Stirring in the lush light of the morning
Dreaming and Waking
The ceiling fan capturing memories of our melded mingling
Slicing the thickening air
Skin still steaming
We’re tangled and tangy in these sweet-smelling sheets
Do you have Strong Woman Syndrome?
Stirring in the lush light of the morning
Dreaming and Waking
The ceiling fan capturing memories of our melded mingling
Slicing the thickening air
Skin still steaming
We’re tangled and tangy in these sweet-smelling sheets
Sunday morning dawned perfectly. Cool, slightly humid and cloudy. My youngest son and my closest friend were headed up to the mountains for the day. I had spent the previous few days picking out a location and preparing the gear and gorp for the trip. I was confident and excited; the hike was considered “moderate” and we had options to attempt other trails in the vicinity as time and energy allowed.
As we pulled into Emily’s driveway, her gorgeous black lab stood at the doorway. He is a special dude as far as labs go and I thought it would be great for him to join us. He was unsure of where he was going (new car and why is Mom with me in the back seat?) but was quite delighted when we stopped at what was to be our first spot for the day.
Much to our surprise, the trail that we were originally going to start out on was inaccessible due to a bridge wash out. The woman at the desk gave us an alternative destination where we could pick up the trail a few miles up the road. Now, when you get to this part of the mountains, you have to do a lot of traveling in one direction in order to turn around to get to the other side of the road. This should have been an omen for the rest of the trip, but hey we were prepared, we could go with the flow. Time was on our side anyway.
After parking and checking our gear and the map, we set off. The dog was having a good time with the exception of the fact that he would bark at hikers coming from the opposite direction (it was his first hike-still a pup at 18 months despite his 75 pound size). Soon, however, he became distracted by the presence of another dog whose company he kept for the remainder of our hike to our destination.
We were feeling just fine, having hiked for about 1.6 miles over fairly easy terrain. I was looking at the map when another hiker peered over my shoulder to sneak a peek at possibilities for him and his kids. As we were chatting, my son gave me his secret signal- “You wanna try for the summit?” said his eyes. And if you know my friend Emily, you know she is always up for an adventure.
Now, I had already knew that the trail took on what was described to be a “rock scramble” as it got closer to the summit. Never mind the fact that it was also a 4,000 footer ( the Easter hike was 3,755). Of course, we had no idea what the rock scramble was actually like; but in these parts, climbing large slabs of granite are par for the course. Plus, time was on our side anyway.
So we set off into ignorant bliss. We were working hard, the sweat sharing space nicely between our backpacks and backsides, soaking our hair and dripping from our chins. The trail grew loud with a silence so rare that we stopped for a bit to listen.
And then the going got a bit tougher. Huge, somewhat slick slabs with gaps between. Not too hard for a human but terrifying for our four-legged friend. At first the beast (as he is lovingly called from time to time), would stop to think about his next move. But after one too many of these, he decided that he’d had enough. He started to walk back down the trail! We managed to get him back and we commenced a new means of getting him through the rough bits. We thought by showing him how to get up, he would follow along. This did work for a while but then he would stop again.Then Emily lifted his front paws onto the rock followed by his hefty rear. I don’t remember how long this went on but it became a series of stops and starts with my son taking over the role of the Dog Whisperer. Between Emily’s heavy lifting and my son’s sweet encouragement, the dog began to gain confidence.
And then the moment of absolute doubt and absolutely no turning back. The big boy just sat. Tired. Ready to give up. My son had climbed a few yards ahead, relaying the news that the next bunch of rocks were sideways.
Impossible for the dog. A risky possibility for us. Other hikers were descending at this point, having completed the summit from a much more difficult trail with ladders!!
They were certainly feeling the challenge of the descent and were not heartened by the news of what lay ahead just as were equally discouraged by the lack of a good trail alternative. They suggested we take the tram down for the dog’s sake. (We were truly fine physically but exhausted mentally and the idea was tempting.)
