Hiking back on a rigorous trail at Palomar Mountain in the hot sun, I am craving shade. Red-faced and tired I look around the next bend and lean on a tall rock on the side of the narrow pathway. I frown at the tall oak and pine trees across the road, whose branches and leaves stay on their side of the path. Why can’t they act like an umbrella and give me a break from this incessant sun. I address the trees from my rock.
Why are you so mean?
We aren’t mean, we are just neutral.
You could provide a lot more shade. I am suffering here.
Not our job to interfere.
You have nothing to do. You could help out.
We are not going to move.
I hate you.
I drink my water and fan my hot head with my hat. As my body cools off, my bad attitude cools off too. My husband, a better athlete, is way ahead of me and returns to check on me. He looks frustrated. I tell him (only half-kidding) that I am mad at the trees for not providing shade.
Well, I am angry at you, because I never wanted to go on this hike.
Well, at least you said that out loud.
Okay, let’s go.
He takes off ahead of me and I follow more slowly, finding a walking stick on the road. At least I have one friend as my stick and I make our way around the endless hot trail, stopping more often than before. Then I hear my husband’s voice ahead. He yells out, “Shade”. Before he had expressed his anger at me, my husband had been silent, even the whole hour and a half winding drive up the mountain to this hiking spot. Now he is helping me out. I feel this kind of hope for deliverance, that he and I may become friends again and that the trees will reverse their policy and shelter me with shade. I pick up my pace, focusing my energy on the promised land around the bend. I see big trees with generous branches and leaves blocking out the evil sun. I plop down on a low rock to recover. A small wind from heaven arrives to cool the sweat off my neck. I look up to feel the breeze on my face and look at the trees. They stand in the right spot, paying attention to me and blessing me with their stretched-out arms and generous green sprinkling of shady fingers.
Thank you for coming to my aid.
We see you.
I really need you.
We know that. We are here to help.
I love you.
I pick up my stick and continue, as I head back into the sun. Soon I hear, “shade and breeze.” I find my husband standing in the new spot, with his face to the breeze. I feel the cool air on my arms and neck. My husband seems to have a bit more spark. Having recovered some sense of humor I ask him, “Whose dumb idea was this hike?” “Yours”, he answers as he takes off ahead of me again. After many more hot turns on the path, we come around the corner and I am relieved to spot our black car off the trail. As we walk to the car, I ask my husband, “How do you feel now?” He smiles, “Glad this is over.”
The trees won’t shelter me
from the hot sun
And you are mad at me
My misery has begun.
Silent you both stand,
Arms you withhold
This trail is dry and lonely
I long to be consoled.
You spit out your truth
Let me know you are mad,
Then your next step is lighter
And your heart seems more glad.
You call out, “shade”
To promise me hope
Around the next turn
Big trees reach across the slope.
I bask in the luxury
Of shade and breeze
Of your voice to my ear
Loving again, like these trees.