April a l’Orange

 Something, misplaced and forgotten long ago, found it’s way into my orange juice. Our orange tree was prolific this year and here in the No-Rush Times the harvested fruit glows knowingly from the bowl on the counter and tempts me with seductive tingling promises, sotto voce. I never randomly grab. Though I know, I do so know, it makes absolutely no difference which nubbly orb I select, I want the perfect choice. They’re all perfect, I know, but somehow the selection process anchors me a bit, and how those winds do bluster! So I’ll take three perfect oranges, and the old fashioned small juicer from the pantry. We have an electric juicer, it expresses itself with snarls and rips and while useful, my method requires room for quail song. I regret the violence of the knife blade as I slice the first orange, though admittedly, pleasure accompanies my action in equal measure. I can see the oily spray rise halfway to my nostrils and then what I can’t perceive visually must arrive and oh and harken to the day! My cup is half full.
After breakfast, my preparations turn to the care of my horses. Today is the day I must deliver board money to my barn. I’ve taken the stay at home orders seriously, though Arizona has not. Once or twice a week over the past few weeks I have gone to pack up containers of pellets and supplements, to bring my horses out for the farrier or the chiropractor, or to give them a little snack and a graze. There are carrots in the refrigerator crisper and I select a skinny one to place on the cutting board, which is framed with the stacked half-shells of the juiced oranges. I slice the carrot in little consumable coins; densely pigmented orange slashes smack the cutting board and compliment the pastel juice wash and smattering of seeds.
Preparation is tedious. My boots are in the back of my car and I’ll change into them at the barn, as I always do. I put my cell phone, my wallet with my driver’s license, the small bag of carrots and a pink-disked respirator into the magenta tote with the frayed handle. Last year I had a bad allergic reaction to bermuda grass hay and that respirator was the only thing I could find at Home Depot that seemed adequate to protect against hay dust. Now I’m especially glad I have it. I’ll be packing up Bermuda/Timothy grass pellets and maintaining social distance. I place a pair of clean gardening gloves in the bag and I’m on my way.
The drive is less than 15 minutes and there are so many people on the road! Our cul de sac is peaceful and our neighborhood of retirees and families is far from rowdy even in the best of times. Where is everyone going? As I near the barn I pass two riders, all cowboys hats and black swishing tails, and an old man walking. The man waves. My NPR fades in and out…Steve Inskeep suddenly seems to sing, “…..of glory, the shadows,
leading all to……” Instead of parking alongside the north gate, I go to the electric gate on the west side of the property. I figure pushing the button is a little less touching than undoing the chain and the latch on the other gate. Maybe. Maybe not.
Well, not quite. Quiet. Birds are singing. Rocky and Sweet Al have already whinnied a greeting and Faline continues to do so. Julietta is missing from the turnout. The gray Toyota pickup truck and a red Jeep are parked outside along the fence. I know they are out riding. I’ll have the place to myself, at least for a little while.
April a L'Orange

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