As we were pondering our possible fates, the party that was at the lake caught up to us and brought with them it a bright spot of encouragement. First, a way to bushwack through the woods and second, a mere 500 feet to the summit!
Once again, the butt lifting began, with me holding the leash, sitting down in case the dog pulled and sent me rock bouncing. Success! He made it to me as I quickly handed the leash to the Whisperer and began a series of slow twists upward in order to right my body for the remainder of the climb. The walk in the woods was easy and we were relieved that the summit was within reach while at the same time feeling a bit nagged about the descent.
My son and I climbed the summit tower with views that were stunning and affirming of why we like to hike.
The dog rested and drank a bit, observing the endless “tourists” who arrived via the tram. This particular mountain is overwhelming popular in winter as a skier’s destination (one of many in the area) and the tram is put to full use in season by those who love the sport.
I have to confess here that I could not turn off the voice in my head about the dog not being allowed on the tram. But I did not to speak out loud about it until we knew for sure. We took the short walk over into the noise of fast food, a bar and seemingly endless people. Sure enough, no dogs allowed and no real help from one of the operators about a good way to get down. Until… a wonderful man who works at the food counter suggested we go down a ski trail that while longer, we get us closer to where we wanted to go.
Now, I know hiking is not allowed on these trails, but I had a feeling that 1) he felt sorry for us and 2) this might be one they suggest to desperate hikers off the record! Going down the trail only validated why I don’t ski; you have no choice but to go fast for long periods of time at the whim of gravity. But the dog was great and we got down in an hour.
And there we stood at the base lodge. Thinking about hitching a ride, then ditching the idea. We started to walk ‘south’ to the car hoping to find a path. We came upon a state park and asked directions but the teenage girl only confused us and we only confused her. ( In reality, she knew what she was talking about!) She did suggest we take the bike path, warning us that they don’t usually let pedestrians on it (second time in one day we bent the rules).
Onward we trudged. Anxious for the end. We came to the inevitable fork in the road. Right or left? Which way is south? No sun to act as a guide. The notch’s highway above a beacon of hope. We go left. It starts to rain. The path is eerily quiet with just one viewing of a cyclist.
Next, a beautiful bridge with a view of a 5,000 footer my son wants to climb some day.
And then I realize something is not quite right. If we were going south, the mountain would be behind us on the other side of the bridge! We go back and forth about this for a bit, walking further, then stopping to get out my phone.
Now you may be wondering why we didn’t use any of our phones in the first place. Truth is, we thought we were going in the right direction. Plus, I am not in the habit of using it as a GPS regularly; it never crossed my mind. Until now. And we were so wrong.
At this point, Emily was ready to sit at the park with the dog while we walked back to the car. A seven minute drive and probably a 30 minute or so walk. Then she spies a group of 3 people and their dog. She walks quickly toward them yelling “Excuse me, excuse me!” She explains the situation and they happily offer us a ride. Of course, they can only fit 2 of us in the car with their dog so my son and I agree to hop in with these complete strangers who looked like they dropped out of the sixties. Beads, bare feet, flowing clothes and a cold bottle of wine in one of their backpacks that was clearly being consumed by just one of them. Her glassy eyes and dreamy look were a dead give away.
I am realizing as I write that this is the first occasion in which I have accepted a ride with strangers! Possible dire scenarios streamed through my head but I had to dash them and trust nothing bad would happen. Plus, my son is big and strong and tough. Nothing like good physical reassurance!
Penny and her brood were nothing but sweet and when I mentioned that my son probably would love a beer now, the younger woman offered some of her wine. He politely declined as we made small talk about memories in the mountains.
