Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Get A Little Homesick Sometimes

The chatter of the aspiring archers reverberates oddly off the walls of the range. The arch of the brick ceiling seems unsettlingly low, depressed by the weight of the building above. Florescent lights illuminate everything in stark clarity: concrete floor, whitewashed walls, piles of backpacks and discarded jackets to the sides, still damp from the autumn rain.

I've been standing in a line for fifteen minutes, waiting for my brief turn to shoot. I try to concentrate on the book on my hand that I've brought to pass the time, but the confused muddle of voices scrambles the words on the page. My bow, slung across my chest, presses comfortingly against my collarbone.

I stroke the smooth wood of the riser with the pad of my thumb; the polished surface slightly warm from the heat of my body. I trace the graceful curves of the limbs and shift out of the way to let a grinning novice pass. Only four people more in front of me.

I close my eyes...

I'm walking up a gravel road in the woods, the rocks crunching beneath my feet. I stroke the curve of the riser again, securing the bow against my shoulder with one hand. The other hand grips the quiver that bumps against my hip, full of mismatched arrows. The arrows still rattle together, wood and aluminum jostling each other companionably.

I come to the top of a small slope and pause in the full sunlight. The sky is the rich, delicious blue that one only sees over a normally rainy Pacific Northwest city on a sunny day in August--the blue of miracles. To my right, a path leads up over a small slope into the leafy woods; to the left is a field of waving grass punctuated by clusters of flowers. If I step forward a bit, I'll be able to see the distant snowy cone of Mount Baker.

I pay the range fee by stuffing a couple dollar bills into a rusted metal post and continue down the road. From the woods a bird whistles from far off; otherwise the only other sound is the wind. The breeze is cool and comforting, and the sunlight spreads a golden warmth over my skin. The wood of the bow is slightly warm under my fingers.

At the open range, I stop in front of the targets. There is not another soul in sight; I have the range to myself. I have no other plans, no pressing homework, no appointments, no goals for the day except, hours away, to make dinner. I pull the nock of the first arrow onto the bowstring and square up to the target.

I get a little homesick sometimes.

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