Monday, August 10, 2009 walk in the woods, again...

Today was a beautiful day. The air quality was actually rated "Good" by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Air Quality Index. It was fresh, crisp and without a hint of wildfire smoke. My daughter and I decided to hike along the University trails.

Powerful feelings -elation, peace, and relief- arose within my soul. The result: a rush of tears began to pour down my cheeks.

I wonder why we don't shed a tear or two more often and let out how we really feel. Is it to keep up our appearances to others -both those close to us and those who don't even know our name? Is it so that we can tell ourselves a different version of the story we are living? Maybe we don't want to believe in the magic that surrounds us everyday.

Tears actually release toxins from our body -it's been scientifically tested. Emotional tears let us release pent up feelings. It's healthy. All human beings have tear ducts so it's natural. But seeing someone cry seems to be disconcerting and somewhat upsetting for most people.

As I stopped walking, time stopped and space expanded. I began sniffling and wiping tears with the back of my hand. We stood in the middle of a wooded trail, cherry-red rose hips to my right, fireweed going to seed on my left, my daughter patting my arm and wanting to comfort me. She wanted to make it alright rather than to let me cry. I didn't really have Words to describe how I felt walking with her on that trail. But I used my 5 cent, single syllable words to explain, 'it feels so good to walk in the woods, again.' (Oh, ok, ag-ain is two syllables...)

If a picture can tell a thousand words, tears should be able to tell at least fifteen hundred words. I wanted to express to her what I felt or thought. But in the moment, with my heart bursting and the tears flowing down my face, I had no words -just release and communing with the Greatness that surrounded me.

As she patted my arm and asked if I was ok, memories flashed into my mind (each very much worth a thousand words). Living in a 'dry' cabin when I first came to Fairbanks. Peaceful walks to the outhouse in mid summer. Naknek. King Salmon summers. Picking blueberries in McGrath. Waking to super cubs landing on Six Mile Lake. The summer I learned about medicinal use of Alaskan plants -and tried them out. The many summers I made Fireweed Honey -jars and jars of it given away as Christmas presents. Using a chain saw for the first time at fish camp. Riding on a four wheeler along the edge of the lake to get to the wooded trails. Memories break my heart and heal me all at the same time.

I wish my daughter could have uploaded the tear enhanced memories into her own thoughts and feelings of our hike together. My explanation -stifled, simple, lacking in substance -made me seem overly emotional and a little sad. And maybe I am.

Following the flood of memories, I was swept away by a Heart-decision, in that brief, tearful moment, that I'm ready to live in a cabin again...away from the ease of downtown living. I want to come home to a cozy, warm, cheerful cabin in the midst of the quiet woods I love, to knit mittens, cook soup.

As time resumed, I took a couple of deep breaths, hugged my girl up and gave her a reassuring smile. We continued our hike as we shared what we love about the woods. We just kept going. (And, isn't that we must do when struck by tears and time stops -just keep going forward.) So we hiked through the woods...happily...together.

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