I Walk

I have thought much since January how life is tentative. I have known abstractly the brevity of life – how war extinguishes breath, the soldier and civilian’s; how famine weakens and illness encroaches; how epidemics — smallpox, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and cholera —sweep aside generations in their path. Polio was the childhood fear of my mother. Tuberculosis haunted the dreams of her father.

I walk these mid-summer days with my camera. I pause at the persistent calling of a bird. I lean-in to understand the petals of a flower. I brake my bike to watch a fawn peering through tall grass and clover.

 

 

I remain between two places — my childhood home of Illinois and my home in northwestern Minnesota. My mother’s illness and passing has strengthened family relationships. My mother is gone, but I am loved by those who remain. New people have come into my life. Ideas are shared. Questions are posed. Thoughts are explored. I travel back to Illinois now to attend to details of my mother’s death. I travel home again to resume a life begun in adulthood. I return to a place I know well, a place I expect my own journey will end.

Beyond this final house
I’ll make no journeys, that is
the nature of this place,
I came here old; the house contains
the shade of its walls,
a fire in winter; I know
from what direction to expect the wind;
still
      I move in the descent
of days from what was dreamed
to what remains.  — Wendell Berry

 

 

Each morning, I collect myself. Habit pulls my bike from the shed or ties the laces of my running shoes. On weekends I disappear for long stretches with my backpack and camera. I cannot concentrate on books; I cannot quiet my mind except in the solitude of space. I ask, “Where is my God?” My father often said, “I find more God on a walk in the woods than on a pew in a church.” And so, too, I walk.

 

 

I have thought much since January how tentative life is. I know firsthand the brevity of life. When will joy return, I ask. I cross the open field. I kick up dust along the gravel road. I lean-in to see. I pause to listen. I stop to watch. I walk.

 

 

Berry, Wendell. “Boone.” Collected Poems: 1957-1982, 7, 8. North Point Press, 1987.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “I Walk

  1. You’re a true romantic. Romanticism was always my favorite unit to teach in the lineup. I have respect for the people who step away from the noise to find understanding and peace in silence. There’s something noble and inspiring about that. I adore the photos, especially the fawn and turtle. I can’t wait for your next upload!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shanice! Sometimes I walk so long, my hips hurt. I remember long ago when I was expecting my first child. My mother visited. We walked around Lake Como in St. Paul, MN twice. It was a beautiful early-autumn day, and we couldn’t get enough of the cooler air and lower humidity. We sat on a park bench talking before heading home. My hips hurt so badly that evening, I thought I’d never walk pain free again! These days, trekking around with my camera and backpack, I think back on that day at Como Park and smile!

      I especially loved the turtle and fawn sightings. So unexpected! There’s so much in this world to experience! Thank you again.

      Like

  2. This poem came to mind. Be well and keep up the good writing.

    Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – (236)
    BY EMILY DICKINSON

    Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
    I keep it, staying at Home –
    With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
    And an Orchard, for a Dome –

    Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
    I, just wear my Wings –
    And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
    Our little Sexton – sings.

    God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
    And the sermon is never long,
    So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
    I’m going, all along.

    Like

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