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auo. ix al tw uot p li4 s nw DATELINE I EL PASO Alone With the Greasewood and the Sage BY ELROY BODE Imove along on my own two good feet down an Upper Valley road, the sun mildly shining after an early morning rain, the air a bit muggy but full of the smells of grass and weeds and wet dirt, the sound of water tumbling in a nearby canal. As it happens from time to time when my inner psychological coffee pot is perking nicely, I begin to sing. At first I just tootle snatches of a song to the roadsidea bit of “Till There Was You” from The Music Manbut before long I am in full throttle, letting rip a Robert Preston, straw-hatand-striped-coat tribute to the pleasures of being alive: a thanks for still being able to walk my personal glory roads. I walk, whistling, past a yard where speckled shade lies beneath a cottonwood. The yard has a vacant, solitary airjust the sun about, and weeds, and a worn tennis ballbut it’s my kind of place, my Sunday morning church-ofthe-Earth. And I am still whistling as I pass a cluster of small white butterflies. They are moving about like wobbly, white-frilled children trying to find their way back home inside the maternal expanses of sweet-smelling bushes along the road. Across the road, in an alfalfa field, I see a man and a little girl standing together, trying to catch the butterflies with their nets. They look as if they have gone into the ocean to wade in the blueand-purple surf. Thenas it always happensmy buoyancy begins to fade, my steps slow, my song dies, and I am staring ahead, grim-faced, thinking: I can never leave them alonemoments of beauty, scenes of bliss. I always end up wanting to do something with thempreserve them, celebrate them, get them down on paper. But I am never equal to the task. Bliss cannot be transferred to a page. n every ordinary, daily actcutting an apple in half, closing the refrig erator door, answering the phone we are in the middle of life. We will never be more in the middle. If we do not know this, if we ignore the importance of the passing moment, we are lost. Life will always seem to be the momentous something out therewaiting for usthat we keep hoping to find, some radiant grandeur rather than the obvious that is always before us: the blinking of our eyes, walking across a room, sitting in a chair. Life is in every unheralded space. Every bit of it is at our elbowour constant, patient companion even as we scan the horizon for signs of drama, some astounding aurora borealis that will illumine us, overwhelm us, make us glow with rich significance. Lifewe might say at some future time, regretfully: It was here all the while, right next door, and we never quite fully looked its way. Today the Earth is, as usual, solidly in place: meaning, revolving in air in the middle of nowhere. My life on Earth is equally solidly in 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 2, 2009