walking

This time of year, I am not here. My mind is in another place, a place that settles me, the road and the Southwestern U.S. It’s a place of refreshment, rejuvenation, energy, love, challenge, and a place that is bigger than me. It reminds me of my place, my smallness. Every moment seems a blessing whether it be spotting a canyon wren or watching a turquoise bellied lizard do push-ups on a rock. It unlocks all the emotion and experience locked inside and sets it free, so I feel unburdened, forgiven, and whole. Alas, we won’t be going on our once annual sojourn to the tall sandstone canyons and sagebrush plains. For a while, this made me incredibly sad.

I went for a walk yesterday morning to a nearby city park surrounding a lake. Much of it remains wild, with many native plants and animals. Mostly, it’s an excellent place to observe the migratory birds over the course of a year(s). The walk lightened my heart and outlook as I crossed the bridge that travels through the willow tops soft green with new leaves and over a marsh. On the second bridge, which sets a good 12 feet over the second marsh, I observed and heard red-winged blackbirds calling in their vibrato sing-song. A path, then, skirts both the back pond as well as the main lake on which floated mallards, pie-billed grebes, and coots. A coot happily labored amongst the lilies looking for just the right stalk to paddle back to its nest with. The opposite side of the pond created a backdrop for the blue heron standing tall and still over its nest. Finally, as I stood to see if any turtles might appear on a distant log, a healthy gray squirrel skittered up and beseeched me for a little nibble.

This, I thought, was the climax and began ambling towards the first bridge and home. While I have encountered this fine being before, I don’t often think of it. A small hawk, Cooper’s or Swainson’s, chipped at me from a Douglas fir. It was very close, but too obscured for me to identify it. Home, now. Home, then, felt so much bigger and life full of possibility. A weight had been lifted, and, though the day looked like it ought to be dreary, it felt bright. All of me felt connected to everything, and I felt grateful for (most) everything around me.

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