The day is young and a relatively cool, 89 degrees; it’s early morning in Phoenix. The first hints of sunlight creep over the ridge behind the house. As I gaze through the window, my eyes catch on a line of ragged, honey-colored dust swirling slowly into the air from the scorched earth. It’s a red dragon rising in the dry, a banner that no one else sees, a secret. I watch, honored to be witnessing it and see the dragon shape-shift, flatten out, and then disappear.
I’m suddenly aware of my body, its place in the continuum, its deep connection with the steadfast, baked mountain, the Saguaro cacti reaching their massive, gell-filled, prickly arms in all directions, the clouds skirting the south end of South mountain. I feel all of these things inside of me, a part of me. The mountain is my spine, the cacti are my solid legs, the clouds, my breath. I am tasting moments that stretch out before me, all expectant and shimmering, all alive. They taste like sugar. I smile.
Moving through the quiet house, sipping from my mug of coffee, I quietly open the hall closet and smile again. My gear, lined up on the shelf. Pure goodness. Trudging back to the bedroom, I slip on jeans and a T-shirt. Then, into the bathroom to coat my face with sunscreen and a scrub of the teeth. The light grows a bit stronger from the window behind me; it’s time.
I walk back to the hall closet and suit up, starting with my chaps, then the heavy boots. Next, my thick jacket, balaclava, helmet, and gloves. I head out to the garage. She’s there, winking at me. My body’s response: a quickening of the pulse, a gentle thrumming in my ears.
Anticipation spreading through me like the warmth from a swallow of tart red wine does. I perform my bike safety check and then start her up. She roars awake, then sits rumbling. As I ease her down the driveway and head out through the neighborhood, my meditation begins.
Today, I headed east on Hwy. 202 toward Mesa. The roadway was largely empty. An occasional car turning onto the road at my periphery and eventually trailing off and then out of view. Me, safely planted in the lane, alone. My head, clear. A crisp, pointed awareness of the desert running along beside me, scrub and dust racing me. They win. I win. We trade back and forth. The desert laughs. I am completely seduced by its pocked hide, its cooked colors, the way it shakes itself open and then just as quickly, closes into pools of asphalt and cement.
My thoughts merge and hold. There, in the time of no time, a suspension of everything that I know. I merely ride, hold there as the landscape races past. Femmy, my bike grabs at a turn, the desert spreads out in front of me, bleached, whale-bone beige with small clumps of green. I am in love. Everything is soft and warm. I head on without my head. Just sweet relief at not having to think beyond the present moment. Just be. Just go. And, all the way, smiling.