SaddleBrooke Ranch Writing Guild—Special Places

The SaddleBrooke Ranch Writing Guild is a group dedicated to improving our writing skills. We meet on the second Tuesday of each month in the La Vista Room at the La Hacienda Club from 1 to 3 p.m. If you have any questions about the club, please contact Kathie Marshall at [email protected]. This month, we share a short story by Kathie inspired by the writing prompt, “Special places.

Bodies in Motion

By Kathie Marshall

A body in motion stays in motion. It’s kind of been my mantra from the womb on. My sister likes to say we were raised feral, but that is unfair to our deceased parents. Back then, kids played outside all day when not in school. We ran all over the place—the neighborhood lawns, boulevards, and woods became the corridors of our imagination and play. We netted frogs and crawfish at a nearby pond, climbed trees, played Swiss Family Robinson, collected butterflies, snakes, and bugs, and displayed our grisly specimens in my cousin’s garage.

On summer nights, we convened in our yards and caught lightning bugs in Mason jars. We hated it when our parents summoned us for dinner or for bed. Why did we have to eat? Who needed to sleep? Those days of our youth were glorious, and although those halcyon days were ephemeral, the outdoors continues to soothe my restless soul.

In my 30s, 40s, and 50s, my coterie of workout fanatics and I were ferocious. We ran 10Ks, biked and rollerbladed, went to the gym before work, and on weekends hiked and camped at every opportunity. I jogged up Angel’s Landing in Zion, hiked twenty-two miles Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon in one day, backpacked into Havasupai, and kayaked in rivers and seas. Always in motion, except for those wonderful moments when we concluded our feats of fitness and reached into our coolers for that tall, cold beer. Never had exhaustion felt so exhilarating, and in those moments, we had no care in the world.

These days, the machismo of youth has left me. The years of savage workouts have taken their toll on my back and joints, and I worry that my body will fail all too soon. The outdoor experiences are different now, but ever so essential to my spirit. An early morning tennis match erases the night terrors. A bike ride on the Loop; a hike in Oracle State Park is a favorite for its lack of people and amazing vistas. I love wandering around in this scorched land of snakes, lizards, birds, and insects.

Eventually, summer arrives. As the months crawl on, we are weary of the brutal heat, and I refuse to be confined. And as always, we flee from this harsh desert to the serenity of the wild sea below the coastal cliffs of Laguna Beach. We never do too much on our annual summer sojourn to the coast. Instead, each day we gather up our towels, hats, beach chairs, and umbrellas, slather sunscreen on every inch of exposed skin, and plop down on a sandy beach. We watch the surfers and admire their sheer athleticism; we walk along the surf for a mile or two and finally return to our Tommy Bahama chairs. Listening to the rhythm of the waves cascading to the shore and the cacophonous squawks of the seagulls, enjoying the gentle breeze against our skin, I am at peace … in a perfect place.