Woah! This is it friends... It's December 31st, last day of the year and the FINALE of 52 Weeks of the Ledges! Man, has this month flown by. I feel pretty psyched that I accidentally remembered to go hiking today (?!) and thus, by the skin of my teeth, I have completed a full year of weekly hiking the lovely ledges trail through one little part of the Hogback ridge of the Vermont Green Mountains, aka, my backyard. Truth be told, I've had some back trouble recently and haven't be able to hike for a few weeks. Pout. Sniff. So 52 weeks is not quite a precise number - its more like 48 or so, But thanks to my amazing chiropractor, some essential oils, rest and good old fashioned hot and cold compresses, I was able to take to the hill today! I had to squeeze one more hike in, and I can officially say - mission accomplished!
This past month, there has been all sorts of build up to this moment. As wonderful as it feels to have finished my 52-ish weeks today, the build up has had little to do with my hiking. For the first time in a few years, my entire family will be all in one place at the same time! One sister and her brood live in Vietnam, another sister lives in San Francisco, and my two parents live in San Diego. You could say we're just a little spread out. Its rare that we all convene in one place, however this year, I begged and pleaded for our clan to reunite in Vermont for the holidays. I promised snow and charm. I promised family adventures and cozy catch-up time by the fire. I promised a true Vermont experience if only we could all get gather in my little corner of the world. I've been shopping for nieces/aunties/uncles/grandparents, cleaning nooks and crannies of the house, pulling out the extra bedding, and biting my fingernails while wondering if the winter weather fairies will perform some their magic just when I need it.
And this year, Mommy got her Christmas wish! The whole crew said yes! Schedules were arranged and rearranged, flights and cars were scheduled, meals were planned, the house was decorated. Even though we haven't had any major snowy dumps in Bristol, the winter fairies have not disappointed me. The entire of month of December has been dusted with sparkly white snow, consistently creating that back drop we all desire to enjoy a dreamy holiday time during which family and friends gather. We're still waiting for Lulu, the youngest, to arrive in a few days, but we're pretty darn close to a full-on reunion, and so far its been a joy.
I know I'm painting this Norman Rockwell Christmas in your mind... Hahaha! Let's be clear, no family is perfect, except for mine. Snicker snicker snort! Far from it... but we do love each other, pretty fiercely, and gathering as a whole is rare these days for us. I think I've longed to have them all see me settled in to this Vermont life that I love so dearly. Its taken me a while to find a spot I can call home, a place I can work out my dreams and kinks and feel like myself. Now that I've found it, I want to share it with them, and I'm so grateful for that opportunity. I had this vision of us all taking the 52nd hike together... kids tromping through the snow, creaky grandparents being led up the hill by bouncy grandkids, my sisters and I, arm in arm, giggling at the scene while our significant others rolled their eyes at our silliness. Instead the kids whined at the idea, my sis slept off jet lag, mom cleaned the house (finally able to do it her way while we were all out, and hey, any cleaning not done by me is superior!), the sigs took the kids to the watershed for a non-steep stroll through the woods, and my not too creaky dad and I partnered for the mellow but jubilant finale hike of 2017.
It all really did work out just right. It wasn't really a bells and whistles Hallmark kinda year anyway. And besides, that's boring and predictable and who wants that? This year my heart cracked open enough to find solid ground. This year I got a dog! This year my kid started preschool, and my husband started a new job. This year politics and news nearly blew my head off, but miraculously it somehow stayed on. This year my whole fam-dam-ly came to visit me in Vermont and holy shit that feels good. I know how blessed I am. Not only do I know it, but I feel it. And I tell ya, that's the frickin' point. Feeling good and grateful for what you've got. I could be telling you all the ways 2016 sucked, believe me I could because it wouldn't be hard to do, but tonight I'm going to seeing the light in the dark, make my own damn fireworks and start hike 53 next week. See ya on the hill!
