what might have been

Camping!  Oh the woods of Vermont have so much to offer.  From the miniture mossy lands lurking in the decomposing layers is such all the way to the towering mountainous views.  Hmmm… I love it to the core.  I have found home.  That is certain.

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But, I will be honest, for if I wasn’t what exactly would I be doing, writing here?  

It was one of those weekends where quite frankly everything got on my nerves.  A single whine, disagreement, a burned piece of french toast, (my husband… in general) all easily sent me reeling.  I was falling fast into the depths of anger, grasping for anything on my way down.   After the good portion of our first morning was spent searching (with many wrong turns and no baby backpack) for a waterfall (which ended up looking more like a water hill to my crabby eyes), I decided it was in everyone’s best interest for me to take a hike.  Alone.  And fast.

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I would like to say the effects of such a decision set in immediately.  But again, that would be a lie.  It took a full twelve hours and a good nights rest to let the energies of my hours alone gain momentum enough to change the course of my minds eye.  Turns out there is no such thing as going the wrong direction.

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It seemed as if every corner I took on my hike I crossed paths with the Appalachian Trail.  I even caught glimpse of a few hikers, who over my few miles reached celebrity status in my mind.  I just kept thinking I want to do that.  When will I get to do that?  It’s too late for me!  All this self-pity.  All this regret of what might have been.  All this fear of whats to come.

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I climbed atop a big old rock and set up a spot so that no travelers would not catch sight of me, but I could watch them come and go as I pleased.  (Totally creepy, I realize this now) As I looked around I thought of the glory of such an adventure.  I thought of the life changing realizations, the breath-taking views, the camaraderie, the simple pleasures, the memories.   I thought about them, and I felt just plain old bitter.  When I couldn’t take much more, I slid down the rock, careful not to slip too fast on the mossy stones, and wandered through the woods, continuing to search for my yellow trail markers, with a heavy heart.  It feels terrible and guilty and wrong to wish for anything other than these gorgeous faces to be by my side for always.

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IMG_4979But, I have to imagine, we all do this, even if for only the briefest moments.  And surely, its clear from my writing that I love them with all a heart can hold.  But I think for a weekend I wished I had done something else first.  Something extraordinary, something selfish.

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This morning I woke up and willed myself to be a morning person, and lo and behold I was back.  My husband was once again a tall drink of water, breakfast turned out just right, I liked my dog, and whines sounded less… whiny (mostly).  I can’t explain it other than I just had a change of heart.  Those cuddles were just too good.  Hearing, “Mama, I love you faster than a peregrine falcon” made me smile too deeply.  The sight of worn in, painted up carharts, the smell of coffee perking on a fire, my boys.

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I have learned that an actual language of the heart exists.  And that the energy it uses to forward information within your body is simultaneously projected in the areas around you.  Your joy, your passion, your frustration, your anger is all transmitted outwardly and is picked up by others knowingly or not.

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The Trembling Earth

Some memories are sparked by a photograph or a conversation.  They are bright and vivid and you can recall them quite easily.  There is no mistaking where you were or who you were with, they are tales told over and over again throughout the years.  Other memories are more illusive.  They are stored only in the form of scent and sound.  More often than not you hear a song or smell something cooking that reminds you of something, yet you just can’t place your finger on it.  But other times you take a deep breath in, close your eyes and nod in recognition.  For these times there is no doubt that your olfactory system is alive and well.

Ten years ago, I was in the same place that I was this weekend.  I huddled amongst knobby knees of cypress trees. I spied the wings of interesting birds that swooped low tempting treacherous gators to have a snack. I hiked on top of the peat bog that squished like glue between my toes.  I ate delicious food cooked over a fire.  I paddled in canoes with people I love.  I listened to owls and the chorus of other eery sounds during what I thought was the quiet of the night. Just like I did this weekend.

This black tea water, the smell of the earth, the sound of a canoe paddle swishing.  There are only a few memories I hold as dear as these.  

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you The Okefenokee-

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Weekends with no obligation, nothing to do but be together in the calm of the wild, those are my favorite.  It was an honor and a pleasure to bring these three boys to a place that taught me so much.  I hope it did the same for them.  

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On one side of the Suwanee everything remained intact, exactly how it has for the last several millenia.  You can easily envision The Native People of the land peering out from the ancient stoops.  Without much effort you can practically see the look in an alligators eyes that reminds you that they actually roamed with the dinosaurs.  This place is sacred and powerful.

