Why I prefer the Navajo reference walking rain to the Latin word virga. Looking west down the Las Huertas Creek drainage to the Rio Grande and over the great river to the volcanic plug Cabezon, Santa Ana Mesa at the end of the Pajarito Plateau, up the east fork of the Jemez River and to the Rio Puerco country beyond. Thanks to the pueblos, the BLM and my iPhone.

Back in the saddle

We’re back on the trail this morning after hearing from Cowboy’s vet that his cancer has not spread since surgery June 28 to remove a malignant tumor.

This is good news. It at least means there’s no evidence of more cancer for now for my 6-year-old pal and it probably means the adenocarcinoma is not the most aggressive kind. I am relieved. Our vet called first thing after looking over the x-ray and CT scan taken on Monday. It’s been a long haul since Cowboy’s other vet first suspected a mass on June 25 and referred us on to the surgeon.

Cowboy just seems grateful that we saddled up this morning for a walk instead of another trip to the doctor, though he has been an excellent patient and healed faster than I expected. He’s all the way back to his happy, heeler-kind of normal. He’s a tough cowboy with good doctors.

We’ll go back initially for monthly checks. The vet who called this morning treated Cowboy as pup when he was surrendered to the hospital with erlichiosis (ur·luh·kee·ow·suhs), a tick-inflicted disease. Cowboy’s first home was Laguna Pueblo. I brought him to Placitas for foster care. It took only three days for his status to change. In 2016, the tiny, sick pup rested his head on my leg as we sat on the floor and watched the season’s first big rain through a patio door.

My report today might seem odd if you have no experience with cancer. I had a CT scan a few days before Cowboy.

Trying to explain the complexity of a chronic disease involving billions of rambling cells, our vet said Cowboy’s cancer experience might be akin to my own: Twenty years out from prostate cancer and seven since treatment for lung cancer.

At any rate, today we are in the clear.

My first thought was how extraordinary it is for me to be able to enjoy this view while others suffer. I am an American Boomer and I often feel this kind of privileged-person guilt. This morning it probably was fueled by watching a movie about World War 11 courage and brutality, ”A Call to Spy,” before bed.

My second thought was about standing by death beds and wondering about death. A boilerplate religious answer about living and lives taken, pain and suffering versus happiness and comfort, came next: We have to know one to know the other. But, for me, that still doesn’t dispel the mystery.

My next thought, after going back to bed and working on sentences in my head, was embarrassment about my habit of trying to ascribe human stories to morning mountains, my growing aversion to metaphor.

I really had no answers. I gave up on silly sentences. Time to move on. Time to walk with Cowboy, iPhone in hand but only the most straightforward words worth the while.

I am thankful for iPhones for sure. I can see this mountain from bed but have to get up and go outside for a clear view. I was drawn this morning by the play of shadow and light on the green mountain flanks. I can record the image in seconds, without words.

Maybe mixed up in my thinking, too, was re-reading an E.B. White essay, “A Slight Sound in Evening,” about Thoreau and Walden.

White wrote there about the purity of Thoreau’s words: ” … all things and events speak without metaphor.” He admired Walden for conveying “religious feeling without religious images.”