What a hike I had on Tuesday morning! The snow gently dumped for 2 days and just like that, my little town was transformed into a winter wonderland. The oh-so-recently-bare trees were laden with white fluff from head to toe. On my way up and down the hill, each pause I took to catch my breath or look around, allowed the view of a perfect icy snapshot. A few days inside of this sweet and quiet snow globe were rather blissful. Snowmen and snowballs, board games and cozy fires, sledding at preschool and romping with the dog in her very first snow. (She loved it!) A wonderful way to welcome the colder months to come, and a wonderful way to greet the holiday season.
I have to admit, I’ve been stalling on posting a blog entry these past few weeks. Everything I write seems to be wrong. One of my biggest challenges is that I’m always trying to make everyone happy. At this moment in history when we all seem to be at odds with each other, I find it hard to put words to paper (umm, computer screen) without my inner critic halting me, afraid I might not say it the right way, or offend someone. Hey, don’t judge! We all have our hang ups! So with a little discomfort, I push onward, doing my best and learning as I go.
Waking up on November 9th was indeed, shocking to us all. Like many of us, I went to bed thinking one thing was going to happen, and just like that, woke up to the complete opposite. Its quite a roller coaster ride, taking in the daily events in the news and sifting through the often toxic social media. Yet we carry on, taking our kids to school, going to work, eating, walking, driving, and processing all the while. Pain and fear can seem paralyzing, overwhelming, so very very frustrating, and yet the earth turns, the sun sets, opinions shift, we are called to action, we are called to reflect, perhaps more deeply as a nation than ever before.
On this day of gratitude, Thanksgiving Day, I feel more grateful than ever to be following my heart, my calling, my dreams. I decide every day to focus on what makes me feel good, to seek it out as though my life depends on it, because it does! With passion, I commit myself to serving myself through serving others. I commit to compassion, empathy, love, peace, forgiveness, living my truth, speaking my truth. In my line of work, which is often (or will soon be) working with the sick and the dying, one of the most important things I can do is to listen. To listen without judgement, but simply to be an open and willing witness to a person’s pain, struggle, fear, story. I needn’t take it in or absorb it or feel pity for it. I can simply be present in its presence, with an open heart, and hold space for love. And just like that, healing can happen. Shit can shift. Shadows will always exist as long as there is light. And sometimes we have to deeply investigate the shadows in order to move back into the light. So today, I chose to feel grateful for the darkness. I lean in with curiosity. And with tenacity, I will investigate what makes me and this nation feel uncomfortable, understanding that this too is knowledge and necessary for growth.
Blessings to you! Enjoy the holiday weekend, and I hope we all can find ways to allow our hearts to feel full of Thanksgiving. :)
No, friends, I promise “The Final Countdown” does not refer to election day this coming Tuesday. Although it could, and heaven knows I’m certainly excited for that to be finished. Fear not, that’s all I’m gonna say about everyone’s least favorite subject these days. There is a much cooler countdown going on in my life… the countdown to the end of my 52 weeks of the ledges! I started this journey of documenting my hikes and career transition musings the first week of January, 2016. Last week was week 42 (11...) this week was week 43 (10…) and you see where this is going. Only 9 more weeks to go and I’ll have officially completed my mission. Woohoo!
Crisp gray days like today are some of my favorites for hiking. From the warm, comfy indoors, it seems a little dreary through the windows, but from the trail in the great outdoors, working up a sweat on the uphill of a hike is a welcome warmth and uptick of the heartbeat. The haze of a lazy November weekend dissipates for a bit as the cool air and rawness of the wilderness sharpen my senses to help me hustle up and down the hill.
Last week I got to enjoy the company of my dad, the original hiker of my memory, on the trail. I was so glad to have both my folks in town for the week, and it was a treat to share this hike with my dad. Hiking with him is a bit like hiking with myself. There are no pretenses or expectations. We can walk in silence or we can chat it up. When there is conversation it can get deep and meaningful if that’s how we’re feeling, or it can be light and topical. Its just easy, clean, relaxing. Which isn’t to say that we don’t have our moments of contrast or conflict… but that just doesn’t seem to happen on a hike. There seems to be an unspoken reverence for the woods and fresh air, and I’m honored that I got to kick off my countdown with him.
