I stepped on a thorn two nights ago. I'd gone outside barefoot in the dark and the 1-inch acacia spike drove through my thick hiking sock and into the ball of my foot. I yowled, grabbed and jerked and limped back to the (still-unnamed) trailer. The wound wouldn't bleed. I washed w/soap and water and crawled into bed to watch "Zelary" on my computer, ignoring the tendency to ponder just what the jolt had delivered.
The next morn I went on my merry, albeit tender-footed, way. I walked the dog and sipped espresso with a friend as we made plans to scout a prominent arch a few miles away that afternoon. A couple hours later we stood at the side of a sandy wash staring off at the arch that beckoned. The Mojave desert was emerald green with spring. Creosote bushes exploded in yellow bloom; long-stemmed evening primrose, lupine and desert milkweed burst forth amongst volcanic rock. Fresh desert bighorn scat dotted a secluded draw.
And the arch---the thick band of wind and water sculpted rock that remained as the mountain around her crumbled. The scout morphed into, "let's do it," (was there ever any doubt?) as I overrode body's dictate to rest and heal in favor of the call. The final twenty feet was straight up, all pressure on the ball of that punctured foot as my fingers sought rock that would hold. An exhilarating ascent; a friend's helping hand, reaching down. As I walked into her shadow I felt I was the first. A potentially life-saving shadow, given the 120-degree heat that would soon blanket this unforgiving landscape. I stared upon the miles of lonely desert desolation; felt the pure vital energy of the stone rainbow.
By the time I returned late-afternoon I could hardly walk. My foot was swollen, red and excruciatingly tender. I wasn't sure if I was dealing with the toxins from the thorn or an outside infection. I started to have chills. I pulled out my magic kit of homeopathic remedies and found ledum, a remedy for puncture wounds that has anti-tetanus properties. I should have done that 12-hours sooner. I fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. and woke at 10:00. I peed, boiled up a cup of chamomile tea, lit a candle and wrote of the necessity to seek and stand in narrow bands of shadow. Then I blew out the candle, rolled over and fell asleep.