Around the Corner

In a strange bed last night, which is not strange for me (I travel a lot), I knew almost immediately I would have trouble falling asleep, so I took more medication, and then overslept.  That included getting up in the middle of the night to pee, and spending almost a minute banging around in the dark bathroom, unable to find my way out.  Door edge, bang!, wall, bang! door jamb, bang!, sink, bang!  It’s one of those hotel bathrooms in a bathroom, the toilet and tub off the alcove with the sink, so there were two doorways to manage.  I made it back to bed, and woke up to David calling.

As I talked to him, I pulled on some shorts, slipped on my flip-flops, grabbed my purse and headed out for the dock-front coffee shop to get some cappuccino.  I’m in Key West for a meeting, it’s miserably hot and humid and I’d planned to get up early to try running before the worst of the heat builds.  Not today.  I walked down the steps and came out a side door of the Westin and turned towards the water, around the corner of the building and there was a wall of cruise ship taking up all of my horizon.  Bang! 

Later in the day, after the meeting adjourned, I walked to a state park to swim at what seems to be the only real beach on Key West.  Surprising, the lack of swimming here.  People come to party, I’m told, not to be on the beach.  It was gloriously tropical — palms trees, deep blue sky, sea water streaked emerald and turquoise and aquamarine against the crushed shell white sand.  As I swam along the beach towards a breakwater that marked a turn of the shore, I came up for a breath and there was the cruise ship again, coming around the corner of the key where the water turns from ocean to gulf.  It’s monstrous white hull was all I could see.  Bang!

What’s around the next corner?

Horses

When we got up this morning, there was fog rising from the fields around the house.  It had rained again overnight, pools of water on the porch floor and the furniture on the deck.  By the time our cappuccino was ready and we were out on the porch, the fog had cleared. 

“Look at the sun on the horses,” David said.  The roof line of the house threw a shadow across the small dirt road into the corner of pasture.  The horses stood just past the line, in the sunlight, heads down, eating.

I’m happy they’re back.  The pasture was empty for a few weeks, eaten out in this dry summer.  There’s been just enough rain from storms in the past week to get some grass up again.  Years ago, there was a dairy herd across the street.  After the herd was sold, a succession of farmers pastured smaller herds in the field, then the young men who bought the farmland kept a few steer.  The cows often clustered in the corner of the pasture right across from the porch in the evenings, when I would get home and sit and watch.  Were they greeting me, or catching the last of the sun that hit the small rise on the far eastern edge of the field?

Now we have horses to watch.  “Horses are magical,” my friend Marsie told me, and knowing Marsie, I expected what I found when I looked into what she meant.  Epona was a Celtic horse goddess, linking the horse, the divine and the feminine at a time when women and horses were sacred, honored, and free

The horses were grazing in our corner again this evening, when we ate dinner on the porch.  Lit by the low sun behind him, one of the horses started to walk towards us, his tan and white body swaying as he planted each of his heavy feet.  He looked up at us, his mane ruffling around his face, then dropped his head into the field, continuing to eat.

Re-Entry

After two weeks of orbiting in vacation sphere, today was touch down, re-entering the atmosphere of obligations, email, networks, meetings, schedules, deadlines and Droid notification signals.  David and I both kept yawning as we drove home from work, doing our daily download with each other.  “I think we’re yawning because we were so busy at work, we forgot to breathe.”  He yawned again.

When we got home, we changed into our bathing suits and went to the pond for a swim.  The sky was grey, with some piles of clouds that looked potentially thunderous, but we couldn’t hear any rumbles and went in anyway.  Stroke, twist, breath, stroke, stroke twist, breath, stroke, the water slipping over me, under me, filling in all the space around me.  Re-entry space, back at work space, back to swimming after work space, the grey space of the deep water, my hands plunging a burst of air bubbles into the pond with each stroke, the rhythm slowly working its way into my brain space as I swam back and forth and back and forth across the pond.

At one point, lifting my face from the water to breathe, I caught a sharp light among the clouds and froze.  Lightening?  I stopped, pulled my head up and saw it was a slit of direct sun through a fold in the clouds.  I listened.  Still no thunder to be heard anywhere.  The flash of brilliance hung there in the sky, then the clouds moved again and it was gone.  I went back to swimming.

Greens

David and I got up this morning, a week into our two week vacation, sat on the deck drinking cappuccino, moved to the porch to get out of the sun, too hot even though it was a cool morning, and talked about what we would each do today.   David was planning to continue sorting through paperwork in his studio, then work on the barn, either doing more organizing of the detritus of our blended lives, or painting in the summer studio he’s creating in the cleared out space.  I was going to bike and swim (tri prep), water the garden, and write.  We both would grocery shop, then cook for the dinner party with old friends.

