Friday, January 4, 2013

Travels to The Source, and back again

Once again I ventured up into the hills near my shared apartment. Led by some voice, a whisper, an uncertain push/pull to sojourn back into the woods; the scrubby bushes, the Aspens, the wild. Crossing the highway, that final barrier between human and nature - true uninterrupted nature, that is - and stepping, plunging rather, into the knee deep snow of the steep hill's northern facing flank.

Reaching the first of many tablelands, humble in their square footage of sage brush, I paused to catch my breath and to scout the unfolding landscape ahead of me. With sunshine, that glorious perfection striving towards the Earth, in my eye I moved back and away around a nearby bush, using it as a shield in which to see the nature scene up and to my forefront. Out of the corner of my eye motion led to conscious acknowledgment of a small herd of animals starring at me. Two large bucks and 3 does. One buck more easily detected amongst the herd than the other, presenting themselves - antlers large and outlined by the Colorado blue sky above and beyond. Smiling, as the breathy vapor of winter escaped my lips, I starred back in happiness that non-human creatures existed in this shared space with me. After a short while, the deer, in their darkened brown coats of winter, departed up the hill further, away from the intended direction of my solo travel.

Continuing on, across the largest of the earthen tables I'd cross this day, I paused and turned to take in the scenery of the Eagle River Valley. Remarking out loud to myself of the grandeur and beauty that the mountains far across the valley to the north revealed with each step up, into a new and higher perspective: where the reaches of humans only visit; devoid of our lavish interpretations of habitation and homes.

A short while earlier, before leaving the apartment, I gathered the few necessary items not already on my person: water, sunglasses, and a warm layer for this quarter-day journey up and back. In my preparations I once again heard the voice of truthfulness. Not my truth but a created, established one that softly discloses subtle words, guidance - only seeming to register within when I am truly listening. Or was it me creating thoughts within my consciousness? No...

This soft, gentle whisper just below my conscious thought stuck with me. Knowing there flowed water from the earth where I'd be going today, I doubted, at first, the guidance, the truth shared with me. Only after I had finished filling my bottle with water from the tap did I recognize and accept this thought not to be mine. Coming to a sudden space of harmony with my ambiguous thoughts, reassured in what I had witnessed silently slipping into my realized consciousness, I poured the water out of my bottle into another bottle that would remain here, in the human world.

***

Ascending, ambulating foot in front of foot, up another vertically venturing hill of the northern flank of this mountain, I suspended in mid-stride to take in a set of animal tracks. These were not the tracks of deer, a social animal known to amass in groups, but, rather, the tracks of a loner: a hunter. 

The size of the paw print in the snow occupied almost the entire space of my own human palm. The distinct pads of one print in particular contrasting the snowy purchase around which it had been placed. I half witnessed within me an acute pang of fear in the unknown before reason fortunately told that these tracks were old by a few days or more. Speculating such based on the amount of snow covering some of the less visible tracks and their relative lack of distinction. Thinking of the wilderness space I was in - out of my element - recalling the story I had just read about mountain lions from a book my sister gifted to me for Christmas called The Animal Dialogues, by Craig Childs. Shaking my head at the momentary facade of fear, I flashed another smile and kept on up the hill; spurred by a thirst for the liquid medium that flowed somewhere up yonder. 

***

I truly enjoy the snow; this frozen interpretation of water, cast upon the Earth's surface for a duration of months known as winter. In selfish admittance this is one reason I chose to come back West again - to experience winter to its possible fullest. The way the typically dry snow of Colorado piles upon itself, coalescing over the nearly imperceptible granules of its brothers and sisters. Shining bright, brighter with each step. Sunlight caressing the snowy particles in their movement of forced exile from the space created by my booted feet. Momentarily captivating a simple acknowledgement within me of a greater, more complex sense of creation that is not of human form or doing. 

Transitioning in my movement and affirmation of the beauty of nature around me, I trended up, leading myself by memory and the channeling landmarks of the gulch towards the source that flows - even in the cold, frozen reality of winter time. In my growing excitement and proximity to the source, I again paused, shielded by an ample-sized Aspen tree from the direct stare of the sun. Registering the refracting rays in my bodily stillness as they spit off the tree, glancing onto the other off-whites of Aspens immersed in this snowy landscape nearby. I closed my eyes; allowing, willing, attenuating my sight so that my other senses could be. 

Attempting; gaining a short peaceful space; failing. Distracted by my own human-created thought. Eyes opened: renewed was my spirit in its realization of the treasured sight of what lay around me - enveloping me; accepting me.

another source; pure and as nature intended! 
I've been coined as a spastic person before; this certainly seemed true on this day as I sloppily ambled, spurred yet again by that draw for liquid, up and over downed snow-covered trees. Easily creating a scene typical of human forms in my not-so-graceful movements of bizarre entertainment to any creatures that watched. Once past the downed logs, seeming to guard entrance to the source, I collected myself as I proceeded just a bit further, step by snowy step, to a small rivulet, unfrozen and flowing: the source! Well, one source of flowing water, at least, in this wintry landscape. 

Finding a spot that would accept my bottle, attempting to not be disruptive nor rude to the other creatures that shared this necessary source of daily life, I filled my bottle with enough for one short draw. The taste: teeming with fullness of nothing, no flavor; except the flavor of everything, realized existence! Registering this blissful emotion led me to fill my bottle again - this time collecting the gravity-fed flow of water to the top of my bottle. Smiling. Again, that display of emotion that creeps out of everywhere and anywhere within me when I truly venture outside, into the wilds. Acknowledging that once again I had the unique bestowment of a blessing in my life. Simple and quick as this taste was, it had been since the Appalachian Trail, this past June to October, that I had tasted water in its natural, unadulterated, unfiltered-except-for-Mother-Nature's-natural-strainers, form. What a simple thing to easily appreciate.

Satisfied, striped with happiness, beaming! with brightness. Temporarily forgetting the cold of this winter landscape, I moved off, away from the source; following curiosity towards an area of Aspens I had yet to explore. Once out of the gulch and up the other side, I reached a spot preserved with the damp cold of the dark night prior. Though I could see the rays of sunlight in areas nearby, the cold penetrated me. Standing as a silent barrier to we in our meek human forms: unsuited naturally for habitation in these unique spots of nature.

Wishing to have my beard back, I put on my extra layer - a light down jacket - interjecting warmth in my cold reverie. Being struck with thought about this specific spot, wide and long as a baseball diamond; never seeing, experiencing, feeling sunlight in the short day of winter's time. Perhaps that is why even the animal tracks in this area are sparse. Distracted from this struck thought, nudged by the cold chill, I, in my satisfaction of a nature's steep to my spirit, turned and proceeded downhill.

Back to that human society from which I hail. Back down into the overly-tracked and under-spaced conglomeration of shared existence. Back past the lavish interpretations of homes lining the mountains. Sickening structures of a different kind of grandeur, easily costing millions of dollars, produced for the sake of semi-selfish enjoyment and pleasure. Back across that final barrier, the highway, with small bits of trash littered along its unloved flanks. Back, to the human world with water from taps - purified with chemicals for your health and safety. Back. Baaaack.

*Deep breaths...*

Till I smile with you again, may swirls of beauty find you, interrupting your day;
may intuition, that soft voice set-to-speak when our thoughts become less loud share with you;
may LOVE fill you, like water fills a bottle.

Alan


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