I was already convinced this was the sky I wanted to sleep under, having met him that autumn on the mountain, walking back from the library to the house where my roommates were studying. My eyes had been down, my Clarks scrambling the gravel of the drive. I had been thinking about Hopi Indians who lived in the valley, and the paper I was writing. We do that, attach pen to paper after reading, sure that we know. That’s when he, the sky, pulled my gaze up like a hand and he was a Hopi dancer wearing indigo who’d just tossed his white feathers over his shoulder. He stomped his foot and said, Look: The sky was covered with a cloud of stardust.
Weeks later grounds keeper Bob dropped me off in a wilderness forest in the dark indigo of night miles away from our small campus. That term I was the only student taking the professors up on the offer of extra credit for a solo campout. With a flashlight Bob helped me find a tree, and in a couple of minutes I heard his truck drive away. I mummified in a sleeping bag under a low pine bow. I shivered with fright and human loneliness. I listened to sounds I knew nothing of. How far I was from being a daughter of the earth, lying there on top of the ground.
The night passed slowly. I never once heard the Hopi dancer stomp his foot. In truth, I hid from him under the arm of the Ponderosa pine.
In the morning light, I saw where I had slept. A forest red with pine needles, and fifty feet away, a lookout to the valley, which I hadn’t seen in the darkness. I pulled on my sweatshirt, dug into my pack for a jar of instant coffee, bottle of water, tin coffee pot, mug, and matches. I picked up sticks and walked to the edge of the valley. I built a fire in the dirt.
Before me, across the valley was Mt. Shasta, and what do you know, I saw where the Hopi dancer had tossed his white feathers, and I thought, where is he now. Asleep. Naked. Me forgotten.
Creative Commons photo of Mt. Shasta shared by renedrivers