Thursday, February 05, 2009

Friday Ramble - Forbearing

On a fine cold Friday morning, a view down and across the misty valley of the Clyde river in the Lanark highlands. Cassie and I walked among these pine clad coves and hills and valleys together for years, and there was something astonishing for us to witness every single time we went: an owl with golden gimlet eyes peering at us from the shadows, a flock of grazing wild turkeys at dawn, a hidden grove of gently nodding wildflowers. This year, it is Spencer and I who are walking here together, at least physically. My darling Cassie traveled beyond the fields we know late last summer, but she dances along beside us in spirit, for she has always loved this place.

In springtime, there are wild pink and yellow orchids blooming under the trees here, bloodroot, early lilies, trilliums and columbines on the sunlit hills; choirs of songbirds in summer, endless groves of fiery maples and golden oaks in autumn, groves of fragrant green-blue pines and spruces in winter. Winter has its own windswept wonders, but it is sometimes difficult to partake of them - the snow is often too deep for easy walking on such treacherous terrain, even on snowshoes. Spencer and I stand looking out over the hills together, and we dream of making tracks across the pristine waves and billows and rolling snow dunes in the distance.

What can one do when she is unable to traverse the winter splendors of her chosen place, the forest of her heart? She cultivates forbearance, and she remembers. She thinks of other magical times spent in these wild places and the dear companions who were with her - she gives thanks for the great privilege of having known and loved them. One of these days perhaps, my gratitude for having known and loved those who have already traveled on ahead will conquer the pain of losing them. I cultivate forbearance, and I wait patiently for that to happen, knowing beyond the shadow of any doubt that I shall walk these hallowed hills forever, and that my beloved companions will be walking with me.

The word forbear comes from the Middle English forberen, thence from the Old English forberan, both meaning to endure or to get through something, and to do so with grace and dignity. When we cultivate forbearance, we are exercising tolerance, patience, charity and restraint in adverse circumstances and times of provocation — we are treating our companions on this circular earthly journey (and ourselves too) with mindfulness, compassion, respect and forgiveness.

Forbearance and stoic endurance are imperative here, for we have been gifted with more snow and bitterly cold weather this winter than we have had in years, and there is still more to come. I am working on being forbearing - I am also assessing my stash of tea, counting the days until springtime and clinging to the thought that a good blizzard is a beautiful thing.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This might be the most singularly beautiful blog I have stumbled upon. Thank you.

Lynn McGrath said...

How badly do I want to visit the Highlands! -- and all because of you and your lovely prose and beautiful photographs. Thank you for provide me this continuous journey, albeit vicarious!

Lynn

Suzanne said...

Good heavens, Cate, I am moved to tears. You vision and your words are incredibly beautiful. Thank you.

Shell said...

One of my closest friends unexpectedly traveled beyond the fields we know as well last month. I am still trying to get a handle on this.
Your wonderful place he would have loved. Maybe perhaps he is traveling now with Cassie. She is showing him the beauty of your highlands.

Ben said...

just discovered your blog and it's one of the most beautiful ones i have experienced so far. your photography is amazing. your pics are pure poetry!

Katie said...

absolutely wonderful!

Quiet said...

Another beautiful photograph. I sense some quiet sadness in your words. The gifts you leave for us are priceless.

Cloudscome said...

Oh this is such a beautiful photo! I appreciate the lesson on forbearance too, as I am in need of this discipline this winter. There is grace in this.

Valerie said...

What a beautiful narrative to go with such a beautiful photo. Thank you.