I’m of the mountains and valleys. On a hike I’ll often say; “Just a little bit further, let’s see over yonder.” I follow paths sometimes only I can see. They have secrets I want to explore. Discoveries to make. Sometimes it’s a waterfall in a slot canyon, a vantage point to spy on animal or a really impressive tree. I once found an old miner’s cabin and on a solo trip an entire lake! It was only Tuesday when I discovered the possibility of a new adventure. I remember it felt like forever for my day off to arrive. I took my cat, who thought she was a dog.
I drove up an old service road, then walked, shimmed, and crawled through the thickets until I crested a small ridge. The lake was small, more like a large pond, but I could see the outlines of what it had been. It was a place of eagles. I made a pouch for my cat out of my long shirt and tied it to my waist with her head sticking out. I didn’t want her to become a sacrifice. I fished the lake to see what was in it, only perch it seemed. I tossed them back in. The eagles can keep their perch and their secret lake. I’ll never go back or share the location. It’s for the eagles. I was only a guest. They were still on the endangered species list at the time, trying to recover from the long shadow of DDT pesticide use.
Sometimes, we humans, kill things with kindness. As I write this now in the year 2021, the Pine Siskin and other songbird populations are crashing. The Pine Siskins are going through an irruption and salmonella is spreading from bird feeder to bird feeder. It’s time to take them down, at least for now. Nature can rebalance when we let it. It needs space and time to heal, just as a wounded person.
When you kill a forest, you kill the magic within it. It destroys a sacred song. Until more people learn to harmonize better, some things will never be known to you. I’ve never feared for my safety in the forest; The monsters live in houses.
I used to practice getting lost, but my senses guide me to water and lower elevations. The trees never stop talking. There’s always something manmade to bump into unless you keep to the higher ridges and that is a conscious thought. It incurs intent.
The first time I flew from Washington to Florida the land below me became an ironed out Shar-pei, with Florida as it’s leg. (Shar-pei being both a wrinkled dog breed and Chinese for “sand-coated”) It was here that I felt lost. It was so flat! I felt like a mouse in a field looking for a place to hide. My future father-in-law said he knew the feeling; it was the feeling of “too much sky.” My future brothers-in-law took me to a terribly unfortunate named place called “the Devil’s Hopper” for elevation. It was there that I felt at home. What can I do but embrace my oddity? I’m the kind of person that feels at home in the bottom of a sinkhole. It seems ironically befitting. I’m a cat who needs a box, a fox who needs a hole, a dog who needs a den and an ant who needs a hill.
When I lay on my back under a clear night sky I am again overwhelmed with the feeling of “too much sky.” We are tiny creatures clinging to a rock. I’m grateful the sun rises every day and hides it all away from me.
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