There seemed to be a marked difference in the trees between this week and the last. Namely, they’re dropping, falling and being blown or rained upon to their next destination: the ground. My little mountain is edging closer to the look (and feel!) of winter, with bare branches and various shades of simple browns, grays and white. But as for today, the trees held on to a good handful of their leaves, and had a lacey-ness about them, as they just barely started to allow new sights to come into view for the winter, sights previously kept secret by the lush greens of summer and reds, oranges and yellows of peek fall.
As we make our way towards the holidays, towards the end of 2016, and I make my way towards week 52 of my journey, here’s my intention and hope for us all. May we take the time to soak it up and love every last minute as much as we can. May we stay grounded and grateful through this busy time of year, and keep our eyes, hearts, and minds on what matters most. May we let go of what needs to go, and seek out what makes us happy and tuned in to love and each other. May we take the time we need to pause here and there, and get out to enjoy the outdoors in whatever ways we can. May we have the courage to stay focused on what makes us FEEL good, so we can continue to bring about more good to those around us. Its cyclical my friends! Light yourself up, so you an light up the world! That’s my plan, and I’m stickin’ to it. ;)
Today might be a drizzly, rainy day, keeping us all inside and thinking about starting up the wood stove, but I’m super grateful for the drenching. Our not-quite-hibernating trees and plants are soaking it up, and the super dry water table is drinking in every drop it can, because boy, do we need it. I had plans to finish a stone path I’ve been working on, but I’m kinda glad for the relief and quiet indoor time. I know come March, indoor time will be the last thing anyone wants, but in October and November, it feels cozy and welcome, a forced time off that turns out to be just whatcha need.
After all, this week has been some glorious fall weather! 60 and 70 degree days, ample sunshine and white puffy clouds, like a little gift from the weather gods to remind us that summer wasn’t long ago and will surely return. My hike up the trail this week was a shining gem on one of those very days. Quiet and warm, with striking colors and a friendly crunch-crunch under my feet. Just me and Hope and the trees. No agenda, no rush, no expectations.
Fall and spring being the seasons of transition, I’m looking forward to some things shifting in my life. Cleaning out the closets and giving the house a good scrub before winter is on the agenda this weekend. I’ll also be giving a bone broth cleanse a try in a week or so - out with the old toxins and in with some good nutrients to boost my immune system from all those looming winter germs.
In a slightly more exciting department, I just received the exam for my therapeutic music certification. Its been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to getting it done and moving on to my internship. It might have taken longer than I intended, but its actually here now and it feels like progress. And speaking of longer than intended, my garden fence in the backyard is finally done (!) and once the rain lets up it’ll be time to put that garden to bed, along with the rest of the yard. One last round of tending to the earth before she goes into a deep sleep. And speaking of deep sleep, its time to turn off all screens and electronics, enjoy the pitter patter of the rain, and take a little mid-afternoon nap. I hope you get to do the same!
Sweet Fall! My, oh my, the views around here these days almost makes those negative temps in January worth it! This morning my kiddo, the dog and I took off just before 8 AM to make our way up the trail. The worm’s eye view of the hill from my yard in the Bristol village was that of deep greens with peppercorn reds and oranges, whereas with just a little elevation gain if you were to head up the hill a bit into Lincoln, the vibrant colors could nearly knock your socks off. I love that my side of the hill takes a little longer to turn… as a result, Fall seems to linger in the village for a bit, and I relish it.
Last week I went up the hill in a scurry… 57 minutes, door to door. My fastest time yet! It felt great to have my heart pounding that much - like I was really stretching my lungs and muscles in a way I hadn’t in a while. Today, however, was a nice contrast. S and I weren’t quite lolly-gagging, but taking 2 hours felt luxurious by comparison. In fact, I do believe that 2 hours was HIS fastest time! I was pretty proud of him. Besides the great hike, he so easily agreed to join me, (not a common occurrence), without fuss, whines, or bribes! Surely the signs of a newly turned 5 year-old!
