This morning I left the house alone and found a walking partner along the way.
It wasn't my intention to invite company or be invited. I just started walking.
At the point I usually turn around and go back, I met a man with a walking stick. We greeted each other and we started walking towards the wild part of the area where the rattlesnakes sun themselves, the Bobcats hunt and the coyotes howl at the moon.
My new friend twenty years older than me was headed up the big hills towards the mountains for his heart. And invited me to join him in a no nonsense kind of way.
So I did.
We climbed the hills together with yellow wildflowers lining our path. I could feel the sun heating the air. He told me the story of climbing the mountain ahead to spread his wife's ashes. She was a school teacher. He brought poppy seeds to bury with her remains. They never did bloom. He had to stop at least thirty times to catch his breath until he reached the right spot.
We talked of travels.
People who litter. The parks are clean right now. No visitors. No trash scattered.
A mountain lion was in his yard the other night. His house backs the park. She was in heat yowling like cats do. The hair stood up on his neck. She stayed there until morning.
He pointed out where the coyotes sit. Like statues unmoving.
He pretended to throw invisible rocks at them.
They just looked at him.
Not even a blink.
He showed me where the cow pastures were forty years ago before the houses were paved in. Where the BlackBerry bushes used to be.
His wife made the best berry cobbler.
We reached the top of the hill. I was breathing hard. He looked at me smiling and said "we made it to the top".