Friday, July 19, 2013

Stone Quiet

Gravel under tire, Prrer, grrrrerr  trrrer, crrrrrrr.
Engine cut, Hisssss.
Door SLAM, door open, rifle through: papers, bags, car seat pockets…
Move stuff, find stuff, touch stuff, look around,
Grab stuff, unstuff, shove stuff in
Door SLAM, backpack hoisted.
Rock, pebble, dust, kicked up.
Step, step, step.
Tinkle, clink, tinkle, click, tinkle, click. Medalions bouncing on my neck, saints alive.
Water spigots on the green, whizza-shhhoooosh, whizza shhhoooosh, whizza-shhhoooosh. shhhoooosh. shhhoooosh.
Clomp, clomp, step, clomp, step.
Tweet, chirp, whistle, tweet.
Rustle, rustle, blow…
Stop.  Sign in.  Write name, address, number in party, hiking destination, time in: pshhhhs   psshhhhh pssssh psssh clap click
Clomp, clomp, step, clomp, step.
Tweet, chirp, whistle, tweet.
Rustle, rustle, blow…
Brrrr Brrrrggggglllleee Bubble Brrrrggggglllleee Bubble

I notice the sounds as I seek to find my quiet.  My energy makes a frightening sound.  I pull into the parking place in St. Huberts, amidst trail heads for some of the most incredible hiking in New York State, and begin my journey.  I am in this great wide space, amongst trees, and green, and stone and rocks, some of the oldest on the planet, known to be close to one billion years old.  The Adirondack bedrock is made up of minerals and sediment built upon what was once the bottom of an ancient sea.  Anorthosite is the rock that makes up most of the High Peaks region. It is most commonly found on the moon.  I am certain it is quiet there as well. 

I have been filling my days with sound, in between the constant buzzing of my restless mind.  Or the sound and music might be another attempt to quiet my thoughts.   Music, is a new constant.  Recently, I shared over dinner with friends that this is fairly new, finding my taste, just for me, a luxury.  I am enjoying building my very own library and playlists and pulling up songs from my past and adding new sounds, and artists.  It might also be serving the purpose of altering the constant buzz of the upcoming quiet of a soon empty nest. That loud piercing screeching uncertainty of what’s to come?

But I am hiking, and I typically hike unencumbered by sounds. It’s worth noting I don’t run or go to the gym with out music to push me forward, faster, harder, keep on going. Hiking, however is more than physical, it is emotional and spiritual and I want the full experience of the woods.  Henry David Thoreau’s quote resonates with me,  "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived".  I started hiking the high peaks five years ago.  There are 46 designated as such by their height, 4000 plus feet above sea level. I recall many years earlier colleagues spoke of becoming 46er’s.  I was enthralled.

Age and angst and apprehensive living made it seem nearly impossible to hike these majestic mountains.   As time went on, however, I did not want to discover that I had not lived.  I took to these mountains, and attempted to reach a summit, here and there.  I made it.  I loved it.  I felt I was living, again, at least here.  As time passed and more summits were reached, I began to notice I was determined to live more fully in other directions.  It has been a process, and at times a fight, and sometimes I have come out on top, with a grander view, and there have been times that I have been beaten down by the stone of a thousand moons, or the tiniest of pebbles.

I have been all abuzz of late, and longer still.  Processing. Reflecting. Thinking through and over and painfully questioning choices and missed chances and spending too much time determining next steps, and old steps and missed steps.  So I go to the mountains to hike and kick up some dust and dirt and gravel and beat my struggles down into the dirt and moss and mud under my feet.  I go to the mountains to challenge my small body up to the summit 4057 feet above and the next, another 4020 feet, nearly 15 miles round-trip.

I have immersed myself in an intense writing project.  Coming to terms with a life stage reckoning and health issues and parenting and work and ordinary everyday circumstances to contend with keep me in a constant state of angst. Romance and risk taking in the very name of love or hope or faith has dulled and charged and opened my senses to vulnerabilities that at times felt warm and promising, frenetically charged, over the moon and back again.  Leading to more angst and questioning. I go to the mountains to calm the constant buzz that is me.  I go to the mountains to challenge my body into carrying the weight of me and my struggles until I can carry them no longer and release them to the rock face and tree line pillars, the pines and cedars and birch that make up the Adirondack High Peaks. 

The trails provide for me.  Challenges, distractions, risks that must be determined immediately.  Rock faces, and ledges and rustic ladders or cables that must be scaled to rise higher and descend.  Risks that I am prepared to take.  No time for thinking, and rethinking, and turning in my mind.  I can go forward strategically and carefully, or turn back.  Sometimes I can go forward with lightness and confidence and joy.  At times I go with will and determination and blind faith against my deafening apprehension.  At tree line I can see beyond myself.  At the summit I can see what seems like forever.  I make it, each time, quieted in the magnificence and height.  I am for a moment king of this hill? master of the universe? Woman on the moon, or at the very least this very moon-stone, Anorthosite

I make my way down before nightfall tired and nearly beaten.  Quieted in exhaustion.  My descent knocks me down, each time.  Differently.  Physically.  Knowing I will be restored by daybreak, after food and rest and a hot shower, a jump in the frozen black waters of Lake Champlain.  I am starting to discover it is maybe this easy to find quiet.  Or perhaps easier still.  Food, rest, the company of good friends, conversations, physical activity.  Knowing that the nest I created with tenderness, and perhaps too much angst, but much more love has nourished and fed and provided for others, will help me remember that I am ready to softly hear my own song, but only if I listen in quiet.