I won’t lie, we’ve had some bumpy parent-child relations over the past few weeks leading up to this 5th birthday. You know when you head into a patch of some sort with your kid, (insert anyone you’re close to here if you are blissfully kid-free), in which you are just out of synch? You think its just a bad day at first, and then it turns into a full-fledged, dreaded, “phase”. Said phase included: more attitude than normal, trying on other kids quirky phrases and behaviors, rolling of the eyes, and my personal favorite, kicking the dog. I know! OK, to cool your alarm a bit, the kicks were not particularly malicious, just, well, bratty. Turns out my darling son was a little jealous of his new “sister-dog” - Hope - and the attention she was receiving from me. And on top of the attention, how dare Hope listen to Mom’s commands and not his?!
This kicking annoyed me to no end (indeed, its intended result), but I’m happy to say its gotten much better. Although it took me a while, I found a consequence that seemed to make sense to him: no Hopey cuddle time before bed, and/or not allowing Hope to sleep in his room at night. I also gave him some more care taking, Hope-related jobs such as feeding her in the morning and at night and giving her treats when she goes in her crate. He’s still a little rough with her, but more in a normal 5 year-old boy kinda way, and the kicking, at least in my presence, has stopped. Sigh of relief! Today’s hike was hopefully evidence that we’ve turned a corner on this phase, as S was his sweet, silly, playful self, especially with the pooch. I guess that’s how “sibling” relationships go! Ya love ‘em, ya hate ‘em. In the end, (crossing fingers), hopefully more of the former!
Last week’s Hike for Hospice was a wonderful success! Well, that’s what I’d really love to write and have it be completely true. Let me try again… Hikers were met by a stellar sunset at the top of the ledges trail last week as they raised loads of funds and awareness for Hospice Volunteer Services! Also not quite how it went, but doesn’t that sound great? OK, I’ll give it one more go. 10 hearty hikers met last Saturday in solidarity for Hike for Hospice, as they hiked up the Bristol Ledges Trail on a cloudy evening to enjoy each other's company. Now THAT statement is totally true. And it sounds, well, not bad at all. For now.
Have you ever pursued something when it was pretty clear that the timing was off? Of course you have. We all have! I think my efforts last week to rally troops up the hill in the name of an awesome cause came down with a little case of the bad-timing-blues. You know, when you have the best intentions and everyone says, Oh that sounds great, or Oh what a good idea, or I’d love to come and I’ll try to make it. And to you that sounds like a win, right? But inside, your subconscious also heard from well-wishers, Wow another thing on that really busy weekend, or Jeez I’m tired and would love a night at home, or I’m just really not into that but good luck! (I know. I do it too!) Yet you carry on, because, well it just seems like such a good idea.
So that’s where Hike for Hospice landed last week. Let me say that I truly had a great time hiking up the trail, as usual. I mean, how could I not?! My kiddo, husband and I and a handful of delightful people were on the trail soaking up the goodness of the Green Mountains and getting to know each other better on a Saturday evening. Good stuff - nay, great stuff!
Through this process I have learned a lot. On the short list are things like listening to my gut instinct, setting better boundaries for myself, and having faith and believing in my path. Ultimately I’m grateful for the learning experience, even if it seemed a bit more like a growing pain than a successful fundraiser. I don't mean to get too deep on y'all, but I believe that things unfold as they are meant to, even when it might feel frustrating or disappointing at times. That's just how I roll. I'm walking away with some golden nuggets from the process, like how I feel wiser and closer to understanding why letting go of expectations for an outcome is helpful, cleaner, more grounded. I'm looking forward to trying again next year. Onward and upward!
On my hikes this last week, I began to see bits of evidence here and there that we are indeed getting closer to Fall. With school starting and vacations wrapping up, I realize this seems obvious, but it really does help me shift gears when I bear witness to nature’s subtle shifts as the year goes along. The darkest greens have now settled in as the trees hold on to the last of their chlorophyll of the season.
A little fun fact I discovered on the interwebs today: cooler temps don’t actually have anything to do with when the leaves start to change. Its all about the light, which is why leaves change at a relatively similar time each year. Right about now, we’re losing around two minutes of sunlight a day, and by Fall’s Equinox it will get up to three minutes a day! The trees sense the shorter daylight hours and begin to form a corky layer of cells at the base of the leaf which cuts off many nutrients, including that green stuff we call chlorophyll. As this happens the leaves "true" colors are revealed. Cool, right? (This article was pretty fun and filled in some gaps for me.) The brightness of leaves’ colors during Fall has more to do with temperatures and water fall, and from my understanding, a drought can make for a less vibrant season. But mellow oranges and reds and browns are still lovely, so even if there are less shocking colors this year, it will still be beautiful.
