I was thinking about a nice warm cup of coffee as the girls and I rounded the corner to the familiar trail that hugged the perimeter of the High School Campus. All at once Stella, Rosebud and I stopped dead in our tracks at the devastating scene before us. Dumbfounded, we stared at the decimated trees, shrubs and roots scattered about. The three of us stumbled around, taking in the wreckage, uncertain about what to do next. Without thinking, I began to pick up as many of the beautiful deep red manzanita branches my arms could carry. They were awkward and heavy but it didn’t matter. I jammed as many twigs as I could into my small pockets, juggling a bag full of recyclables while trying to maintain control of the double leash (which required two hands). I struggled clumsily making my way back home……and I wept. I wept for trees and bushes and animals who made their home among the branches, leaves and roots. But mostly I wept for my loss.
Over the years, I forged a profound connection with the magical manzanita and pine tree forest. The land invited my dog Dude when he was alive and now Stella and Rosebud to sniff, examine and dig. The tree and bush filled terrain posed for many a picture over the years. It has seen me laugh, heard me cry and listened to my stories lovingly, patiently and without judgement. I have shared my sorrows and triumphs with that area for 17+ years. And it has watched me grow and evolve.
I have learned many lessons about nature and been able to apply them to my own life. I appreciate that everything in nature is cyclical and recognize our interconnectedness to the environment and life as a whole. I’ve seen astonishing beauty, the kind that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. I discovered how to be mindful and to appreciate each moment. Some of my best lessons have been realized out in the fields and forest while exploring my surroundings.
I’m a bit surprised by the protectiveness I feel for this landscape. I deeply love this area and feel a sense of prideful ownership. I have always joked that Dude, Stella and Rosebud believe this area to be their backyard; well so do I! My heart is heavy and I am feeling a deep sadness and grief. I am mourning the loss of my rooted earth friends, confidants and loved ones. I honor their existence to the world and to me personally, as well as the fundamental lessons they have imparted to me. And I let them go in love.