Sunday, May 20, 2018

Between Showers

May!  The rainy month!  But, oh, how lush and green everything is growing.  It is hard to believe it was all bare three weeks ago.  Yesterday, we went up to Elk Garden to see the sights.  In spite of the humidity and passing clouds, it was fog-free!

Okay, there was a little fog on Mount Rogers, but that's to be expected.  I don't think I've mentioned that this is our state's highest peak at 5729'.  It's around 7-9 miles round trip from any approach and the summit is entirely covered in a sort of relic boreal forest.  Just my kind of place!  It's on my list to return later this year.

Yesterday, however, we followed the Appalachian Trail just into the woods, after a little bouldering for the children.  I met a lovely couple who had me take their picture, and we exchanged our stories of this wonderful place where we live.  Even though 30 or more years separated us, we agreed the mountains never leave you. 

Into the forest, to the place the children have named "Brambly Hedge."  What a lovely carpet of Spring flowers, so pleasant to walk through.  Not a stinging nettle in sight!

And then, back towards the trailhead and home.  These weathered wooden posts and wind-beaten hawthorn trees will never leave me, either.

If this is any indication of all the rain we've gotten, here's the delightful little waterfall that the AT was yesterday.  Those are the stairs leading into the woods toward Whitetop. 

Every stream was rushing and roaring, water was flowing across the roads.  I just wanted to lay down in a creek and let it flow across me.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


I registered the children for public school yesterday.  It wasn't something I thought I'd ever do.  I'm the kind of person to make a decision and see it through until the bitter end.  But this one wasn't that.  Life these days is about making my own choices, seeing I have options, taking up new things because I want to.  That sounds oversimplified, and I guess it is.  When I write things here, there are many layers to my words, things I could never say. 

Really, it was happy moment when I made the decision.  I know I have given my all to my children for nearly ten years now.  What they need from me is different now.  What I need is different.  I need to work, of course, and to stand on ridge tops, and to share what I have with others.  My world is getting bigger and smaller at the same time.  I am learning to be patient, to be okay with open ends, and to tie up others.

I always like to know where I am going, but that's not a part of things any more.  I can't explain it with any accuracy, but I guess it is a universal experience for this kind of thing.  It feels nearly impossible to tell people how I don't want my old life, how glad I am now, how so many old burdens have fallen away, and how the new responsibilities do feel like very heavy things.  I know what I have now, and where I have been.  Oh, that is so freeing and so terrifying. 

Monday, May 14, 2018


We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
. . .

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

~Maya Angelou :: "A Brave and Startling Truth"

A love of place seems to surround all I do lately.  I share places with people, like they are favorite songs or prized possessions.  I talk about places, I visit them, I avoid them, I cling to them, I daydream about them.  I lay myself bare to places.  I redefine them.  I walk into them with my fears cast aside, and then return when I am broken, seeking healing.

Even though I love the land, it is the people who have shared that land with me that give another level of meaning to my places.  My life has had some very deeply intense moments in it lately, ones that have taken every bit of bravery that I could muster.  This whole year has been so unexpected to me.  It seems everything I have know has been turned on its ear.

I have reached great heights, tall peaks with grand views, only to find myself in the valley all over again.  My heart feels as though it might burst.  I have to remember, even with all my topophilia, to keep going back to my places.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


I arise from rest with movements
swift as the beat of a raven's wings.
I arise to meet the day.

My face is turned from the dark of night
to gaze at the dawn of day,
now whitening in the sky.

~Iglulik Eskimo Poem :: Wassail! Wassail!  Early American Christmas Music

So many beautiful sunrises this week.  I have been listening to a lot of Glen Hansard and The Swell Season lately.  He's a wonderful live performer, and somewhere he said that happy days are often blank in journals.  I do some private writing these days, but I completely understand what he says.  There are things that are so hard to put into words.  All the same, I've felt some documentation was essential.  Pardon my silence and poetry, but know that I am so very happy.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Come wind, come rain, we're off again
Our muddy boots plod down the lane
The snow has snowed, now the grass has growed
And it's time that we were on the road