I adore Fall! Its my favorite season. I certainly mourn the end of Summer a little… the heat, the playfulness, the relaxed schedules, the vacations and weekend trips and BBQs. Last week I was 10 miles of the coast of Portsmouth, NH, on Star Island, surrounded by the glistening blue Atlantic with no cars and wonderful friends and family. What a treat to totally, let, go, and PLAY. A perfect way to wrap up Summer.
But now I’m home, and the leaves are darker, and the nights cooler. S has started preschool and I’m starting to think about our new routines this school year, and finishing up the last of the backyard projects like our new fire pit (which I finally done!), and that darn garden fence (still lingering, but getting closer). And then there’s all that glorious Fall stuff that’s so nostalgic from my youth… apple picking, harvest festivals, Halloween costume dreaming, fresh veggies for days, that 1 new back-to-school pair of shoes, cozy sweaters (but only at night), running through crunchy leaves, etc. As a grown up, there are some fun additions like canning, making soups, new voice students, a new therapeutic music internship, and gearing up for indoor crafting projects (this year its birch bark!). I could go on an on!
This year there’s a special addition to the Fall line up… a fund raiser for Addison County’s Hospice Volunteer Services (HVS) called… dun da da DUN! Hike for Hospice! (This is an idea that's been brewing in my mind for a while as I've been hiking week to week...) If you’re in the area, please join me on:
Saturday, September 17th, at 5:30 PM**
We'll meet at the trail head for a sunset hike up the ledges trail. Suggested donation is $10. You can hike in honor of a loved one who’s passed, or just come out to support HVS. Its sure to be a wonderful hike!
**Yes, this date and time have been edited. I had originally thought 9/10 at 6PM was going to work best, but I didn't quite have my act together so I'm giving it a bit more time.
Over the next few weeks I intend soak up every last bit of Vitamin D that I can. The river might seem a little less appealing, with slightly cooler temps but I don’t care, I’m going in anyway! Soon enough, it will be a frosty frozen wonderland around here again. So instead of focusing on what’s way down the road, I’m just gonna keep hiking and loving what is, and allow myself to slowly turn towards Fall.
Its true. Since I was a wee lassie, I have been a marvelous procrastinator. Not something I'm particularly proud of, but something I've learned to not to beat myself up about too much anymore. You know that mean, icky voice inside your head that makes you feel like crap? I call mine The Judge, (aka The Almighty Ego) and woo-wee that witch knows how to be pretty cruel when I'm trying to get something done and its crunch time. I mean, procrastinating is not something I'm not particularly proud of, but at the ripe old age of 40, I've learned that life is way too short to waste my time feeling guilty and listening to that nasty Judge when she gets all... judge-y. In my defense, I DO get things done, I just tend to let the pressure build till I feel the fire and then work right up until my deadline.
These days my deadlines are ones I've created for myself. This Friday, my family and I are taking a vacation to Star Island (off the coast of New Hampshire and part of the Isles of Shoals) for a week. This summer my goal has been to finish all 10 required books and reports for my therapeutic music certification before we depart for Star. As of this moment, I'm at seven. Soooo in the next few days I need to read and write about 3 books. As I type this out I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but I'm longing for victory and a nice relaxing vacation, so there's no doubt in my mind I will make it happen. Let's just say, if you don't hear from me otherwise this week, you'll know why.
