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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6 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

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