I come to the cabin to clear my head but also to ground myself. After a hard week of getting my parents moved, hiring and training caregivers, dealing with different drug plans, and consulting with doctors and nurses, my brain felt over-stimulated, constantly on high alert, trying to figure out the next step in a plan of action to make my aging parents comfortable. I couldn’t turn it off.
When I left Boulder for the mountains this week, it was a beautiful spring morning, daffodils pushing up, robins and meadowlarks singing, the fields brushed with a faint green. But when I got to the cabin, it was winter once again, snow squalls followed by brief periods of sun, and with strong winds that bent the trees and made the whole cabin creak. Across the valley, the winds created a curtain of snow that partially hid the opposite hillside.
Rare for me, I didn’t want to go out into it, even after three hours of sitting in front of my computer. Instead I wanted to curl up in the chair, wrap myself in a blanket and watch the wintry assault from safely and warmly inside the cabin. But I needed to move, couldn’t sit still anymore.
April is an ugly month up here. Remnants of snow are crusted over and covered with pine needles and dirt. Everything is raw; last year’s grasses have been beaten into submission by the wind, tangled and matted in the dirt. There’s nothing pretty now, nothing pleasant and hardly anything that would give one hope for spring except the rushing of the creek.
I hurried on the road, and through piles of slush, trying to avoid getting blasted by the wind, keeping my head down. My usual sources of inspiration were unavailable. Mount Meeker was hidden in gray clouds, and my favorite pond (above) was colorless, covered with sheets of melting ice.
But there was something insistent in the air, something tugging at me, something else beyond my jumbled thoughts: listen, it said, be aware, pay attention. And when I let go of my obsessive thoughts, I could hear it. It was in the wind (that sounded sometimes like a jet roar), but also in the small chirps of the juncos feeding on the ground (right) and in the blackbirds’ raucous calls as they circled above the pines. It was in the creek, free now from the ice and tumbling joyfully and playfully down the valley.
It was the voice of another world, another reality from the one I had been locked in for a week. It was spacious and open, not bound by the rules of the human world but of another dimension. You could call it the natural world. Whatever it was, it pulled me out of my small, constricted life and propelled me into something else, something unconcerned with Medicare, wheelchairs, even old age, sickness and death, because the sky, the earth and the winds felt eternal, never-ending. Whatever this life force is, it heals me and makes me whole again, sets me back on the ground that I must trod.