Sunday, August 16, 2009

going with God

honoring the inner mountain man

right now I’m all by myself along the creek
at the edge of the national park,
my companions? a pen & my writing pad,
and the peaceful feeling the natural world wraps around you
as day slips away toward dusk,

I love connections with others--
making the connections,
servicing them,
caring about the body politic,
helping the body electric learn,
yet before the school year pulls me into its whirling wheels,
I need some time when I move across the mountains
with no obligations to another,
well, rather, acknowledging my connections to all that is not us,
but that which is before us, with us,
and that which will probably transcend us,

tomorrow I climb the great mountain above me
so that I can be open to how many companions and teachers I can have
when I seem to be alone,

as the new day has just begun
I near where I’ll park the car
and a bear is browsing where people have parked,
he turns from me, with a studied indifference,
as if he is an upperclassman and I a mere freshman,
nothing in his demeanor tells me that I matter,
I park and start toward the trail
and a family of wild turkeys fills the way before me,
mom and dad and a bevy of young
whom I saw two months ago
and who have doubled with summer’s plenty,
I sing to them of morning breaking
and that helps me be but a mild irritant to their foraging,

I push my body and spirit hard
and climb up & up, the air still, my sweat profuse,
rock and wood empty of my kind but for me,

as I come out of the wet rich cove onto the drier open ridge,
I startle 3 bear cubs who scamper up trees, with alarmed sounds,
and their mother alerts herself to see if she needs to deal with me,
I sing to them of morning breaking,
my pulse faster than with the turkeys,
the cubs scamper down and dissolve away into the heathy wood,

on the ridge the morning sun lifts my spirit,
though I do look behind me to make sure
the bears are off on another adventure,

I work my way steadily up the mountain,
appreciating each turn and even the occasional hiker,

when I crest the high ridge I celebrate the sunny divide,
the trail now almost level and flowers abound:
pink turtlehead and grass of parnassus force me to stop and savor them,

I get to the main top, leave two rocks at the summit,
a symbol of rising against gravity,
honoring my legs’ work the last few hours,

I say “hello” to friends at the lodge,
replenish my liquids, snack some,
and drop down the mountain,
stopping and stopping the first half mile

to photograph Indian pipe

and spruce-fir in the mist,

the way down mostly the effort to just get back to the start,
though I can feel the gestalt of the mountain’s shape
and the wit and work of the trail crew who built the way,

then, in the car at the bottom, I have to stop
for the bears I startled a third of the way up the mountain
are now climbing and playing at the mountain’s base,
up & down the sassafras trees they scamper like monkeys

and snack on berries I never knew even existed:
a round red berry morphing into an oval purple berry at its top,

the bears’ purple scat punctuated with red berries now makes sense,
a crowd of us can’t tear ourselves away,
though I finally do--

I have one more day here
and then I’ll answer the calling from the lowlands,
where calling and partner await,
and complete important parts of me.

by Henry Walker
August 13-14, ‘09

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