When my heart begins to flutter like the fins of a hundred small fish with worry about the things I cannot control, I seek out wild places where words no longer matter. Where language is the drip of snowmelt, the rat-a-tat-tat of the early woodpecker, or the calling of the chickadee.
Today I explored a small corner of the several hundred acres of woodlands behind our house.
With Bean in the backpack I begin to climb, feeling his weight transfer to my hips. Soon I hear the thrumming of my heart in my ears, my cheeks flush hot, and my lungs find a new cadence as I as I move. At first Beanâ€™s small voice rings out clear among the stands of trees, branches still bare save for snow in nooks between limb and trunk, but soon he grows drowsy with the steady side-to-side movement of my gait, and drifts off to sleep. Then I hear his tiny breath whispering softly above my head.
I smell snow, metallic and sharp, and the tang of newly cut wood where someone has come before and cut away a tree fallen across the path. After a while, Iâ€™m not anywhere else. Just here, balancing on small stones to cross rushing streams where the water runs clear and cold and sparkling silt gathers in pools on the mud below. Just here, where everything is still, save for the dripping of snow melt falling from trees and the trilling of an occasional bird. Just here, where my muddy tracks cross the tracks of wild turkeys, then field mice, then a voleâ€™s. Many tracks I see are partly obscured in the slush, their edges melting.
I come to pool after pool of water, each like a piece of amber with last autumnâ€™s leaves glowing from below the surface. Snow fell yesterday here, and everything is saturated, slippery, muddy. Sometimes my shoes stick and as I pull my foot away, the mud sucks it back.
All around me is forest. Above me: a halo of delicate branches. A filigree. A vast network of capillaries: twigs running with sap, buds just forming everywhere. Most of the trees are youngâ€”small enough to wrap my arms around, wrists overlapping; but some maples have been here longerâ€”their trunks burly and split open, their gnarled branches reaching up thickly into the sky.
After a while I turn my attention to the worry in my bones and find it has melted with the snow. This is now. This is all I have. Moss adorned with water droplets, new shoots of green pushing up through wet snow. Here my heart is home and this is all that matters.
(p.s. I am feeling betterâ€”thank you for your kind thoughts. A day of rest was seriously needed. I may have spent most of yesterday asleep. I'm not sure. :)
Also, more pictures are here.)