List of Beautiful: May 20, 2016

   

 celebrating 10 years of marriage with my love at our favorite cabin in the mountains

the sweet piney fragrance of the air when it rains

morning walks under ponderosa pines

my boys gathering kindling for the fireplace 

feathering new growth in my hand

an unhurried pace

dreaming about the next 10 years

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Year of Beauty

The morning is a rare gray, air cool and moist as I trod to the open dirt at the end of our neighborhood. I am looking for uneven ground, the better to challenge my muscles and joints.

My eyes, unaccustomed to the softness, still want to squint. Then I see the weeds. I feel like Rey in that scene: I didn’t know there was so much green in the universe. I need the clouds in order to truly see it. I look for more, and find the mesquites with their new spring growth. Diminutive fronds shower soft from their branches, a green whose name is unknown to me, almost the same as the pastel I chose during the therapy session last week. Inner resources. I closed my eyes and searched, questioning. What does the resource that is continuously renewed look like inside me? A tendril curling within, bright green and growing. Needing nurturing, thirsty. An ocean of water surrounding, feeding it. The depths of that ocean dark and calm underneath any tumult at the surface.

I reach as though to shake hands with the branch, pull back at the last moment when I notice the thorns, a good half-inch long, ivory colored like perfect fangs smiling at me. I test one carefully, half expecting it to be soft and undeveloped, but, no. It resists with a hardness that is surprising.

I so often feel overexposed here, a photograph blown out with too much light. I breathe deep, eyes open but still wary. The haze greeting me on this morning walk is ethereal, otherworldly, the sun’s light diffuse.

By the end of the walk I am in tears. There is so much beauty, and I need to see, and seek, it. I do not know what this will look like. I do know that I struggle to hold onto the beauty. As soon as the misty smudges across the sky register, I am caught in longing again, wishing for more of these mornings and glowering at the thought of the return of the usual desert harshness. Like the ones in the Snow Queen story who have got tiny shards of the magical, distorting mirror in their eyes, the ugly and painful magnified in their sight.

My baby is nine months old on this morning, her arrival in July in the middle of a storm, in the first hour of the morning. I will tell her yet again how beautiful she is when I get back from my walk. Year of Beauty, the words beating a rhythm in my head to match my march across the sand. Quail skitter from one mesquite to another. The soft mixing with the hard.  Beauty and thorns.

Retreat

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I did not grow up with mountains; my first hike was on a spring break mission trip to Oklahoma with other students from my college.  On that hike, the pastor, who guided us as we scrambled over boulders and braced ourselves against incredible gusts of wind, led us in a psalm once we were at the top: “I lift my eyes up to the mountains; where does my help come from?”  We seemed cocooned at the top of that mountain, the wind dying down and a small chorus of voices weaving the melody around us.  Ever since, I have sung that to myself on hikes.

We have been in need of just such a cocoon– rest, a retreat from the stress of the past couple months, and quantities of quality time as a family.  The woods in these mountains are cool and crisp, the pine inviting for wandering hikes, the deer accommodating of small budding naturalists.    Our first day in the mountains, E said, “I like the cabin; it’s quiet, we can talk and be together, and we can hear things.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Sneaking behind the fence for a closer look.

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Trying to smile for the camera.

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Bears are his other recent fascination.

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