Mountains on My Mind

I dream of a woodland retreat.

A mountainous oasis.

Walking in the forest

Bathing in nature

as the green canopy of hardwood trees

sways and sings.

My boots help me find my way.

I pause and listen to a rushing stream.

As I  leap onto slippery and misshapen rocks,

I pray for balance.

I lean toward the outstretched hand of my son,

who seems to have danced on the water.

His fording is eased by the length of his body.

I long to be more limber and less awkward.

  My backpack hugs my body

I feel oddly at ease with its great weight.

 As I take deep, deep breaths,

I feel the tension slough off my body.

Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The long granite beds replace the scrambled boulders.

Another summit

Another Celebration

We rest upon them and gaze into Infinity

At one with the Divine

 

Day 6: In 12 days I head north.  My spirit yearns for cooler altitudes and time with my tribe. The photo is from a hike to Camel’s Hump in Vermont that Emily and I completed. I have yet to write about that day!  One of the most mentally challenging in my life…

Safe Places

 

Is home just a place to live?  Is it just a place where we feel most safe?  Is it a place that makes us feel most strong? Is it a feeling, a desire, to be our authentic self? My ultimate desire, my safest place-my querencia- is to be at or near the mountains. Walking in the woods. Pausing to listen to a rushing stream. Jumping rocks to cross to the other side. My backpack hugging my body. My boots helping me find my way. Time is suspended here. Distractions are few. Troubles fade. Hopes soar and the Divine presents itself.

Last summer, I completed my first solo day hike. I had not told anyone of my plans ahead of time. I told my sons the morning I was leaving. I knew the men in my life would try to discourage me, not because of my lack of ability but because of safety.  But jerks exist off the trail and the mountain was one I knew well, having climbed it twice before.

The hike is easy enough, with some hopping over stream beds and slight switchbacks. It doesn’t take long for the sounds of the parkway that cuts through the notch to dissipate. I remember the heaviness of the summer air that day. It didn’t take me long to work up a sweat. My legs easily climbed up and over tree roots. I stopped to pause now and then to take in the green canopy of hardwood trees. I took deep, deep breaths, grateful that the air I was taking in filled me with peace. Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The higher I climbed, the more I felt the tension slough off my body. Each step made me feel lighter. I felt nothing but joy as I moved closer to the summit. With this mountain, you know you are getting closer. The sky comes into view above and the long granite slabs replace the dark dirt and fallen leaves on the trail.  Suddenly-it seemed- I reached the top. A long granite bed greeted me with views of four mountains in three directions. The ledges have steep dropoffs.  I gaze into infinity when I look below.

I am alone at the summit but not lonely. I am filled with wonder and awe as I am reminded of the love I have for these mountains. I leave the summit with a renewed strength and the affirmation that this is home.

Long-Lost Equinox

Autumn Leaves

A rampage of  passionate pigments

A seasonal swan song

A long last life’s breath of viridian showings

before your shivering branches consent to a dance

in the November winds

Laying themselves bare

A brazen bold maple awaits its winter slumber

Watching while we rake the sepia remains

from the hills and green grass ways

beneath its outstretched arms

Autumn:

A lingering farewell to the year’s most scintillating suitor

An affaire de Coeur

Transitory and temporary and tempestuous

Till we meet again…

Day 23.  I am out of season, I know. I missed Fall in 2016 so a colleague who was making the trip up North came back with the leaves and rock captured in the image. Autumn in New England is something to behold. I took a photo because I knew the brilliance wouldn’t last long, much like a passionate love affair. I still have the leaves and rock:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Home on Mother Earth

 

            The Atlantic Ocean on the shores of Plum Island, MA in December

We stood at the shoreline on a cold early winter day

drinking in the brilliant blues of water and sky

Love was born here on a windy November afternoon

our hearts just beginning to open once again

Looking north, we reimagined the sandy altar

where our vows were taken

It was June

a day much the same in its splendor

The early summer air kissing us with its warmth

The feel of the earth under our bare feet fed our souls

Still, there is nothing like the weight and protection of boots that help carry us over boulders and root-ridden paths

Welch-Dickey looking west

We stop and put our hands in a snow melted stream

amazed at its crystal clear color

Its extravagant cold causes us to sigh in gratefulness

Love grows here on the bare bluffs and falling waters

Arethusa Falls

When we climb in April, we arrive in time for Spring’s rebirth

as we once again mark our own

Seasons change but our zeal for hiking never wanes

Summer flora at the bottom of Artist’s Bluff, Franconia Notch, NH

The mountains await us

Mount Lafayette, Franconia Notch, NH

 

 

Day 22. A poem to honor Earth Day and pay homage to the March for Science. We went to a nearby Arbor Festival and came away with 2 more plants for the butterfly garden and a bougainvillea tree.

Mountain Crawl


Easter rose

We alighted to nature’s sanctuary

Our place of peace and resurrection

Away from the egg hunting crowds and feasted tables of obligation

The route took a detour

The conditions too muddy

A sure sign of Spring in mountainous country

A quick check on the GPS found a return to the ledge ridden twins of Welch-Dickey

We could not afford to be too picky!

Granite slabs in various conditions

Some slick with snow melt made the ascent a chore

 Forcing at times a climb on all fours

Still others were bone dry

 Standing straight in momentum

Surely we could fly!

Then what looked to be easy was deceptively so

As we found ourselves down on our backsides in the snow

Trails puddled and muddy

Leaf covered and ruddy

Narrow passages filled with slippery slush

Our day grow longer than we would have planned

 Yet it was worth it, as it ended with beers in our hands

Day 17. I should be asleep. The hike was exhausting but absolutely fantastic! Our original hike to Morgan-Percival had to be cancelled due to muddy conditions. We returned to another spot which was hard the first time due to rainy conditions. For some reason we thought it we be easier this time around. Not so much! My last full day here in New  England with my sons. Both boys were along for the trek today with blessed Izzy with us as well. My oldest gets the Mountain Goat award!

Unburdened

The final resting place for the uncommon

Though only in body

Dust and tinges of bone remain

beneath the knobby spring terrain

Markers bearing just a snippet of an earthbound vitality

Entry and Exit

Beloved wife

Former headmaster

Dedicated alum

Distinctive author

Her verse exposed this land’s second original sin

Time-worn graves

mossy and copper stained virescent words, faded

An existence forgotten

These spirits rattle and hum

The sound carried in the first season’s whipping winds

I settle in to listen

Day 15.  A walk and a picnic in a campus cemetery. Spring is just beginning to speak.

Hometown Run

Image result for hills in andover ma

Photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor (Ward Hill Reservation)

The brisk  mid morning air rushed at my bare arms and legs

The nip a welcome amazement

A bit of bliss

I smile as if kissed

My heart in full surge

Feeling the urge

An unquenched desire to move through the breeze

The hills, rises, and turns feeling familiar once again

The tower bell tolled ten

Its chime a reminder of a lost moment

and the comforting rhythm to our days

 I cross at the light

forgetting the long span of street that lay ahead

Houses and yards void of winter’s white

Daffodils and crocuses rounding out the renewing green of lawns and red  brick pathways

The downhill speeds my pace-

I am used to its more arduous climb, not its effortless decent

I turn on the road where the cemetery lies in the grove

My legs just starting to slightly suffer

I approach a rare flat surface

Relief briefly in store

A left turn into town

Churches white-steepled, granite stoned and russet brick

One last incline then the finish

The high road to where the boys now call home

Day 14: Already Running, Hanging and Cooking with family and friends.