But just the same, so delicate.  On the opposite side of the river this trip, I saw solid devastation.  It took my breath away on a bended knee.  I can only imagine what the men and women who have worked and traveled there for 30 or 40 years felt as the trembling earth incinerated three years ago.

If anyone understands the dynamics of fire and the necessity of it, it is my husband.  He is a forester and has seen her perfectly control the land in many stands.  There is no denying on the whole humans are confused on such a subject.  It seems backwards to do anything but put out the flames, but if this is what we choose to do, then we are creating a ticking time bomb.  A fire will strike through lightning if no human can get to it first and torch the place down.  Brush, small trees, and other invasives need to be kept at bay.  They do serve as temporary shelters but in the end they are just fuel for the fire.  The Okefenokee was no different.  Yes, they did controlled burns but not enough of them.  I am sure they would have liked to do more, but with budget constraints and the number of employees that massive chunk of land was just out of reach.   But not for mother nature.   In April 2011, with a sever drought and a thunder and lightning storm the fire began.  Even after the licking flames were put out the peat smoldered for over a year.  You can see a bit of the massacre here.

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It is not all so bad.  There are a few “mother” trees, scraggly looking living Cypress standing alone amidst acres and acres of singed black stalks indicating a sure recovery one day.  Animals still roam the area and truly don’t seem to mind.  I am sure the woodpeckers of the swamp quite like all the hollowed out trunks.  Less work, more meals I suppose.  The swamp still holds its ancient magic.

A journal entry from December 9, 2001 reads the following:  Me and Molly went on a hike this afternoon in the pouring rain.  It was so so so so much fun.,  I love the rain.  I suppose it’s because everything gets really quiet and it is just so relaxing.  Me and Molly rolled up our pants and hiked into the woods.  We hiked until we got to the tree that grows sideways like this:  (I included a little drawing 🙂  We climbed until (an arrow pointing the exact location) then me and Molly fell off.  Then we talked and talked until I was so cold.  But we talked about some awesome stuff.  I am inside by the fire tonight, its nice because its raining tonight too.  Also, about the adventure with Molly in the woods, we got lost.  And well, we found our way back purely on instinct.

Instinct huh?  This just makes me laugh.  But perhaps its true, perhaps the peat laden land brought out the best in me, gave me some directional instinct to follow.  Or perhaps I was just a silly  little girl, with all the hope in the world.

peaceful living

It is time to shake things up a bit in this here household.  We are going camping for two nights to celebrate the loveliness that is my husband!  A man so good and sweet I often feel he deserves to take a bow when the day is done.

We are thrilled and ready for anything.  On this trip we have made some contemplative goals for our family.  A few days out in the land of quiet and simple.  (Although some may argue that is precisely what we have around here…)  We are thinking of it as an experiment of sorts.

Our hopes are…

To see what it is like for the boys to have not-a-one toy at their disposal.  Of the late, my man and I have discussed the possibility of arguing, fighting, crying what have you being (mostly) to blame for the thing that they call a toy.  I have listened to this interview and it sank in a little deeper.  So, we are armed with extra clothing, lots of squares of absorbent cloth, a couple of good camping books (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one), and of course the ever important meals that surely include some yummy breads.  And that my friends is all.  I suppose this is not atypical of a camping trip, for most of the world knows full well mother nature supplies us with all our imagination needs to feel fulfilled and complete, especially the littlest amongst us.

To ex-nay on the ugar say.  Yes, traditional camp fire smores are out this go around.  Ok, truth be told, a bit of honey went into our loaf of banana bread, but other than that, the sweet toothed among us (all of us) will go without.  I recently read this little bit which of course got me thinking.  And why not?  Just the other day in fact, I had to literally give away several batches of cookies because I could not get my child to think about, talk about, or EAT anything else.  His mind was only on cookies.  Cookies, cookies, cookies.  Now, that they are out of the picture things are dramatically better.  But the gloriously sparkling, iridescent crystals of sweetness have nothing growing minds and bodies need.  And we are all in need of a little sugar detox anyways.  So, no time is better than the present!**

And finally, to bask in the glory of nothing to do, nowhere to be, but be with one another.  Explore, sing, marvel, and smile with one another for three full days.  Perhaps see a sunrise, maybe sneak a peak at a sea turtle babe, linger, lounge, and relax.  Oh my.

I hope your weekend is filled with some aspiration and contemplation for the upcoming seasons as well as a bit of marveling at the world around.  With this weather cooling you hardly have a choice.              Until Monday….

**10:17 Amendment:  Negate all hopes of a sugar free weekend.  I just made a scrumptious chocolate cake for my sweetie.  I couldn’t resist.