The Balm of Feet in Dirt

Wyoming…a beautiful river at the base of mountain. Going this summer.
Meditative moment in a field of lupines

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.” – John Muir

This day, I will glide and sing. Want to join me?  The natural world has power, more than all of us. We step outside and there it is, go a little further, off the sidewalk, step onto a dirt path, a trail, the air changes, you change,  warmed by a planet beneath our feet, spinning round in the universe. The moment we shed the coat of the heated room, unfold from chair and screen, leave managing food, home and swiping everything clean, we are transformed. One last swipe at the dust thick on pottery once made by hand. Yes, long ago we put our hands to clay, slapped it free of bubbles and shaped it, fell into its trance, immersed our very being, became “one” with a gluey glob of earth, all hands and sensation- lost ourselves in the creative moment. Remember, losing yourself in clay, paint, poetry and dance? Or were those the very moments we found ourselves? Another high school shooter. Oh, once again our world in pain, self-inflicted, salty tears overfill our growing oceans. Head outdoors to unburden. Fresh sensation: birdsong, trickling water, wind in trees, feet on chilly earth, soft, hard or rocky heals. The smells of the moist earth are familiar, comfort, reassure. They are our scent, too as we are of her. Discover duff beneath the trees- ancient layers, trod for centuries by wholehearted wanderers like ourselves. Foragers, renegades, seekers who dared to wonder. Witness the wood rat build her dome of sticks, a bird carry a ridiculously long twig for its nest- watch as she weaves it with intuition and skill. A snake slithers to a stop on the trail risking its very life for a spot of sun. Outdoors we risk discomfort, grow tender with sensation. Commit to the experience. Let all else fall away, step out and keep walking, jog if you can. Feel your way touching bark, crunch leaves, grasp soft or prickly needles, furry leaves and granite boulders. Feel a vibration, a tumbling rage of something beyond. Wonder, seek and praise moments of beauty, notice what elicits joy, live for those moments, they fortify us, strengthen us as we will face, once again, what smolders in wait. We return with renewed presence and grace, clap our soiled shoes together and set them side by side like always. Head back inside renewed and connected.  As a child I was pushed out the door, with the slam of the screen, freed to roam, giving no thought to what my mother did while I was “out of her hair.” Today, after jogging up the roads, biking on rooted bumpy trails have left me in the dust, I walk. Walk and walk and walk. I move more slowly, but see more as the right knee creaks to limber, the left heel throbs, shoulders soften. In a grand outdoor amphitheater, a hawk opens the melody, calls our attention with an ominous whistle above the trees, a chorus of jays squabble in the oaks, ragged, a falling scramble of rocks and listen, its our own footsteps, 3:4 time percussive beat. This morning’s grand composition. On chilly wet days, misty mornings and warming afternoons our feet tap past familiar trees, narrow animal trails and tunnels through brush. We greet a bird, another, that squirrel, then there in the pasture, the same small herd of deer, a sprout of furred antlers, nubs sparkling with mist. Our neighbors. Now they stand and watch, casually bend to nibble grass.We are known.  Thank you to mothers who send their children out the door and slam the screen behind them. “Each step we take keeps our planet spinning. Seek her wisdom. Share yours. Walk slowly and tread softly.” Nancy Congratulations to Anna Shaw for winning my April sign-up contest. Your copy of @52 Reasons for Hope by Cathy Krizik is in the mail. 
Our hands in clay, our hands in sand, mud, water, our hands

Dance and Play

It’s so cold today in Billings.  The newscast reported wind, snow and -15 degrees.  Stay inside today.  Don’t go out to play. The park will still be there another day. Dance in the living room, jump off the couch, climb the backs of chairs and scoop dry beans in big tablespoons, pouring them into plastic cups of different sizes.  Dig your hands into the bucket and listen as the beans rain down.  That’s how it sounds in Bonny Doon today.  It’s raining.  Not too cold but we are in the clouds up here so it looks foggy.  The orange tractor glows hotly through the mist.  The rain rinses the mud from the tread of its big knobby tires.  You’d have liked helping me smooth out the new gravel near Grandpa’s shop.  Shelby and Geoff brought the dump truck two times and carefully driving very slowly, slipped past the shop, back by the hoop shed where the Echo Lake boat is parked. The back up beepers sounded like this: beep-beep-beep-beep.  Three of Geoff’s lug nut covers scraped off when he got too close to the retaining wall. Shelby waved and Metro had to get out of the way. We had to shout at him like this: “Move Metro. Move!” Geoff dumped two loads of small rocks called gravel and after he left I drove over the piles and used the tractor scoop to smooth them out.  Your feet will be noisy when you run back to play in the boat.  Maybe you’ll stop and sit down in the gravel and play.  I know that’s what you would do.  You are a sensory learner.  You organize your mind that way.  You dig, scoop and think.