“A place is not a place is not a place. Places assume meanings as we interact with them; as we accumulate experiences and memories in them; as we gain knowledge about them; as we evolve relationships with them; as we become familiar with them and comfortable in them. There is a world of difference between a place as partner in a lasting relationship, and a place considered as just a photographic subject.” ~ Guy Tal
The only time I drag out my snowshoes is when I am trapped at home because our road is impassable. I can only do so much home yoga practice or spinning on the bike in the dark basement before I have cabin fever and MUST GET OUTSIDE. So it was, yesterday afternoon, the sun shining and water dripping off the roof, I strapped on my snowshoes and went into the woods. With all the rain that had drenched the deep, deep snow, it had the texture of a sno-cone. Instead of walking on top, I sunk down deep, the snow over the top of my boots, and my hiking poles floated rather than giving me support. Nonetheless, I trudged next door and had a merciless cardiac workout going up the steep, unplowed road of our absent neighbors. I stuffed my mittens into the pockets, tied my jacket around my waist, and counted it as decent exercise.
But, I loved coming back down. I went into the trees and followed the deer paths. Each time I ventured out of their trail, I stumbled over hidden rocks and logs, and admired that they knew where to plant their skinny legs in deep snow. I saw a little black squirrel nearly fly from tree to tree–I haven’t noticed them all winter. There was Irish green moss growing out from beneath ice on big rocks. The sun sparkled on the lake in the distance, and for the first time in months, I remembered what it smells like in summer when the sunshine warms the pine needles down by the water. And, I thought about this “place” I call home, and how Fletcher, my oldest grandchild, at nearly 16 years of age, has no memories of me living anywhere besides the lake house. All my six grandchildren know me in, and of, this place. My relationship to it is deep and profound, whatever weather trials and tribulations blow my way.
And, the trees, the “standing people”, always have a message for me, if I am quiet in their midst.
What do the tall trees say
To the late havocs in the sky?
The air moves, and they sway.
When the breeze on the hill
Is still, then they stand still.
They have no fear. Their fate
Is faith. Birdsong
Is all they’ve wanted, all along.
Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir
The road is now sanded. I can get out. But, the lessons were in here.