Author's Note: This was a descriptive essay I wrote for my composition class. I like it alot and consider part of my portfolio of creative writing. So I've decided to share it with all of you. Hope you enjoy! Teens
A bleeding sun slips slowly down the horizon, leaving its stain upon Sandia's rocky peaks. The rough, chiseled rock flushes a rosy pink, the same delicate shade that decorates the inside of a watermelon. Every so often, a lonesome chirp of a cricket or the murmur of a voice behind the solid gray walls breaks the silence of oncoming twilight. I remember it so clearly; the crackling crunch of dry grass beneath my bare feet, the sweet heady fragrance of roses with a hint of rosemary, the caress of the cool desert air, the stretching shadow of the London Plane, a type of gum tree, knobby, yet still majestic. It almost seems as if I can touch the cold twisted metal of my swing, but as I reach out my hand, it dissolves away, and I find myself blinking at a glowing computer screen, back in reality.
Growing up in the arid climate of New Mexico, I envisioned my backyard as the perfect Garden of Eden, when compared to the bleak desert terrain populated by a wide variety of bushy little shrubs, juniper, yucca, and piñon. I could lose myself in its transitioning seasons and forget that the rest of the world existed. I could instead, wander into the depths of my imagination, where time no longer held any definition and only the changing seasons reminded me of life's passage. It seems like yesterday that I stood in my backyard, the august sun filtering through the tree branches. It was the last summer that I would ever stand in my beloved personal paradise. By fall, the laughter of my childhood would no longer ring in the small square yard, or whisper through the boughs of the cherry blossom tree. Instead, another's memories would fill the empty gap that mine had left behind.
Our house was one of the first to be built in our neighborhood. Right on the edge of the foothills of Sandia, we lived just far enough away to experience the wild, harsh, and simplistic beauty of the Southwest. Back in 1990, our yard resembled nothing of the utopia that it grew to be in later years. The London Plane, a mere sapling at the time, barely peeked over the thick slate colored concrete of the west wall, shielding our yard from the surrounding wilderness and later the prying eyes of nosy neighbors. Ugly brown oregano invaded the confines of the terrace like some hungry parasite. Flaky, yellowed hay littered the remaining portions portraying the poorly planned yard of a new homeowner, who is completely clueless about the aesthetics of outdoor decorating. As, the seasons rolled by, my neighborhood expanded, until our house no longer stood solitary in the boney lands, but sat in a middle class suburb of ever-expanding Albuquerque.
As our neighborhood swelled and spilled out into the foothills, so too did our backyard flourish and mature. Bright fiery orange roses, ruby strawberries, and feathery sage replaced the parasitic oregano, and newly planted rosemary scented the air with a semi-sweet musty freshness that blended with the varying fragrances of roses lining the north wall. The willowy branches of the London Plane stretched languidly upwards and thickened, becoming gnarly and knotted, while the young dewy grass dried into faded yellowy-green stubble. Along the corner of the house, my sister and I planted a part of ourselves into the hard dirt in the form of roses. I chose the Olé rose, a crimson ruffle of soft petals redolent of the sweet melodies of the opera "Carmen," while my sister selected the regal delicate pink of the Queen Elizabeth rose.
Our backyard was our secret paradise. Our minds knew no boundaries as we created mazes of obstacle courses around our swing set, pretended that our jungle gym was a spaceship, and screamed shamelessly at the top of our lungs as we crawled up the slide away from our fabricated nemesis, the "fire monster" (something that looked akin to a cross between Godzilla and a dragon). We lived in our own little world, where time puttered down to a standstill and only the shifting seasons remained to remind us of some sort of passage.
In the fall, golden leaves from the grandfatherly London Plane dropped to adorn the ground, and gnarly branches stretched up like fingers towards the sky, supplicating for the quick coming of spring. My sister and I gathered the dry orange leaves and formed small mountains which we flattened in one fell swoop as we leapt off the terrace wall. In the winter, when the sky shone a bright robin's egg blue and the mountain peaks sugared with a slight dusting of snow, we congregated our fifty-two Kelly dolls under the London Plane for their annual camping trip in the unknown wilderness (also known as our backyard). We tediously pitched small little tents made out of washcloths and stowed the excited little Kellies away for the night, tucked softly in various colors of socks. One of these nights, it stormed (which was quite a surprise to all of us, since bad weather is virtually nonexistent in New Mexico), and we had to scurry out into the deluge, amid the flashes of lightening and rolling thunder, to rescue our thoroughly drenched dolls.
In the spring, harsh winds tore across the foothills and blew dust into the river bed of the Rio Grande, like a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner. Spring was the most unpleasant of seasons, since you woke up covered in a light layering of gritty dust. Somehow the dirt always managed to creep under the cracks in the windows and doors. Nevertheless, our backyard remained a flowering paradise, with golden daffodils peeking up from the early frost just in time for Easter. Bubblegum pink blossoms decorated the cherry blossom tree and infused the dusty air with the faint aroma of fresh cherries. The walls surrounding our yard formed a small oasis of green amid the dusty shrubs and stunted pines. The wind buried the inside of the right wall in dirt, but the rest of the yard remained free of the hovering dirty haze that loomed over the Rio Grande valley.
During the summer, my sister and I spent from dawn to dusk out amongst the flowering purple sage and blossom trees, fabricating intrepid adventures with our dolls and reenacting the dinosaur's great migration from the womb of our playroom to the sunny strawberry patches. Step by step, we would move our hundreds of model dinosaurs down the steps, through the kitchen, and finally out onto the hot patio. We gathered the slightly shriveled pigmy strawberries growing on our terrace and conducted a grand feast for the lucky few (none of our dinosaurs perished) who survived the cataclysmic end of the land before time and entrance into Eden. Our mother always wondered why our dinosaurs' mouths were stained red.
Closing my eyes, I can see the dusty pink of the mountain and the dark purple of its shadows. The nectarine tree droops with hard butter yellow fruit and the faint perfume of the Peace Roses scents the air. I remember standing out on the patio in the dry summer air, looking up through the branches of the London Plane at the stars, one last time.
Time is too linear for my taste. If I could just circle back to my childhood where life held no meaning other than it just 'was,' I would not feel the blinding panic and overwhelming nostalgia that precedes each ticking second as I move progressively forwards, unable to go back and relive, if only once more, my memories of my time in paradise. At that time there didn't have to be a reason because time simply didn't exist. Days merged into eternity and when the coyote moon finally rose gleaming up over Sandia's rosy peaks, we departed from our desert Eden back into the world of reality of linear time, leaving behind a little of ourselves in the midnight air to serenade with the crickets.