~ Vashti Bunyan

We took a little excursion with Katherine yesterday, up to Hidden Valley Lake.  The road to our beloved Laurel Bed Lake washed out in the Winter rains, so this was our consolation.  The area has more open views, but we stuck to the lake this time around.  I do hope to go back and take in the sights, and maybe that will happen this Summer.  All the same, our children enjoyed the very wet conditions and the plethora of tea berries growing by the woods.  They had games of hide and seek that ended with Laurel meeting up with the mire, but we cobbled together new clothes for her.  The battery on my car died, miles from anywhere, but I was able to flag down help on the lake road and we were soon on our way.  It was a beautiful day to break down and we were a merry bunch, in spite of it all.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gyspy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

~"Sea-Fever" ~ John Masefield :: As taken from The Waldorf Book of Poetry

The children saw the ocean for the first time on Sunday.  It was both new and old to me, as I hadn't been in such a very long time.  We camped right in front of the water at a place that goes back to my mother's childhood.  It was a trip that left me feeling torn--I was anxious to keep on with things here.  I knew getting away was needed, like the final step of a long walk or an intersection between trails.  I'll call it a pause, then, a chance to spend some time in daydream and reflection before getting back to work.

I'm now a "long walks on the beach" person, and I took one at the end of nearly every day.  I went under the guise of photographing my dad's kites in action.  The waves gave a wonderful backdrop to my own thoughts and small revelations.  I think people see my situation as a very sad one, but it isn't.  It's glaringly, staggeringly hope-filled.  I have to stop myself from running wildly into the future.

Coming back to the mountains, back to feeling "hemmed in" again, was emotional.  Willow teased me a little, but I do so love this place.  It really is forever a part of me, as much as some other places beckon me to visit.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

There's a place called Far-away Meadow
We never shall mow in again,
Or such is the talk at the farmhouse:
The meadow is finished with men.
Then now is the chance for the flowers
That can't stand mowers and plowers.
It must be now, through, in season
Before the not mowing brings trees on,
Before trees, seeing the opening,
March into a shadowy claim.
The trees are all I'm afraid of,
That flowers can't bloom in the shade of;
It's no more men I'm afraid of;
The meadow is done with the tame.
The place for the moment is ours
For you, oh tumultuous flowers,
To go to waste and go wild in,
All shapes and colors of flowers,
I needn't call you by name.

 ~"The Last Mowing" :: Robert Frost

My path to enlightenment is paved with waving grasses and the sweet violets of Spring.  It rained all week, setting the grass to seed and giving me a weekend full of mowing.  That's my primary work, at the moment.  A woman with a mower and a wide-brimmed hat.  If a man with a plow walked 5+ miles to an acre, well, I guess that's me, too.  I mowed the berry patch and peach orchard today, and I felt it looked like heaven.  The thick grass, the blooming trees, the promise of things to come.

I've been reading The Old Ways lately, a book about walking and places. Robert MacFarlane walks all manner of places, both local and abroad.  He talks at length about melancholic people walking to cope with the world.  I suppose it is my dream life.  I have been taking the other good weather time to see the wild places, alone and with the children.  I will walk my way to the sublime, whether it be on a gentle hillside or the shores of a lake.

I feel the strong need to be alone lately, like I could never get my fill of it, though I know I will.  I have been alone a long time, though this is new.  I guess what I want is privacy, the chance to have complete thoughts and get lost in daydreams.  I can see visions of my life to come and visions of the lives that once tended the places I mow.  I have been doing that a lot lately.  Some pictures are so clear, I hardly know what to do with them.  "Time will tell" is my new maxim.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Seven :: Gifts

On the day of your birth
You were given gifts,
The seeds of your own will,
To sow upon the earth,
That through your work
The seeds might grow
Into a fruitful garden
Protected by the Tree of Life
Whose branches hold up heaven.

Now your roots grip solid ground,
Glad to be alive.
Your head bears a golden crown
Like the sun that lights the sky.
Your breath weaves in and out
Like the ocean tides,
As the fountain of your heart
Sings the song of life.

You crossed the rainbow bridge,
You left your heavenly home
To walk the green, fruitful earth
Beneath the starry dome.
You know this is the place
To give all your gifts away,
Scattering them like golden seeds
Unfolding every day.
Seed-deeds ripen beneath the sun
Rooted in fertile will
To become the Bread of Life
When the seeds are milled.

~William Ward :: The Waldorf Book of Poetry