At last we arrived back at the car (actually in 7 minutes!). We said our goodbyes only to be heartily greeted by two other strangers who were hanging out at the car next to ours. We were quite confused and were thinking that maybe something happened to the vehicle. Something did; but not what we expected. The gentleman handed us a note that he was going to leave us if we didn’t come off the mountain soon. Here’s what he wrote:
I am apparently an idiot! It is my gear in your backseat. I though it was my friend’s car, and when her keys wouldn’t work, I apparently locked it, then went to ask her what the secret was to getting her car started. My car keys are in the pack, so I am stuck here. Please call me at xxx xxx xxxxx to try and connect.
My son and I burst out laughing. Nancy and Dan were relieved. Of course, of all things, we had forgotten to lock the car up! All of our valuables were with us, thankfully. This incident just added to another set of unexpected events. Once Dan got his gear, they invited us down the road to his car for a beer (see, wishes for a 21 year old can come true!). We explained our situation and told him we would join him in half an hour.
We hit the Notch highway hard, trying to remember which exit to get off. Nothing looked familiar but a sign on the right indicated to me that we overshot the one we wanted. We quickly got off doing 60 mph in a 50 zone, found a turn around and head south once again. Tires were definitely squealing as my son righted the car ( another 21 year old’s wish come true I suppose!).
At last we found Emily and the beast! We told her our new tale and of the invite. She was game of course! The clock said happy hour anyway. We got to Dan and Nancy quickly, relaxing with a PBR and Long Trail, swapping stories and relaxing before the long ride home.
On the drive back, we reflected upon our day, at first thinking “Well if we hadn’t decided to go to the summit or “if we hadn’t decided to bring the dog”…. But really that is just silly. We were safe. We had plenty of fuel and gear. We were physically fit. The decisions led to us to one of the region’s more beautiful vistas, a sense of accomplishment and meetings with perfect strangers who helped us remember that most of humankind is generous and good.
I’ve been thinking a lot about connections lately. Connections to people, places, things. Ideas and dreams. Hopes and wishes. My life has been beautifully busy since the start of summer. No time to write or read my favorite blogs. I have been out in the world soaking up moments and memories. Even as I write this, I am in between events. ( It’s the Fourth of July after all!)
My connection to my adult hometown is breathing its last breaths. This will be my last full summer before I marry and move to a whole new zip code and climate. Even so, I am not really spending much time at the house. Last week saw me in the mountains with my fiance’ and some of his family. I had spent time as a youngster and young adult hiking in the region, a mere two hour drive from my town. Last time I was there was a decade ago in wholly different incarnation (married with adolescent children). I recall a brilliant and grueling hike-one of the few bright spots that trying summer (see The Summer I’d Like to Forget). The 4 days in my present life were jammed packed with movement in the great outdoors, running and hiking and horseback riding for the girls. We were nestled in a cozy farm inn; its lack of pretense and absence of noise adding to our relaxing moods and quiet conversations.
Back at home, we’re relishing the heat (for the most part!). Late and leisurely suppers in the backyard, a small bonfire, watching the deer and catching fireflies. I’ll miss these things and that southerly breeze that flows in my back window by the kitchen sink.
Today, I sit and write in the heat of the tropics. Funny how the summer’s sultriness here forces people inside for relief much the same way the winter’s bitter chill and darkness does up north.
Independence Day was a just right celebration. A cookout with my dad at the grill, the meal shared with happy strangers who quickly became familiar. No need for best behavior! Amusing conversation was the centerpiece of the day (along with this outrageous roasted pineapple guacamole, YUM!). Later, fireworks at the beach and nature’s own lightning show.
I am still straddling two worlds. The campfires burn strongly in both places and that is perfectly fine with me.
I decided to combine two of Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompts since I missed last week’s. Hope you enjoyed this complete stream of consciousness drabble!
