Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Out of My Snow Bound Tree

"I wish to grow dumber, to slip deep into woods that grow blinder with each step I take, until the fingers let go of their numbers and the hands are finally ignorant as paws. Unable to count the petals, I will not know who loves me, who loves me not. Nothing to remember, nothing to forgive, I will stumble into the juice of the berry, the shag of bark, I will be dense and happy as fur."
Noelle Oxenhandler

Thoroughly weary of cold and snow these days, I find my thoughts turning not to palm trees, oceans and gentle breezes, but to wildnesses north of Lake Superior. Just what is that all about?

What it comes down to is the simple fact that I am still crazy after all these years, still an untamed creature if there ever was one. In the depths of winter, I dream of doing again a wild thing done often when younger - donning a heavy parka, multitudinous layers of thermal underpinnings, wool trousers, boots and snowshoes, packing a tent and a camp stove, tucking my paints under my arm and heading deep into the woods for a nice long sojourn, far from the madding crowd. After forty years, winter wildnesses continue to call in voices at once plangent and clamorous.

It never fails. On dark winter nights, when the wind howls around the little blue house, I should be dreaming of tropical islands. Instead, I dream of sitting beside a campfire, snowy trees all around, a bright moon and a sky full of stars overhead. There are wolves and owls in the distance, and I am cold, but as happy as one wil(d)y old woman can be. Standing
among the snow drowned trees on the heights, I look south over the lake and its rocky shores; then I turn and look over forests stretching north for thousands of miles. Yes indeedy, I am home.

Times change of course. I am well past doing such a thing, too elderly to be trudging into the woods north of Superior for weeks on end, wearing snowshoes and packing all the necessities on my back. These days I would be carrying a digital camera rather than lugging the
old 4 x 5 view camera and a whole bag of associated equipment. My bones and joints ossify at the very thought of doing such a thing, and the inner crone is appalled.

Nevertheless, the dreams persist.
Some of the best images I ever captured were with the old camera looking out over the north woods. I may be out of my tree, but what a fine snowy tree it is.

8 comments:

One Woman's Journey said...

Oh Cate, I dream of the ocean, walking on the sand and fresh fish :)

Tabor said...

I like the cold much less as I have gotten older and can tolerate the heat a little more...but whether it is beach or woods I do like the isolation and quiet.

Sky said...

I will leave you to those shivering cold dreams! I prefer to think about spring coming 'round the corner with all her colorful goodies! I will rejoice in a new fallen snow but just as cheerfully bid it goodbye.

the wild magnolia said...

Wild once, wild always! :)

Beautiful sharing of night dreams and times gone only as far as our memory. The wild woman needs these memories, for she is tucked away inside the little blue house.

Winter is wild beyond the door, a crackling fire may warm the hearth, and yet, the wil(d)y old woman still dreams of winter beyond the door.

Great post!

Should I return to this earth I desire to be a person who believes as I do know, from my childhood, rather than coming to this in my older years. And too, I wish to find you while we are children, and grow our friendship from the very beginnings of life until we cross over the rainbow bridge. We will share family and heart and woodland.

Blessings, a ((hug)) sent to you on this fine day!

Cindy said...

I thought of sentinels...and Gandalf's hat when I saw your picture. :-) Both, full of power.....

Contemplative living said...

It is beautiful picture but a fantasy land for me. It has all sorts of magic but I am not likely now to see it in reality.

I would have loved to have known you when you were young, Cate, but your website provides a colourful haven for me as I age. It inspires me to see the beauty in my own daily world.

judy said...

"I may be out of my tree".. Hah! love it.
I get it, Cate. 60 some odd years of living in Ontario has caused me, as well, to find comfort and "I'm homeness' in forests, fir trees, rocks and black water lakes
rather than any where else on Earth no matter how warm and pretty.
Once, when I was alone and a wee bit lost in a wild place in Kauai, Hawaii..
and it was searingly hot and I was getting a little scared.. I remember calling to the fir trees around me, mentioned my fir tree friends back home(specific ones) as references! and asked for their help in shading me and helping me find my way. Funny, I found such comfort and familiarity in those trees.. not the beautiful palms and exotic greenery. And I remember thinking a few days after I was home, sitting on the rocks and looking out at a lake in Muskoka.. "ahhh, Kauai was a gorgeous island, but my FEET love Turtle Island!

Carolyn H said...

Funny, but I still dream of those days, too, and like you, I am a bit long in the tooth to attempt it again. I was reading my journal from one such trip (1978!) last night, and even at that young age, I complained a lot about how exhausted I was. Today, I only remember how beautiful and how silent it was.

Carolyn H.