You never know what you will encounter in your day. A person maybe who sets you off, a sight that makes you cry, an encounter that starts a new life for you. To meet the unknown is stepping into the mysterious.
The tree limb was part of a circle of limbs around a water filled center, with a dead limb sticking up next to the hole as if it had missed its point of entry and died. The magic of this madrone was not only apparent to me as it was sitting on a narrow saddle between mountain peaks, giving view to undulating forested valleys and peaks all around, the Siskyou crest across the way. Who would not want to have this view?
I have always known that there are other creatures in the wild. To see the clear fresh marks of claws ascending on this tree limb to a perch high up, brought home the enormity of this creature’s power as it must have struggled to hoist its - what, six hundred pound? - weight up the tree. The smooth skin of the madrone that invites contact and stroking against the palm of a hand, was gouged, red tree blood markings, skin ripped. Real life in real wilderness.
I saw an eight foot black bear scoot across the trail last year, on a down hill slope, big, hairy body streaking by, and I still wonder if I really saw it, it went by so fast. No wonder that people have thought about Sasquatch, a mythical creature, Big foot, the hairy one, when they encounter evidence of an unseen or hard to see moving being. When humans meet the wild there is a shadow of the unreal, the mythical that passes over.
Seeing this Madrone, I met that mythical creature and bow to its realm. Leave it be, save its habitat, so I can keep believing in the impossible. So I can have encounters that change me.
What is your relationship with the place you live in? Do you ignore it, hate it, take it for granted? Or do you appreciate the place, work to maintain it?
When I met the man who became my husband, I felt that I had come home to myself, that I could be just who I was. I was loved for who I was. It was a precious experience that lasted twenty-five years. That feeling of coming home to myself has been given back to me in a different way.
I have fallen in love with the place I live in, again. More consciously this time, since I had a choice, an easy move out to the big city, a divorce of sorts. I chose to stay. Not that all my needs are met by this place, but does any relationship?
This place looks lush, lasciviously so. The energy of spring, youth, is shining through, although I know the dry face of summer, the wrinkled one of fall is just around the corner. I am soaking up the youthful green, there is a spring in my step. I forget about the time as my feet step on the trails and my hands dig in the nooks and crannies of her soil. I place seeds, I add humus, I re-arrange her weedy hairs and make her my most beautiful. I rest in her warmth on a hillside and feel embraced.
I give this place my attention. I support this place financially. I advocate to advance her existence, to secure the specialness of this place.
In return this place gives me the quiet I crave, the variation of weather, and landscape my restless mind can engage with, my body can tire itself into giddy exhaustion. I can find these things in other places where I travel, but none have given me the sense of coming “home” to myself as this one does.
Let the place you live in, court you, embrace you, and give you a feeling of home. It takes only a moment of sitting down on a stone, looking out over a rooftop, hearing a bird sing, feeling the rain on your head and saying YES, this is my place! It’s free to have and hold. If, by chance, you take that moment and find you canNOT say YES, do what it takes to get out of there, find another relationship, one you can call home.
Short as life is, you gotta love it.
Travel for business is about making money. It brings up visions of long days on the road, in the air, in stuffy conference rooms, sterile hotel rooms at night, swished away by drinks at a dark mahogany bar, or a lousy meal at yet another greasy diner. Travel for business is about putting yourself out there, learn from the customer base, putting your own needs aside to serve the greater good of your business. This kind of travel serves the economy. Does it serve the greater good of this planet? To save the planet from overheating, overusing, we need to think about living local, making a smaller footprint.
The big, wide open spaces I saw in Eastern Oregon several weeks ago, where the grazing room seems endless, where the nomad in me wakes up, is getting smaller and smaller. There were only five male sage grouse doing their mating dance at the crack of dawn, instead of the expected twenty. No females in sight. Endless sage covering the wide open spaces, interspersed by white alkali lakes, without water.
Where is the water?
The Everest glacier I walked on 44 years ago has shrunk by 13%
I read about the last unmapped space on this planet, the Tsangpo river canyon in the Himalayas. It was explored and mapped in 1998.
People have been everywhere, found what there is to find, exhausted resources thought endless, left their footprint in the most remote regions of this planet.
My Ladakhi friend Karma said, “why shouldn’t I want to leave here, adopt your Western ways? You come and spend a winter here, locked in a house without running water, eating barley and cabbage, experiencing frigid temperatures that can’t be kept outside of these walls because fire wood is so sparse, and then we will talk again. “
He is right. I have the means to live in a lush valley, with relatively mild winter temperatures. I turn on the heat to warm myself. I turn on the tap to water my garden, wash my face, boil my tea. For how much longer?
Travel has made me aware that the world is changing. Travel has changed me. To survive, I will turn off the tap, grow vegetables, ride my bike to the store.
I will write about transformation and travel in a smaller frame, the travel of daily living, of surviving in a world that is no longer endless, no longer endlessly abundant.