I looked around me, in the silence and the still of morning. The sky was blue but dark clouds gathered beyond. A red hawk shrieked. The fractured hills were banded with shadows and subtle rose, purple, adobe, cinnamon. This was a stark haunted place, desolate as powdered bone, indifferent to human concerns, alien in its insouciant pride. It struck me that I had traversed the continent from the concrete ravines of New York to the rock canyons of the Badlands and I was heading back to the stately forested amphitheatres of the coast. There's some kind of balance there. Each place echoes with awe or trauma for someone. I returned to my car and drove out of there.
More place names, more endless highway, more bad road food. I could hear ancient drums solemn in the hills, softly strummed guitars around campfires, harmonica laments keening over the plains. Music and trauma and history – the things we all share – wove tapestries around me. I passed through a part of Wyoming, into Montana, and finally crossed the border somewhere north of Kalispell into the province I call my home. Right then, I turned forty. I had been gone three weeks. In some ways, three decades. British Columbia was raging with fall colour, golden against deep blue skies. I had returned home, a speck of dust borne on dust, followed by a quiet wind of ghosts.
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