sketch of jasmine flowers by David Borden
(c) 2013 by David Borden
A cardinal called in short, quick chirps, like a skip on a CD as I wandered off the main path that runs along Barton Creek. His mate called back, and they bobbed and dashed through the tangle of close branches. I watched them, strolling the lower path, which curves away from the onslaught of mountain bikers, whose cacophonous presence shatters the tranquility of the trail.  The bikes speed along, knobby tires spewing rocks, skid and pop, mechanical parts clinking, riders shouting at the pedestrians "on your right!" Before them, the birds scatter to the skies, the lizards duck into broken, rotting logs, and the squirrels scrabble up the trees to flick their tails. The riders never experience the minutia of the trail, the delicate spindle of spring grasses, the turn of an unfolding leaf, the aroma of a new opened flower, nor do they care what they miss. They've come not to absorb nature, but to conquer it; thus, they have dominion over the upper trail, the one I have departed.

I take the lower path, and on it, I travel alone, leaving the clang and rut, the ego-drive, and the sweat of conquest. Here I commune with the small creatures. I pass into the unmistakable scent of jasmine. I pause, breathing deeply to the soles of my feet. The jasmine creeps and dangles on the surrounding brush and weeps from a Mountain Laurel, whose violet blossoms have already dropped for the season.

It takes me back to my life in Morocco: night-blooming jasmine would waft through our open windows on the cool desert breeze and I would revel in my incredible fortune. How did I deserve such a life of adventure? Free to travel and discover, bleed the lines between cultures and continents?

It is powerful, this smell that plumbs for memories beyond mere images and into emotions and states of being. I am by myself on this path, heady with life's experience until the cardinal brings me back with his skipping CD. He is a fiery red dart through the umbra. The speckled sun behind him shimmers like water; I have shrunk into one of the small creatures on this ocean floor of green. I pause along the tangle like the bird, feeling both mighty and insignificant, feeling alone and not, as I draw the jasmine into my journal and into my journey.

This is the path through the valley. This is my way to the mountain.

#wonder #inspiration #path #austin #texas #nature #sketch #drawing #naturedrawing #memory #life


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