I find it rather amusing, and also frustrating, that some old habits die so hard. I've thought a lot about procrastination on my hikes up the ledges these past few weeks. I will admit that when I have made a choice that something needs to get done, and it hasn't because I haven't made it a priority, it truly weighs on the mind and body, lurking in the subconscious. My hikes have been a little heavier, and try as I might not to listen to that darn Judge, she still packs a few extra bricks in my pack as I head up the hill. She's not all bad... The Ego often has our best interest at heart. She does seem to want me to reach my goals, she just likes to make digs and low blows along the way. Its times like this I'm reminded I still have some growing to do, and I appreciate that message. She says to me: "Ya know dummy, (I told you she was mean!), if only you'd do a little each day, you wouldn't have to carry these heavy bricks up the effing hill." So I say to her, "Madame Judge, I have made a choice to be compassionate with myself... can you please make your point in a more kind way so I can hear your wisdom?" She sighs but then replies with an almost warm tone, "Darling, taking care of your goals a little each day will make your life easier, and you will have more room for love and joy and laughter." Hmmm. Good point, lady.
And so my week will be full, and I will feel the fire and get my tasks done, but I note this pattern of my youth rearing their heads in my grown up life. I also note that if I do indeed want to feel more love and joy and laughter, and create a life that I love from moment to moment, The Judge might indeed be right. Its kind of awesome to see and feel the internal work I've been doing in action: like practicing self-compassion. Its a wonderful feeling to know that I am capable of that, and when I make that choice, my inner self has some good juicy bits to share. Once the task of finishing my reports is checked off the list, and I move on to the next goal (completing my aromatherapy certification and all the homework that comes with it), I hope I can work The Judge's suggestion into my day to day life a bit more.
To my good friend, Melanie Kessler, who has challenged me to write an epic blog post, this one is for you, my dear.
Yes. My past two hikes have, indeed, been epic adventures... According to Dictionary.com... "Epic: noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style." (For an extra giggle from UrbanDictionary.com, take a peek at their interpretation of *epic* here.) How dare I attempt to live up to such a description? Well, how dare I not? I mean who doesn't want to be the hero of an epic blog post when called to do so? I sure do! Thus, on to the adventurous tales...
Well, on to them in a moment. I am first compelled to pause and tip my hat to a fellow hiker and much beloved member of the community, Matt Dibley. As some of you know, Matt died a few weeks while hiking in Lincoln, VT. I did not know Matt, but as a fellow hiker, his story has struck me deeply. To his loved ones, may you find peace.
A week ago, Tuesday, it was a glorious, Vermont, summer day. And what could make a glorious, Vermont, summer day even better? Hiking with your new dog! Our family has adopted the most gentle, sweetheart of a dog. I introduce to you, the one and only, Hope! We don't know much about her past, but she's a rescue from Passion-4-Paws.org, and we couldn't be happier with our pooch. We're guessing she's 2-3 years old, looks like a mini yellow lab (with who knows what else mixed in) and has the cutest crooked smile with a snaggle tooth to boot. She has the most gentle nature, and is a 100% people lover. So much so, that I feel I must train her to be a therapy dog so she can join me on my therapeutic music adventures and provide a little extra lift to those in need. I was a little nervous to take her off leash on the trail at first, but sweet Hope wouldn't go more than 10-20 feet ahead without bounding back to me for an ear-rub. Seriously. 20 feet, ear rub. 20 feet, ear rub. That was until she saw another human on the trail, upon which she couldn't help herself and gently ran up to them for an ear rub. Hope and I gained a lot of experience with this routine that day because we hiked the trail twice in row. Ummm, Mama unknowingly dropped the leash at the top of the mountain. But Hope didn't mind at all, and to tell you the truth, neither did I.
So how do you top a hike up the ledges with your brand new doggie? How about an impromptu full moon hike up the ledges with your girl friends! A few nights ago after a chill dinner on the deck with friends, the aforementioned Melanie Kessler tossed out the idea of a full moon hike. (Well, it was technically the night after the full moon but, shhhh, who's counting?) I hesitated - you mean right now? I haven't done the dishes, I haven't put S to bed, I'm tired... Wait, hang on a second here, did you say a full moon hike on a stunning summer night, just us ladies? HELL YES! And we snuck out before our husbands could change their minds. But it gets better. On our way to the trail head we ran into the lovely Jess McGlynn, who promptly dumped her bike, kissed the kids goodnight, and joined the crew. And who's house should we happen to pass next but the lovely Becca Kodis, who was just wrapping up meeting she'd hosted for Mari Cordes (running for Vermont House - and whichever way you lean, be sure to vote on August 9th!). So a party of 4 were we, (I had to leave the amazing Hope at home to appease my 4 year old), and we gleefully took to the trail at sunset on a full-ish moon.
