Today I am giving thanks for yesterday's rain, new life, my sweet friends, and the wildness still in this world.
Something I will miss (on a daily basis) is the way the afternoon sun hits last year's grass and lights it up. Anyone who has connected to land this way will understand what I mean. And for those who haven't, imagine just loving the sight of anything your child does. That pure joy of watching their joy, or the heart wrenching feeling of seeing them hurt. Loving land does compare to that feeling. It is deep in you; it is part of your flesh.
When the rancher up creek clear-cuts the old growth Ponderosa for his cattle, you feel it in your stomach; your heart.
I am leaving Walnut Creek for my family. My youngest child (whose brothers are no longer home) has needed more than what we could provide here on the land. I am not talking about schooling; though she has decided to go to school after being unschooled her whole life. I am talking about more socializing and pursuing her dreams of competitive gymnastics and playing with a sting band. All of these activities are an hour drive from home. Being in town all day, gas prices, getting home after dark, having my dogs pissed off at me, never seeing my horses, not being able to keep up with my garden, and mostly not being able to do my job here at the Walnut Creek Center; these are the reasons why I could not stay here. I am back for the summer (my last) until the new managers take the position. After that...I'm not sure.
My children are only children for another 8 years or so. I can pursue my dreams after they've gotten a good start on theirs. They lived on this land and close to nature, in very remote and rustic conditions for most of their lives. That style of life isn't for everyone and it never felt right imposing my dreams on them (unless they, too, wanted the same thing.)
In a few years, I will move back to the cabin in the mountains where all I hear at night are coyotes, tree frogs and elk bugling. For now, I will enjoy the last six weeks I have with my Love Land. After that, I will still come twice a week to tend to the horses, walk the creeks and mesas, and photograph the land I love best.
Ruins Tank, Indian Peak, Apache Creek, Graver Wash, Hyde Creek Seep, Pine Creek, Dead Steer Basin, Deer Tank, Happy Camp, Two Lions Tank, Boneyard Loop, Granite Knob, Juniper Mesa. These are the names of home; the names of a place I love more than any other place on earth. This is the place where I have spent the past five and a half years; a place where my spirit set up camp and refuses to leave.
It is morning, early and cool; a perfect time to sit on the south side of any building. This morning, it is the south side of the old barn facing Walnut Creek. I can hear it's movement: a slow gurgle, sluggish, happy and waning from the winter's floods.
There is not a living human for miles, literally. The ranches to the east and west are busy with their ranchy duties, but in between it's just me, the dogs, the horses and the wildlife.
I haven't heard a single car or plane or human voice since last night at 5pm.
This is a special time for me; four days alone at Walnut Creek. The family has gone on a trip to California, so it's just me and the place I love. I haven't had a solo experience (for longer than one day) in about 18 years. I have four whole days and three nights!
When I was 19 years old, I wandered along the Appalachian trail for three months alone. It was a planned trip. I had planned the trip with a partner; however, she backed out three days before we were to leave. Everyone was sure I would cancel or postpone. Of course, I went anyway.
It was the first best thing I ever did with my life. I was alone! Completely alone and free and walking and walking and writing and thinking and listening. It was 1984, and at that time the Appalachian Trail wasn't exactly crawling with people. I walked the 100 mile wilderness 100% alone and I was ecstatic.
As a child I was always solitary, quiet and independent, but that long solitary walk did something to change the way I experienced myself in relation to the world (as in earth/planet.) That adventure solidified a feeling of connectedness and strength. I was simply another creature on this whirling blue/green planet. Nothing more; nothing less.
So here we are: Mountain Lion, Elk, Badger and Me.