Stumbling in a dreamscape
Sleep deprived nights illusively hot
Sweat soaked skin
A body in transition
Transforming and chaotic
A new morning brings a new view
Changing perspective, acceptance
There’s a strength to these bones
Muscles and sinew firmed
Mind honed by wisdom
Still, I prepare myself
This new day brought a tremor to my hands
A churning fire to my gut
An inner knowledge borne of past trauma
I dress adorned with a fetching scarf that sings of summer
Alluring and potent
My voice proven right
You’ve been seen once again in that store front distance
Yet grace has given me my covert protector
He whispers quietly and holds me in his gaze
You approach and graze my arm with yours
Attempting to establish dominance
A marking of territory
Such a fool of a man
Desperate and Depraved
Lonely but not Alone, not quite
Yet still without awareness and tact
Your false bravado rebuffed and refused by this half century warrior queen
Transcended and Ascended
Fully realized, Divinely Inspired
Living at the Apex of her new Incarnation
Sitting here in an early June quiet. The days have finally grown into a full warmth. This late spring surge of sun has distracted me from my writing. We cut grass, plant flowers that will last well into early fall, lay down mulch. Fret over carpenter bees boring holes in the upper eaves at the back of the house (I need a 25 foot ladder to reach them). Douse the paper wasp nest with chemicals before it outgrows the strength of our spray can. Stain the long neglected front porch a luscious mahogany red while noticing that we need new risers. The rails need a fresh coat of white. The north side of the house looks tired. Long winters and years of just plain wear are evident at this direction of the house’s compass. I try not to worry about the expense of repairs and send out intentions of abundance to the universe.
A year from now, this house will be my sons’ domain. Rented with others in order to afford payments. We are shifting gears. Learning to be present in a major life transition. Sharing in the pulls and tugs of the here and now as we move into the there and then. Keeping our eyes wide open while we let go of the old life little by little. We are all making our way into an independent dynamic. There is much to do before my wings take flight. I send out more intentions-ones where I hope to avoid the vortex of panic and anxiety. A friend says “Don’t be afraid to pray for big things.” So I do.
For now, I am staying in this moment. Sitting up in bed, nearly ready for sleep. The house is empty except for me. The crickets are back and the night breeze is full. Cool and cleansing, sort of a northern climate mini spa in my mind. I look forward to refreshing dreams and a new morning sun.
“Listen to yourself. And in that quietude you will hear the voice of God”
– Maya Angelou
So which one to write about? Which one to reveal? Which one do I remember? Which one have I forgotten ’til now? Which one really counts?
Teenage curiosity and innocent lust are more apt descriptions from the summer of ’76. A week at the lake with other families. Days when we never got out of our bathing suits until dinner. Dancing to the music of the Guess Who. Blown away by Peter Frampton. Wiffle ball games just before sunset. When darkness fell, the older folks gathered for their nightly card games while we put pennies in the pot for Michigan Rummy. One night the lights went out and I found myself kissing him. A cousin of a friend. And that’s all there was. A small crush that lasted less than a week. Vacation was over and we all went home. I’ve heard about him from time to time over the years. Turns out he lives in the same valley region as me. I understand he’s had similar struggles. I wonder if he has ever thought about that easy time when we knew nothing of the world. Still sheltered from the harshness and hard times.
But the one I that hides in a tiny corner of my heart happened three years later. Not quite summer and not yet fall. The freshman girl who a lot of the boys thought was cute (at least that’s what my friends told me at the time). But I fell for the senior and he for me. A bit of a rebel and I assure you that was part of his appeal. I liked his curly locks and trimmed beard and the fact that he could play guitar and sing. The first night he took me out he walked me to my dorm and we kissed on the path outside. His glasses fogged up. And I remember thinking that it felt so very different from it did when I was fifteen.
Needless to say, we fell in love. Crazy, mad young love where you find yourself unable to think of anything else. Love that didn’t meet parental approval, so it was met with outright rebellion. Circumstances eventually changed and then ended our ties to one another. My heart was broken. It was hard to let him go but it was the right thing to do. I thought I saw him once years after he’d married and I was with another. He was sitting at a storefront window talking with a friend. My heart stopped and my mouth went dry. I never went in to say hello. But his love letters and photos are still tucked away in an attic trunk. Momentos of my first love unread and unseen for decades. Pieces of a former self and sweet reminders of first love.
