Occasionally this New England girl ventures outside the Northeast. In 2010, I was invited south to visit a friend. This venture was a lengthy one, including stops in Washington D.C. and Virginia, finally ending with a gathering in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania to celebrate the autumnal equinox. During this three day stretch, my life was brought to a needed pause. The trip came at a
particularly busy time in my life. Juggling college, writing, publishing, and teaching, I was working 100 hours a week. Mentally and emotionally exhausted, I was left beyond any use. My body and spirit were ragged. Rest had become more than a desire, it was a necessity.
I had accepted the invitation. I saw the gathering as an opportunity to unplug, rest, and connect with like-minded people. Upon my arrival, however, I soon found myself alienated by several people at the camp. Simply put: It was the old schoolyard quandary; I just didn’t fit in. I will admit, part of my isolation during the trip was of my own doing. As a youth, I was utterly open to sharing my private ponderings but that part of my character has suffered its wounds; leaving me a guarded adult. Being as private as I am, I do not make friends easily. I regard opening myself to another person to be a sacred act; it is not something I do on a whim. Trust must be earned.
While the trip wasn’t the opportunity to connect with others that I had hoped it would be, I decided to use the time away to connect with myself and with the land. Instead of spending time in conversation with others, I spent time in the calm trying to hear my own thoughts, which had been drowned in the daily rush. I was gentle with myself over those days—I took long hikes; explored a new landscape that offered everything and asked nothing; sat by the fire late into the night; sipped mead under the stars and carried my journal everywhere I went—holding it as I would the hand of a sympathetic friend.
The acorns fell like heavy rain—
Future giants falling to earth as newborns,
One day to stretch between the worlds.
The chipmunks chirped like cardinals
Back and forth at one another
As they raced along the ledges
Of the channeled slate walls.
Bees hovered in mid-air
With Zen like peace.
While the crickets chanted their mantra
Unto the harvest moon.
The red kernels of the burning oak log smoked,
Blessing those who stood around,
Witnessing the cremation of its century-old life.
The trees shed their leaves
Blanketing the path ahead
Like flower maids spreading golden petals
Before the bride as she walks to her union—
Before me, as I walk deeper into this wood
And offer myself as a companion
To the spirits in the surround.
—an excerpt from Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity: Journal of a New England Poet