“Let’s forget all that and go to the coast and kayak,” David said.

“We can get fish for dinner at Seaport,” I said, the fish market Eric and I shopped at for dinner parties.  “They have incredibly delicious smoked salmon that they smoke themselves.”

An hour later we were on the road, two hours later we were in Little Harbor, paddling towards the mouth against the tide.  I was riding on a sea of green — the green of the water above the sand and rocks, just feet below as the water swirled in to fill the harbor and creeks and marshes.  The line of marsh grass and low, scrubby trees lining the edges of the water was reflecting a deeper green onto the sea green.  The sky was as much cloud as blue and I thought about my blue kitchen, how I want it to be green.  I thought about how I wasn’t thinking about anything.  The boat was alive under me, twitching with the water pulling in with the tide, rumpled by wind, and my own strokes of direction.

Now it’s bedtime, the dinner party over, the smoked salmon raved about and devoured, the dishes done.  The green is in me and I feel full.

The Short View

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Yesterday I paid attention to the short view.  There were single toadstools along the side of the trail, red, yellow, umber, small pops of fungus from the green moss.  A toad jumped into the leaf debris on the side of the trail and stopped, under a pine bough, his mottled tan hide hiding him.  There was an occassional flower, creeping alpine plants hugging the lichen coated granite blocks on the summit.  The ridge walk from Mt. Hight to the Carter Dome Trail was cut into the moss and pine needled ground as if chiseled out with square spades.

But I drank in the long view too, especially of the Royce-Bald Range to the east of the Carter-Moriah Ridge.  Smaller mountains in a relatively wild area, they are seldom seen from White Mountain peaks, hiding behind the higher Carters.  Looking off to the east and south, I could see the Baldface Circle, the mountains of Jackson, the fields near the Eagle Mountain House where we spent the night.

Two days in a row of hiking, almost 19 miles, over 6,000 feet of elevation work, my legs are tired this morning, but my feet have stopped screaming.  I need new boots.  I need to plant beets and swiss chard today, getting the fall crop in.  Get the seeds in, reap the vegetables as the days grow shorter and cooler.  The short view and the long view, when we see what is right in front of us, what arises in the distance is just another view.

Ridge Walk

Blue White Mountains

The man and I walked Crawford Path along the Presidential Ridge in the White Mountains yesterday.  It was a glorious day — clear, dry, windy, with enough sunshine to fill a week. 

“The man?”  My daughter used to refer to her then boyfriend, then fiance, now husband as “the boy” in her blog Are You Really Interested.  The man’s son’s girlfriend is blogging from her stint on an organic B&B farm in France right now (What We Feel Most) and calls her guy “the boy.”  I asked my daughter what that’s about.  “I think it’s a 20s-something thing.”  I’m in my 50s, the man is in his 60s, so “boy” seems ridiculous.  So does “the man.”  He’s David. 

David and I are up in the mountains for two days hiking.  We’d planned to summit Monroe, then Eisenhower, giving us a chance to walk across the open Presidential Ridge, a rocky, scrambly, view-infused walk.  We changed plans at the last minute and went up Edmand’s Path, thinking we’d only get to the top of Eisenhower, maybe walk a bit towards Monroe if we had the time and energy.

But when we got to the ridge, we decided just to walk Crawford Path.  We had half a thought of making it to the summit of Monroe, but we never got there.  We trekked north, buffeted by the crazy winds sweeping up the gulfs to the west, over the ridge, winds which have made the Presidentials notorious for hiking deaths in every month of the year.  There were grey-green lichen washed rocks, scrub spruce, alpine plants, an ant, a caterpillar, a butterfly, Mount Monroe a 5,000 foot triangle of granite blocks in our faces, the Mt. Washington observatory and buildings rising over 6,000 feet behind. 

When we turned south to hike back to Edmand’s Path, all the White Mountains to the south and east and west were layered in mountain blue before us.  Wave after wave of peaks cut the sky, hard blue and whipped clear.  I could easily pick out the mountains, having hiked many of them in my completed quest to join the 4,000 footer club.  A jut of rock to the immediate south was Chocorua, which we’d just hiked on Sunday.

Walking out on Edmand’s Path we walked into forever.  Feet screaming, legs aching and pulling back against the gravity that feels like it will roll you down the ridge, every dip and turn in the trail just showed more trail.  Sunlight through the spruce, then pine, than hardwoods highlighted the rocks and roots ready to trip us.  Step after step got us closer, but we could only think about how far it seemed.   “This trail sure is taking its sweet time coming to an end,” David said.  And then it did.  We crossed the bridges I remembered from the beginning of the hike and then I saw the flash of metal, cars, through the trees.  Forever was over.