Kellie’s prompt this week had me in the way back machine! I could not decide on one particular story as one memory (in this case, the latter) brought up another. The story is my complete thought process.
Summer is in the air and reminds me of those sweet summer flings, first kisses and young love. Do you remember? Tell me…
Maria doesn’t remember the exact moment she met Danny. Thirty years is a long time to look back on when so much of life has occurred. She remembers it was June and the NBA finals were on. Celtics versus the Lakers. Bird versus Magic. She and a bunch of other twenty-somethings were crowded around someone’s television set in a double-decker apartment. A Sunday afternoon sunny and warm-the windows open to let the cool breeze inside the second floor living room.
And there he was. Thin and tan with long blonde hair. A friend of Layla’s (technically her boss), Danny was the editor of a small town newspaper where Layla worked as a reporter. Maria met Layla through an old college friend and they in turn, hit it off. She quickly became a part of Layla’s social circle.
And just as quickly, she fell in with Danny. Their first date together was dinner at his house on the lake. Gnocchi and wine. Maria doesn’t remember how she got there (she had no car in those days) but does recall spending the night. She loved the spontaneity of their relationship. Days at the beach. Beer and steamers at The Barnacle at sunset. Sunday mornings at the lake. Her hair streaked with sun and her skin as brown as a berry. The absolute sheer physical attraction was the energy that fueled their relationship. Maria had no inhibitions with him. She was quite sure that her sounds of ecstasy reverberated throughout the walls of the house he shared with three others but felt no sense of self-consciousness regarding her new found self-expression. Danny brought out a lustful beast in her that she found hard to contain. Their forays in the sand nearly bordered on public acts of indecency. (Just thinking about it now causes her heart to race and her body to pulse in places only he could touch.)
They fanned the flames of their affair all summer long. Their bodies were joined more than they were apart, breaking only for soothing swims and meals that seemed to have aphrodisiac effects. Maria’s head and heart and spirit were full of passion. Danny gave her what she needed without demands and she did the same in turn. They talked and laughed but never got in too deep. Maria loved the fact that he was a true gentleman; he treated her kindly and with a reverence reserved for those he deeply admired. Perhaps this is what drew them together. While they surely fucked like animals at times, he never treated her like a stranger or a one-night stand. But he never did tell her that he loved her nor she him. A strange dichotomy in some ways. But it worked for as long as it could last.
As summer turned to autumn and the nights grew cold, they said good-bye. Maria felt a sad longing for a little while but she never did see or think about him again. Until tonight. Sitting here with her friends, Maureen and Joanne at a beach front bar. She looks up from her drink to see a man standing next to her. He smiles. Tan, short cut blonde hair with traces of gray. “Maria”, says Maureen, “This is my boss Danny. I have been dying for you two to meet.”
At first glance, a meeting by chance
Warming up on sweltering day in the tropical summer
Later, an initial re-aquaintance
in the post race cooling waters
Effortless conversation deeper than the liquid that floated around us
Soothing our heat
A natural ebb and flow
Sunlight’s spark on a newly forming shore
A long run twelve hours hence
My skin bubbled and blistered
Unaccustomed to the equatorial temps
My hair matted with sweat
My mouth sticky- white from thirst
Is that when our hearts first burst?
An attempt to capture a moment or two in time when the seeds of new love take hold without the pair fully knowing it is happening. Snippets of memory nearly six years old that still make me smile.
photo credit: inspirationfeed.com
The air is already thick with heat
as I creep outside in my bare feet
The cool morning dew relieves
the daily ache in my feet and toes
The wet blades stick to my heels
and sneak in between my skin
A delicious delight
dancing with the sensation
The day is still at rest
Only the voice of the train whistle bellows
low and heavy
through the wall of humid air
sounding tired too soon