“As for me, I know nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under the trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love,
Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon…
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown,
Or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring…
What stranger miracles are there?”
– Walt Whitman
Sitting at this table looking out over the silhouette of three mountains and a glacier highlighted against a peachy background that fades to varying shades of blue before reaching darkness…. I feel the cool night breeze lift the hairs at the back of my neck, under my ponytail.
It feels good and I take a moment to shake my messy hair out and step out into the night on the deck, taking in the preternatural feeling only twilight evokes, that special time when shadows take life, stumps become predators and your imagination can run wild if so inclined.
My imagination however, is only concerned with the stars tonight…the Perseid meteor shower that promises to be spectacular with clear skies and for me,complete absence of city light pollution. I can already see an immense portion of the galaxy hidden from my eyes on the mainland and it makes me smile like a child again. These are the stars of my youth in the northern interior and these are now the stars of this summer of midlife.
I turned 45 on this mountain, and if I make it to 90… well then I’m halfway there…since blogging about Site C New Years Eve last year, a startling streak of white has appeared at one temple, and new lines are here on my brow…and I am ok with that. This is a no botox zone and every wrinkle has a story behind it I can assure you. How this world became so shallow I’m not sure, but I intend to age naturally if not conventionally. 😉
Shaking my head, I feel even more pine needles falling out of my hair, and laugh. I’m sure there is a bug in my ear somewhere and my legs are a myriad of bruises and horsefly bites from hiking hot mountain meadows and climbing over logs and rocks where I swear to God those flies just lay waiting for a victim to appear. One took a chunk of my ankle out and when I first felt the bite and reached down to whack at it,the damn thing was holding on with its little fly legs and teeth! Some women like diamonds, I’m pretty happy with some baking soda paste to take the itch off … 😉
There’s something to be said for picking up your life and moving it somewhere completely new, to a place your heart feels at home in.And there is more to be said about reaching the point in life where you know, with all certainty who you are,what you want to do with the rest of the time you have,and where you want to do it.
It’s not a change that happens suddenly, it’s more like the beating of moth wings against the screen door here at night… subtle but continuous…delicate and fragile…and then one day the fear of the unknown is overwhelmed by the knowledge that not following that dream is far worse than the fear of failure…and that moment my friends, is a powerful one.
And so here we are. In the mountains going feral until the time when we can move into our forever home in a few weeks. It’s so utterly and completely fulfilling to see city born children embrace the unknown and some very real fears and concerns. The day after we arrived a sign went up warning of a cougar in the area-yes I know, don’t give her a drink, ha ha -and the next morning we saw it leap across a rocky outcropping across from our place. Reality check, 101.
Day 2 lesson? Wildlife encounters… and how to be present in the new surroundings. This is how I grew up and it all came back easily.Teaching them how to track prints in dry and wet dirt. How to tell in a grassy meadow what kind of animal walked, what size it was and how long ago.Where and how to find out who your animal neighbours are and how to deal with them if encountered. How to listen to nature and respect that it has no care whether you are there or not…
And they rose to the challenge within a few days when coming back from a hike we encountered the aroma of decaying blood, a smell hunters would associate with a kill site. Knowing we had a cougar in the area, they reacted with the exact response I had advised and calmly we took another route on guard.No hysteria. No drama,even when faced with the potential for an encounter.
When we were all safely inside, I had to laugh.In the city I had witnessed more drama over a spider on the ceiling than I saw here with a cougar in the bush…I was so proud, because I saw a respect for the absolute need to understand that here you are part of the food chain- even in rural areas- and that nature has no emotion. It is, what it is, in all its brutal, beautiful and majestic glory… and I know they will learn more about life living here than they ever would have anywhere in Metro Vancouver…
As for me? I’ve been running in and out while writing this, looking at the sky and already seeing balls of fire unlike anything I’ve seen before shooting across the sky.I wish on every single one like a child: patience for those without, empathy for those in a position to change peoples lives, understanding and if not acceptance, tolerance for those across religious and partisan lines.. and for me, the ability to continue to see the beauty around me, the hope, the joy even when everything seems to have gone to hell in the world…
My neighbour Ludwig is playing big band music tonight, and it weaves its way through the trees and breeze in a magical way I can’t describe, but can only feel.. standing on the deck in the absolute darkness of night I think of Van Gogh because…
” I know nothing of certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream….”
Indeed… a bit of dreaming is what we all need… I’ve started book one and well… there is enough for book two already.
Dream that dream with me.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”
~ mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century
Since I read my first book of rumi’s writings and read this passage, I find myself reminded every time I find a luscious field in summer…. high with timothy or wild grass, rife with daisies bobbing their heads as they reach, reach for the sun… the wind blows lightly that rustling dry sound not unlike a million tiny wind chimes, delights the ear and cools the skin…
I can’t help but walk, hands dragging lightly through the grass, the scent of summer in the air until a feeling of complete and utter peace overcomes me.
This is the field I imagine rumi speaks of… one where we are free of judgment, free from conflict…where we are free from labels of left and right, gender or race, your way or my way and things get done because it’s the right thing to do, not because it serves any other purpose.
Maybe one day, I’ll meet you there…