Looking out the windows this windy morning, second cup of coffee on the stump beside me, thinking of friends and groceries and coronavirus.

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I remembered that March 18 was the date I stocked up for the COVID-19 quarantine, Cowboy food, too. I’ll need to make another trip soon. I was a thorough shopper on the trip a month ago, but not a hoarder. I am also eating less, and more carefully, during my slightly more than usual isolation. My neighbors, Lori and Mike, and stepsister Susan, have helped tide me over with masks and celery, apples, potatoes and coffee.

Another April 18 anniversary came to me as I worked on my next grocery list: It’s been 35 years since I quit drinking.

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Thirty-three years ago on April 18, I was sitting up in my sleeping bag in a morning snow squall, squared away among smooth, red boulders above the Escalante River in Utah. I was boiling water from a seep an arm’s reach from my sleeping pad, making coffee with a small white gas stove. I’m pretty sure I would have had a granola bar for breakfast, not knowing then what I know now about sugar’s effect on me in the morning.

The fresh water I found in this good, wind-sheltered place above the river reminded me of the date of my last drink, two years before. But now I am remembering my Escalante time even more.

I had walked up the river on warm, sunny day, wading in ankle to knee-deep water where the canyon narrowed. The clear water riffled, gliding steadily downstream. I could see my sneakered feet on the smooth, sandy bottom.

The snow lasted just the morning, of course. I would walk back downstream a day or two later in warm sun, wading the river just because I could. A length of salt cedar, red bark left on, made a fine walking stick.

On that April 18 morning, I was glad I was drinking Escalante spring water. I have kept a page from a notebook, recording the date, now pinned to a bulletin board in my office at home in Placitas.

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