Gone swimming—Part 2
As I walked up towards the dirt/grass/moss road that parallels the creek on the opposite side of the valley from the house, I startled a ruffed grouse, who whirred away ahead of me, disappearing into the pine forest. This cheered me up—I always love catching sight of these wild yet domestic-seeming creatures. I heard some others softly clucking nearby, and settled onto a giant boulder in the dappled shade to listen for a while. A squirrel started scolding me with its chuck-chuck-chuck rattle, and I laid back, closed my eyes, and listened to the land. I realized that it’s a lot more pleasant to simply be while outdoors on the land with other creatures and lffife to keep me company than it is within the stark, lonely, artificially white four walls of my apartment in Vancouver. My soul needs the input of the natural world that we evolved in. Something is missing without it. Something I can rest in.
After a while, feeling refreshed, I noticed that this spot was almost exactly across the valley from the house. The spirit of the explorer infused me once more, and I wondered if I could find the mythical passage across the valley. I headed back down to the creek, and after climbing over a few fallen trees and tangles of branches I saw a perfect crossing place: narrow enough, with a solid log making a bridge from bank to bank, about three feet above the water. I stepped onto the sun-bleached wood, and my feet slowly felt their way across. I felt grateful to my father for holding my hand while I walked on logs as a young girl. His gift lives in me now.
I kept walking on the log, which stretched out on the earth long after it had spanned the creek. When it ended I stepped into the tall grass, rounded some willow bushes, and smelled mint. I discovered a whole garden of mint plants growing on the wet earth amidst the tall grass. I ate a leaf to be sure, tasting the peppery bite of the fresh herb. Yes! A reward for the explorer! I will come back to this place to harvest some mint for tea… I walked a little further south, to the end of the willow bushes, and found myself in the vast meadow in the middle of the valley. Virgin territory! The place where wild moose run!
Stepping cautiously, because the ground was somewhat marshy, I was glad that my feet were wet already so I could walk out into this beautiful meadow. Straight across was the house, and I made my way towards it. I came to a narrow channel, cut by beaver, that was easy to jump across. Large leaves low to the ground identified particularly wet areas, which I walked around, slowly making my way to the other side of the valley. I heard the creek again as I neared the valley’s edge, and found myself at the beaver dam just south of the house. I realized that since my feet were wet, walking across the dam was as easy a way to cross the creek as any. Almost home… (to be continued)