Up on the Eastern Promenade last Saturday morning we went looking for contrasts. The wind was biting at the top of the walk, and the air all but still once we reached the shoreline. The beauty of the water was marked by intermittent caps of white before us, and the buzz of the city held fast in its concrete over our shoulders. The chaos of our work and world back home was punctuated by the calm of the moment at hand.
In the middle of Baxter Woods in Portland there is a ring of benches that invite passersby to come, sit and reflect. At our Beauty Walk yesterday we did just that. In fact we followed the impulse of the trees around us and we circled the woods three times, returning to the center ring between subsequent jaunts, to reflect on a portion of Aldo Leopold’s tale of the “Good Oak” in A Sand County Almanac.
He called wilderness “a symbol of a way of life that can nourish the spirit”. He described it as the source of equilibrium in a world that is otherwise often antagonistic to sanity. He wrestled to illuminate the wilderness experience as “an intangible something compounded of the countless intimacies” that we know when we pay attention to our surroundings. He called wilderness a “spiritual necessity”.
I don't know about you, but coming back to the city is not an easy transition. I miss the plateau. I miss the red and gold. I feel like the Paria Canyon was either walking through a dream I never wanted to wake from, or like waking up for the first time and realizing everything before had been an illusion. Ugh. When do we go back? Real life is so fake... What a trip. One that has changed me. Thanks for the wake up call… or the deep sleep… I'm not sure which yet.
I have an old photo taped on the wall just above my desk. In it I’m leaning against my dad who is leaning against a hitching rail in a forest near a birch tree. We’re held in the photo by a small pocket of light. It was the late ‘80s so, of course, we have matching mullets. There is a distinct smile on my face as I anticipate exploring the shadowy places, the unknown that extends from each corner of the photo.