It was a quiet Sunday morning at Twin Rocks Cafe. But for the cooks, servers and dishwasher sitting together in one location, all booths and tables were empty. I stood at the easterly window, gazing out over the Jones farm, listening to the light chatter of the weekend employees and searching the highway for travelers. There were none; no mouths to feed and no patrons to engage.
The sandstone cliffs embracing the town were crowned with low-lying clouds, which reminded me of milk chocolate ice cream topped with Cool Whip. A light mist began to fall, leaving minute drops to accumulate on the large pane of glass. Winter had arrived.
The last crop of alfalfa had been harvested and the field’s short brown stubble glowed golden in the early morning, reminding me of the crew cuts Rose gave Craig, Barry and me when we ran wild during our early summers in Bluff. In fall and winter our unruly locks, cowlicks and all, were allowed to grow to a modest length, but once school let out, it was good-bye to any strand over one-sixteenth of an inch. After each shearing, we would run our hands over each other’s prickly mops for days, enjoying the wiry feel and taunting one another with epithets like,”cue ball,” “egghead” or “baldy.”
Winter came sooner than I had hoped this year. While it is already mid-November and I should have been prepared for its arrival, somehow I am not. I am not ready for hard frost on car windows and heavy blankets on the bed. Looking out over the lonely road, I wondered whether we had in fact skipped a few months this year, and whether it should actually be July or August. I reasoned there had been many times when I believed it was Friday, only to find it was actually Tuesday, Wednesday or even Monday. No such luck this time I concluded.
Turning to look back towards the still sleeping town, I thought I saw three toe headed boys with skin the color of our Navajo employees and patrons racing for the cliffs. The sun bounced off their closely cropped heads and their white T-shirts gleamed in the warm daylight. The three whooped and hollered as they approached Gaines’ Crack, a cleft in the rock that led to the Sand Cave located just west of the Twin Rocks. That must have been their intended destination.
I was reminded of a summer day a several years ago. I had taken a book out on the porch next to the house above Twin Rocks Trading Post to enjoy a little solitude. As I sat there bathed in light, reading the novel of the moment, I heard someone say, “Hey dad, look at me.” Glancing up at the base of the twin monuments, I saw six or seven year old Grange looking for all the world like someone who had just scaled Mount Everest.
Suppressing my fear, and telling him I would come join in the fun, I headed up the steep and rocky trail. In my youth I would have hastily scrambled up the rugged path, but I was not young anymore and my muscles and joints did not like the challenge. When I arrived next to him, I rubbed his own short wiry hair and together we surveyed our community. He, like Craig, Barry and I at his age had no fear of the land’s vertical characteristics. For me, that was no longer the case.
No, I am not ready for winter.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team
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