattered my thoughts to the minimal wind and my limbs to the outskirts of the golf course. The 15th hole, I am told.

I am but an animal and my needs, when watered down from their human extravagance, are the same as the fluttering, everyday inhabitants of the brush I corrupt with my noiseless feet and screaming mind. Little animals—demeaned by their claws and beaks, and exalted by their innocence—speed then slow with irrational frequency. To occupy one of their minds, whose undecorated corners hold un-noble next to my own, is my solemn wish.

Boyspeed upon him, my husband climbs the hill of our little, gated street, full of his own special, jubilant emptiness (he is drunk). He brings friends in whose uncomplicated company he is happy; in his fellow beings he finds reward. I find solace in their absence; a solipsistic wish presently being fulfilled, I do not wish to be discovered.

I find a eucalyptus tree, porous with elderly grace, and crouch behind it, barefoot and unknowable, as I was as a child.

I take to breathing deeply and find a clear mind, proud and voluminous and watchful over the little orchard below which extends into the large orchard beyond, and the furtive skyline beyond that. That precious, vocal horizon with its slender tide and little black islands, rare outlines that are usually bleached out by the chaos of sun and cloud.

I take to reading, examining the luxury of my present situation and feeling only the grace of the mountains in my lungs and the established luxury of this man-made green. I encounter myself in the pages of my novel. I breathe and hush and fear, for my alone is limited and my presence will soon be required in the house whose vast newness makes me feel as though I’m living in a great English hall.

My 18671107_10100284943658096_7228718701803776810_nmind proceeds down its chosen literary journey when out of the quiet bushes comes an awful, halting shriek. Coyote vs. squirrel: I scramble to find a solution to this barking mystery when—shooting.

I scream—a proper girl scream—and roll with boy scout alacrity out of the way of the assaulting stream of water. Sprinkler hour with no warning bell. I jump up and whip around myself, trying to catch sight of anyone who might have heard or seen me in all my ridiculousness as I was mauled on a perfect Friday afternoon by a golf course sprinkler. No one—and yet, embarrassment floods my mind just as adrenaline floods my veins. I realize that it’s time to occupy the great new cool hall with its happy guests and human perfection, so at odds with nature and so aligned with comfort and dignity.

I gait away from my home, and towards my house.