Early evening.  Just washed hands in the public bathroom. At a picnic table beneath the shade of a tree I don’t know the name of.  Something I’m due to improve—my botanical sense. The bark’s sinewy, and the branches shoot out and up, then droop down, then U-turn back up again.  There’s a bunch of compact clusters of dark green and brown; I don’t know the technical term for what’s clustering—not needles, not leaves.  They look like tiny little branches jutting out every which way, almost like hairy antennae.  A scouring brush.  Holiday corsages.

Yoav’s guess is it’s a juniper.  He’s probably right. Smells like one, now that I think of it.

The wind’s blowing in my face and bringing along more smoke.  I can feel it with my contacts and smell it.  There’s been a lot of smoke crowding the sky.  Wildfires surround Smith during the summer now, apparently.  September makes no difference, brings no rain yet.  What was this morning’s cerulean has become overcast with the haze.  Yesterday was worse.  Sure does make for nice sunrises and sunsets, though—there’s nothing quite like a deep orange sun, looking as fiercely ablaze as it actually is.

It’s so windy now the laptop’s threatening to bite my hands.  The sprinkler’s jutting arm is throwing well beyond its advertised circumference.  I’m enjoying the face spray.  Not so much water on the screen.  It’s incessant here, this one sprinkler.  Always the same one in a different spot, making the rounds like the hand of a clock to keep the entrance patch of lawn at the park soft and green.  Sad, if you think about the sheer amount of water required for pure aesthetics.  But it's not, I guess, in another sense.  It is a wonderful respite after a day of climbing or hiking out in the park’s exposed desert paths, eyes stuck in a squint to deter sand and sun, feet caked with sweat and dust, lips dry, skin thirsty.  There's nothing quite like soft, squishy grass after that.

This morning, like yesterday morning, we woke up early.  Today, an hour later because I argued for it and am a good debater—seven.  We made coffee.  By we what I mean is, Yoav made coffee while I lie in bed ten extra minutes making grunting noises that inspire him.  He’s the morning person.  I don’t feel bad.

Mornings are cold here, so you’re committed once you throw off the blankets.  I like it that way.  It distinguishes waking life from that in-between daze.  It forces me to commit to the present.  Like wading into freezing water:  It’s almost always easier to just jump in.

So I toss back the comforter and wrinkled sheet.  A small cloud of dust traces the motion.  I put clean leggings on.  Yesterday's underwear. Warm socks I keep tucked beside the bed for mornings and evenings.  This week's flannel.  My shredded and shedding puffy.  Then I squat outside and pee.  A sprinter’s parked next door, so I try to hide behind a tree, because I can imagine what they would think of me and my Gene, those sprinter people. But there’s only dried up bushes around.  I get really close to the ground and make it work.  Check out my state of hydration. Shake it off. 

Coffee’s not yet ready, so I decide to start making breakfast on our free burner, alongside my husband.  So weird to say that word. I figure the more I type it out the easier it'll get. 

This morning we have leftover sausages from Grocery Outlet to use.  (I wish I could tell you that’s the last you’ll hear of that fine store, but no, absolutely not.)  We ate three last night for dinner, so we have two left to nosh.  We don’t have ice in the cooler, and we pretty much refuse to waste food ever, so it doesn’t really matter what we’re in the mood for—it’s sausages for breakfast.   They were a whopping 79 cents because they were 3 days expired.  Vacuum sealed and all-natural, with, of course, plenty of natural preservatives, so we’re not worried at all about that silly little stamp.  But we opened the package last night, so, alas! There is a slight time crunch. Slight, mind you.

I scramble them up with eggs.  Toast some tortillas on the open flame (Necessary, always! Please do this, always! Whether corn or flour. It will change your life.  Van as home is no excuse. I feel bad for those without gas stoves living normal lives in gorgeous apartments with bathrooms!)  Yoav cuts fresh cilantro and green onion to add in.  We roll them up and have ourselves what we’ve been envying all week—breakfast burritos.  We’ve seen many delicious-looking breakie burritos from the town’s minimart, Ferguson’s.  We make mean oatmeal, sure. But it’s nice to have a change every now and again.  We hadn't really had breakfast burritos since my days at the Sheep.

Now’s our hour, and with strong coffee to wash down the spice, a marvelous hour.  The fresh greens on top, as usual, steal the show.  The dousing of salt and pepper bring out the sausages’ juicy flavor.  They taste as delectable and comforting as we hoped, and relieve all envy instantaneously.  Now, isn’t that nice?  Tomorrow won’t be so bright, but we do make damn good oatmeal. As I said. (Note: add lots of peanut butter).

I calculate how much these delicate bundles of joy cost us in my head, because I compute random things often, just for plain old fun and a bit of healthy arithmetic to keep my aging brain as young as it feels, and a bit of unhealthy obsession with how best to manage and save money (which enables me to stretch it, so it’s a trade-off, for sure: pragmatism for sanity). 

Somewhere between $1.50-$2.00 for all 4 small burritos is the magic solution to this complex equation (2 sausages, 4 eggs, 1/5 a bunch of green onion, 1/5 a bunch of cilantro, 4 flour tortillas. I know you wanted that breakdown reallllll bad). All items form grocery outlet, of course.  I tell ya, I love you, Grocery Outlet! And mom, for teaching me the skill of thrift, and handy math smarts, and dad, for teaching me the value and satisfaction of making something yourself.  And Yoav, for his patience whenever he gently tugs me back to reality as I stand at the edge of the canyon, lost in that vast and echoing space of the absolute extreme.

That was our morning.  That is many mornings, when we’re in a hustle.  A regimen of fuel.  We pack a lunch of leftover quinoa mixed with peanut butter, cranberries, honey and sesame seeds, and a handful of energy bars.  Lots of water for the hot day emerging.  Some carrots. Our new rope from S and A—the perfect wedding present that arrived just in time.  Gear. Stinky shoes, attached to the outside of the bag to air out and jingle us a jolly rhythm down to the lower bathrooms, where we’ll drop weight and any hibernating belly anxiousness with a large poo—we always hope for a big boy to start a big day—then be on our way, off to Cocaine Gully.  Crag and route names are always so creative and charming.

I got stuck on the morning this time.