With enough natural light to make it to the top, I huffed behind these 3 mamas who are in far better shape than I. Sweaty and smiling, we sat at the view point and paused our conversation for a moment to hold hands in a circle and smile at the sky. Women's full moon circles have been going on since many, many days of yore, and in our way, in that moment, we touched an ancient ritual. The moon was still hidden from sight but the sky was lit up with the afterglow of the sunset, mixed with hints of the moon-rise happening through the trees. After a little while, with the help of one head lamp and the glow from my phone, we scuttled back down in the dark, invigorated from the hike. We talked about Matt with reverence and sadness, and I'm sure our prayers to his friends and family were carried through the night forest.
There might not have been any dramatic music or scandalous love affairs, but with Hope and the moonlight as our hero/ines, this is what epic looks like in my life these days, and boy does it feel good. I hear our theme song to the movie re-make of this tale as a fiddle, banjo and guitar with some rich vocal harmonies, vs. an orchestral score with a tense melody, but hey, a story worthy and epic nonetheless!
July always makes me feel like summer is really, truly happening. School has been out for a few weeks, temperatures steady and seem to become more predictably warm, (though hahaha this weekend is wet and rainy - go figure!). 4th of July weekend really kicks the summer in to high gear with parades, BBQs and weekends on the trail, beach or lake. This morning while hiking with my husband, I noticed the leaves have lost their lime green spring-ness and are turning a more mature shade of deeper, Kelly green. Not quite the ultra-rich greens of late summer yet, but slowly working their way towards it.
This steady growth and development in the forest couldn't help but lead me to reflect upon my son's recent growth as well. S, (not sure why I feel the need to protect his name but for some reason I do), is 4 going on 5, and growing like one of those hidden acorns or maple seedlings that pop up in your garden right before your eyes. I know all moms think their kid is smart and awesome and gorgeous and I'm certainly no different. Sometimes I think I actually forget he's a kiddo because he's so articulate and conversational, so mature. But in an instant, he can so easily remind me that, like the green of the forest, he has a ways to go before the next season.
This week was his first experience at day camp. He's been going to daycare since he was 6 months old, and this past year started one day a week at a wilderness preschool. So I thought we'd give a week of camp a go this summer, you know, given that he's so mature and all. Let me tell you, that drop off was one of the hardest days I've had in ages! For us both, really. It was a full on showdown, from the moment he woke up. The previous week was camp this and camp that, I'm such a big boy, and I can't wait for Chipmunk Camp! Yet come the morning of - no freaking way was he going without a fight! I was required to be sweet, patient, bribing, coercive, demanding. And then, after an hour and a half's worth of attempts at a jolly, all-smiles drop off, I left my 4 year old in the middle of the forest with perfect strangers, kicking, screaming and tightly held while I not so narrowly escaped to head off to work.
So here's the thing - and I know you won't be shocked by this - he survived! (and so did I - barely). He cried and writhed like a baby, (and so did I - probably me more than he did.) I won't deny that that walk up the hill to my car was simply wretched, with his wailing literally echoing in the forest and tears poring down my face. But at the end of it all, I couldn't be prouder because he stayed all day, making the best of it, and even went back the next day with no fuss. All week as a matter of fact, there was no fuss nor tears as he blew kisses to me while standing on an old tire each time I drove away. The lovely group of teachers from ReTribe took my kiddo under their collective wing while he stretched and grew and matured a little more this week. And so we both crept a little closer to his 5th birthday and my 41st. And so we waded through a week of mid-Summer and new experiences while the leaves of the Hogback Ridge grew greener and darker. Whether or not we're a little wiser for it all, who can really say, but I know for certain I wouldn't have it any other way.
Hi, my name is Ali Dawson Gibson. I'm a healer, a singer and a teacher. This Blog, 52 Weeks of the Ledges, is from 2016 when I hiked this awesome Bristol Ledges trail once and week and shared my experiences. Enjoy!