it’s 3am –
the dead of night.
my fears have grown
larger than life.
the trees are black
in the blackest night.
they pierce my heart
with shards of ice.
the shadows are long;
they pull me in.
my life seems over
before it begins.
the wolves are howling,
their voices raw.
they’re on my trail,
nose to the ground.
the water is calling;
it’s running aground.
its black depths surround me;
it wants me to drown.
when daylight comes,
they’re all my friends.
the light stops the stories
that swim in my head.
one of the nicest things about blogging is the friends you make along the way. because of that, i thought i’d share a photo of me in my natural habitat.
just so you know that i am alive + well + happy, even if i am here much less than usual these days.
i appreciate you, you know. there are so many places to spend your precious time; i am honored that you spend part of it here, with me.
you are one of my many blessings. may you be blessed.
in august, i went on an overnight waterfall adventure to celebrate my life with atlas.
it turned out to be the perfect sort of adventure.
at one point, i got part-way down the trail to a waterfall only to find step after step after step. atlas was not a fan of steps, especially in his later years.
and atlas was right there with me. i could feel him! i could feel his presence.
then, i could see him. he was laughing. i heard him say, “you wouldn’t have gotten me down those steps!”
that’s why the adventure was perfect. it was typical: spontaneous & unplanned & not well thought out at all.
atlas would go along happily – he was game for almost anything – until he decided he was done, and then nothing i could do would convince him otherwise.
when i reached black river harbor, i had to walk across a suspension bridge to get to lake superior. it was a hot evening and i had hiked to a few waterfalls already and i really wanted to jump in the lake.
as i walked across the bridge, there was atlas again. he laughed & said, “you know if i were there, you wouldn’t get to the lake!”
because oh, did atlas dislike bridges. he liked to feel the solid ground under his feet. if i absolutely made him go on a bridge, even a floating bridge, he would lie down and belly crawl until i finally took pity on him.
again, so typical.
as i jumped in the lake that evening, i had a huge smile on my face and my heart was full of joy.
joy from the swim in my beloved lake.
joy from the memories of my beloved pup.
but even as i celebrated my life with atlas, there was a moment on the trail during which i realized that there was another reason i took myself on an adventure.
my grampa died in december. atlas died in june. my grama was dying (she died two days later, the morning after i got back). most of my time for the past three years had been spent with the three of them. now, they were all gone or going.
in that moment on the trail, i realized that i had spent so much time sitting with death, watching death come closer & closer, that this was my way of reminding myself that i was still very much alive.
it brings me joy to imagine that all of the natural treasures i find now are gifts from (angel) atlas. often, they are blue jay feathers – my favorite.
today’s gifts, received while on a trail run:
- tiny mushrooms that were the size & shape of wild pansies but poppy red (with a black splotch) in color.
- a buttercup yellow moth.
- a mushroom that looked like it had been caramelized and then covered in rainbow sprinkles. (i did not take a bite, but oh, how i wanted to.)
- a crooked tree on the aptly named applesauce trail that was full of tiny sweet wild apples. as i tossed my apple cores on the side of the trail, i pretended i was johnny appleseed.
water was my first home.
for 9 months, i floated in a warm salty sea.
the steady rhythm of my mother’s heartbeat soothed me.
water was my first home.
whenever i am in the lake –
where watery arms cradle me,
where waves sing to me –
i find a shady spot in the woods and sit down, back resting against a sturdy evergreen. everywhere i look, from ground to sky, all i see at first is green.
a garter snake slithers past. i admire the color & striping & size and decide it must be a close cousin to the garden hose. then i wonder if it did, in fact, provide design inspiration.
a single yellow leaf provides a splash of color on an otherwise green tree, and the earthy scent of fall fills my nostrils.
a monarch butterfly lands on a fern. it rests there for a while, orange wings glistening in the sunlight.
as i look though the pines, i see a sliver of white birch in the distance, trunk curved gracefully like a bow. like orion’s bow, i think. does he ever grow tired of holding it at the ready?
a jet-black dragonfly floats by on a current of air and a large black ant scurries across the forest floor. the ant pauses for a moment in front of me in order to rub its bald black head with two front legs. (at least that’s how it appears from my perspective.)
twenty yards away, there is a break in the trees. in the space between, i see blue sky & blue water.
all of a sudden, i see a flash of white wing against the blue. it’s a bald eagle! the eagle glides west, as straight & true as an arrow, and then flaps its wings and heads up toward the tree tops.
slowly, quietly, the birds begin to chirp: “here i am, here i am, here i am.”
i close my eyes and listen to the shiver of the wind through the pines. from deep inside, the tears begin to well.
“thank you,” i whisper to the woods, and i feel a wave of love + welcome rush toward me.