wide awake and wild

elk3
I took one small step closer, cautious, curious and completely aware that all he had to do was take one powerful leap in my direction to spear me with those handsome antlers of his. His watchful, deep black eyes were on me. Though his munching jaws would seem to say that he could care less about my presence, we both knew better.
elk

This was the first of three encounters I had with wild animals this past weekend. The second was with the Gray Jay. We were over 9500ft. high having snowshoed nearly 2 hours into the southern heart of the Rocky Mountains. There was no wind, just the blinding whiteness that comes with fresh snowfall. The sound of our feet in deep snow and my breathe from climbing in it provided the haunting rhythm to keep placing one foot in front of the other. It was not an easy climb to Emerald Lake, but when we reached it, I understood wholly the meaning of the phrase “deafening silence”. Surrounded by jagged spears of rock resembling a crown, I would have fallen to my knees in reverence had I not already felt dwarfed in the mountain’s majesty.

emeraldlake2
(If it helps to understand scale in this novice photo, please look at the tiny black dot at the base of the mountains on the right. That dot is a person.)

Grayjay

After a few awe-inspiring minutes of quiet, I was startled by a low swoosh that came from behind and flew directly above my head. She landed on a branch 15 feet from me, looked at me while cocking her fluffy head, imploring me to see her, to be mindful of her. She wanted my attention and she found it. She posed left, then right, then looked at me again to make sure I was still watching. I worked quickly to get my camera out again, but she waited patiently, long enough for me to rattle off at least 10 shots before she flew back in the direction she came from. She, like the Elk, felt tame in ways that didn’t seem plausible. An unspoken language passed between us, one that I had forgotten, one that I might have understood again if I could have stayed there in that space with her just a little longer.

grayjay2

The last encounter was with two foxes. My husband spotted them first on our return to Rocky Mountain National Park the next morning. They were fast and they were less willing to take chances with a human like the other two. I jumped out of the car with the camera and ran to the edge of the meadow that they had run into. I followed them with my lens, first one, then two, too far to get good details thanks to the autofocus on my camera. There was no time to switch to manual, no time to play with light and catch the glint in their mysterious eyes. They were gray and they were very smart, dancing along and pacing the meadow, watching me to see what I would do next. They never left or ran away too far. As I walked back to the car, they got closer, comfortable with knowing that I was leaving their domain, their protected space that I was invading, that we all invaded long ago.

twofoxes

fox1

These wild animals are medicine to me, a balm to the coldness that comes with our reality and domestication. Once I dip in and wander among the messages these creatures provide, I find myself in the folds of something bigger. I awaken knowing that we are not so different. We are both dependent on the environment that surrounds us, both dependent on the the earth that provides for us, both hungering for a language that connects us all, both free and not free, bound by instinct, duty and limitations, both extremely fragile and weak at the helms of the unknown.

On a crystal clear yet windy morning, on our last snowshoe trail in the tall pines and bare-boned trees, I found a mark on an aspen, a mark left by someone that did not know it would be meant for me. I stopped to pull off my gloves and dug for the cameraphone in my snowpants pocket. A wind gust rushed in lifting the snow off their feet to sparkle and swirl in the air behind, just in time for me to take the shot. And I did take it, all of it. I am not sure when I will be back there again, but I will remember. I will remember how it felt to be wide awake and wild with the spirit of the earth.

MJtree

much love to you fellow earthwalkers…
xoxo

moonlighting

milk

In the white and milky moonlight,
in the shallow and seemingly subtle cracks,
the stories lay thick in layers from one day to the next,
accumulating, unwritten and unread
like old magazines in the corner of the closet.

If I could close the door and crouch in silence,
hide with the dark and peel the vibrant colors off the walls and onto pages,
would the words be more pungent?
Could this be the yellow sulphur that leaps
to burn the eyes and nose?

They beckon, the calls, and
flit about like gnats on a hot, sticky night.
The tick tock of the mother clock
goes on,
spooling the yearn into a tight embrace,
saved for some later time
and some distant space.

A deeper question permeates—
if all I had was what I always wanted
would it really give me all that I need?

The sincere mother’s wishes are unfooled.
From nature’s pulse, a whisper beneath the lobe
“All you have is all you need
and the Want must stand alone.”

for all who moonlight and have a distant dream:
wherever you can, whenever you can, however you can

xoxo

Unhinge

mug

It’s 6:39am. All ten fingers curl around my mug made of clay, sun and moon. A soy latte the color of a soaken mudpie warms my throat before sliding down into my belly. On a perfect day, there is no rush, no urgency to shower or wake the children. I am free to tiptoe down the stairs to the yellow cave I call my own, the very yolk that encases and feeds my hungry soul. Three jars of colored pens line the top edge of my reclaimed, white desk and the sight of them brings a tingling to my waking fingers. I imagine a thumping tail, a wet nose, and playful fur sprouting from my current journal, as happy and expectant as any dog about to receive some attention.

These are the moments of quiet freedom, before I check email, before I give the cat his weekly sulphur bath and shot, or meet the accountant, or grocery shop or whatever it is that defines this human life. A soul’s life unravels in the quiet, unbuttoning of this skin, where nakedness is synonymous with the unfolding of wings, where thought is not led by the bully intellect but by the gentle voice of intuition. No pause she says, just flight.

painted pixels

I have seen the flinted sparks of a once unfathomable future begin to glow in this cave. With guidance from this and this, and from one that lives and breathes the same spaces I do (thanks hon), I find myself believing, and suddenly aware of a craving that I now know has always been there. Fear can strap you to a gurney with arms, legs, and heart bound by your own beliefs. The challenge, always, is to find those beliefs that bind you and unhinge them. I find myself unhinging them continually because they cling, they cling desperately to a definition that existed long ago, because to redefine self would be stepping into a dark blue, unknown void. There is no preparation to be in this place, just an awareness that without all the heavy, soaked-in stains of our past, our skin suddenly feels wild, translucent, vulnerable, and unequivocally free.

mayaangelou

much love to you…

xoxox