While visiting his bluish-gray house, the one with the big garden, smoky fireplace and yard made for croquet, my father used to take us for treks across the potato field into the forest to the river to skip stones. Years before that, he walked us through the daisy field, past the horses, into the paths that led to the river to race juice box sailboats. I don’t think of the one or two walks he took me on at the house Judy still lives. He never made it back from his last one.
When we were little, my father used to take us into the woods to talk, to look for animals, to teach us things about nature and survival, to wear us out. No matter the season, it was a weekly occurence and the memory of these walks remain steadfast in my little box of memories of him, stored in the back of my head for safe keeping.
I always think fall reminds me most of him because we loved the fall together. But then winter comes and though I hate it, it’s when I think I’m comforted most by the weather…if seasons and weather were ever things that comforted one’s grief.
I thought of this first on the walk we took Christmas morning. At first, I am just walking, crunching, cautiously trudging straight ahead. And then somewhere along the way, The Calm comes, slowly, slowly, I can feel it come over me and fill me top to bottom and I can feel him, and I can feel myself change and I am not worried or distracted or angry or happy even. I am just settled. Settled and sure that if I were to name one place in the world I would go to find the answers I need, it would be the forest and it would be during winter.
The woods, the winter and all the whiteness, the bitter cold of it all, the impenetrable blanket of silence, it always brings me three things and they go in order. (the pictures I painted myself, this week when I was bored..aren’t you lucky?)
Release. The only hope I have sometimes of not losing.my.shit. Unleashing the frustration and anger and boredom and guilt and grief and inner monster that is heather.losing.her.shit. You have to be able to let go somewhere to start all over again. Right?
Peace. I don’t typically do things that make one “centered” or at peace with themself…like yoga or meditating or reiki or whatever other voodoo magic the kids are doing these days to be spiritual and ok with life. I do know that when I’m in the woods, though, especially when surrounded by the tranquil, white blanket I think is forgiveness, I feel pretty alright with myself, the world and everything seems just a little less crazy. <
Hope. It’s like the year round version of Christmas magic. It allows people to believe in something bigger. I think when you’re down and out, at your very, very worst, it might be the only thing that keeps you going. And that’s what I feel when I’m walking out of the woods, back into the noise and real world. Hopeful. Hopeful that today is not my best day, but at the very least, it’s one more day.
So. There is my serious weekend post, my child-like art, and my thought that if some of us need an alternative to religion, we turn to nature. Which should be its own religion, really.