Things Change

The other morning as I was looking up at the darkened ceiling, trying to be quiet, so as not to wake the at long last Sleeping Peacefully and Pain Free Partner and the Two Vixens in the living room, I thought about how the things I want to do have changed.   I used to be crazy about shoes, and want to go to Venice (Italy, please.).

Now I’d be happy to wear flip flops forever.  I’d still like to go to Italy.  But what I’d really like to do? Is go watch the bears in the river catching salmon up north.  There was a program on TV showing just such bears, and of course I got all excited.  The Partner, bravely living as he does in a Bear Infested House (lamps, carvings…sigh.), said, well yes.  They’re adorable, aren’t they? BUT.  Having been out in the wilds quite a bit, he’s actually encountered bears up close and personal.  The cuteness isn’t the first thing he thinks of.  Once, he said, he walked into a clearing and had one of those cartoon moments: He, the Mamma Bear, and two baby bears all saw each other simultaneously.  He and Mamma both screamed and ran.  The babies started to cry, which apparently was rather heartrending.  They sounded like babies, he said.  Well, what did you THINK they’d sound like?  Babies all sound like babies.  He tells a good story about a volvo station wagon that got stripped to its’ chassis in a remote parking lot.  Imagine the fun! When the owners hiked back from a challenging trip to find? Some curled up metal laying around stuffing and tires.

Anyway all this made me think of the times I’ve encountered animals in the Great Outdoors.  It’s an interesting experience because, for me, I know I’m getting some communication but of course, what is it?I often feel that way around people, also, to be fair.  But, looking into wild eyes is mesmerizing, on some level.  As long as you keep it VERY BRIEF.  Once in the Berkshires I was hiking around,  ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR BEARS.  OK, I was young and stupid.  I was at an artist’s retreat, taking a painting break.  Fortunately, I expect, I did not see any bears.  But what I did see was an extraordinary fox.  I was on a path of sorts and the fox was in a small culvert running along side, blanketed in buttercups.  I felt my arm get really hot, like a cigarette was burning it.  I looked down and saw the fox, gazing calmly up at me.  We stood there for a minute, then the fox very delicately stuck its nose into a buttercup, inhaled deeply, grinned (yes it did), looked at me and seemed to smile, and vanished.  Squirrels routinely jump into my lap, and once a lizard raced over to me from several yards away and rode on my hiking boot for a while.  The time that really stuck, however, was with a coyote.  I was lost in the mountains around where my parents live.  It was pitch black.  I was starting to think I’d have to sleep in my truck until daybreak since I was running low on gas.  Nervouser and nervouser.  Suddenly something glinted up ahead on the road.  It was eyes.    I stopped, rolled my window down as a coyote walked over to me, and then we looked right straight at each other.  Hello brother, I said.   I’m lost.  It seemed to me that the Coyote said something along the lines of, tell me something I don’t already know.  Follow me.  So, the coyote strolled out in front of the truck, in the middle so I could see him, kept looking back at me to make sure I was following along, and led me down one road, through a turn onto another, and finally to the main road I’d missed.  I stopped again, said thank you, and the Coyote tossed its lovely head in a, you’re welcome. Now git! kind of way.  

Which is to say.  The way humans think of what the world is is often quite limited.  We are not above everything else here, and it is not our “dominion”.  We are sharing it.  Those moments when you can actually experience what that sharing IS, are almost indescribable.  So, while I used to want to go shopping and all that kind of thing?  I thought I’d rather gouge my eyes out than go camping?  That all changed, and with that life fell into place in a way for me.  Of course the place it fell into is totally OUT of place in terms of the prevailing cultural winds.  But it feels so much better.

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