We went for a short hike yesterday along a river through the wetlands and a mixed-wood forest. The ground felt springy and damp from the previous day's rain, padded with needles from pines and spruces. Mushrooms, lined the trail, among the punky rotting trunks of fallen logs. Cattails grew thickly in the bogs, and the in the fields Purple Loosestrife and Queen Anne's Lace and Goldenrod.
It was Bean's first time in the Sherpani backpack we got for him. And his eyes were wide as DH moved along the trail under low hanging branches, past bright berried bushes, and overgrown thickets of ferns. We want him to grow up with the deep love for the outdoors that we share. We want him to grow up feeling like he belongs to the earth: that he is a part of it, not separate from the wildness of the beaver or the dragonfly.
Walking in the woods always fills me with a certain reverence. Watching mallards move across murky pond water, or fawns picking their way silently like shadows amongst the trunks of trees helps me to find my place again. Lines from Mary Oliver's poem
rise up in my mind, like the bubble trails left by beavers.
As I walk along behind DH and Bean, noticing the muddy path, the sweet air, the zing of mayflies and the deep washboard croak of the bullfrog, it is easier to remember to be gentle with myself. The dappled sunlight and smooth water make it easier to locate stillness in my being. To suck in big gulps of air and feel grateful.
I've been contemplating gratitude lately. Contemplating what it means to live with an awareness for the immense gift of life, despite the turmoil of it. Gratitude for good food and health and joy---but also gratitude for loss and complication and confusion. I've been working on the piece about my father again, and was astounded last night to realize that I've written probably six or seven different drafts and nearly twenty single spaced pages. I am trying now to gather them up, and turn them into something that speaks to others, that gives in it's telling something more than a story of grief.