The dogs are stretched out at my feet as I sit with a view out the kitchen door. Evening rush hour is in full swing at the feeders, and the sounds the birds make are familiar and comforting. Even though I don’t count on the natural world to be consistent, my connection to it is.
Being outdoors refills my soul. It took me a long time to understand and accept this. Standing in the sun under our apple tree, I am aware of a mantle of joy that lands like a whisper on my shoulders. Out in the wetlands with the dogs, my bones hum from the rich life cycles being played out all around us. Even in winter the connection is still there, while the water world lies dormant, waiting for the days to lengthen. At times of profound spiritual need I have stood, arms and heart open to the skies and have never been disappointed.
Today I simply felt empty and depleted after a family gathering this weekend that asked much of us all. The urge to be outside and walk through the woods with the dogs was overpowering. So I drove to the start of a long-unused road, and took it over an arm of Gap Mountain, toward Fitzwilliam. This road is still traveled by hunters, bears, deer and the occasional wood poacher who comes by truck.
The dogs and I have walked this road many times, occasionally all the way over and back and always in solitude. It has its landmarks: the cross-over for the Gap Mountain trail, lots of old stone walls, a dark and cool Hemlock grove growing in the moisture of converging mountain run-offs. There is also a house. It is an old brown shingled cape, sitting below the arm’s crest at the top of a rough-mowed field. There is a rusted pump out front. It has electricity, which comes in along a summer road that ends there. It has a nice small barn, with glassless window’s eyes looking out through the woods at anyone approaching from the back, the direction we come from.
This place never looks lived in, but it is not falling apart either. It feels quite benign, not lonely, as if it knows what its place is in the scheme of things out there. I stopped in sight of the barn to give us all a drink before turning around and then Aggie went on alert with a woof. There were people there! How thrilling to know the house is indeed alive. I peeped around the trees and saw the storms propped open for fresh air. There was a gleam of blue metal, a car. The dogs and I simply turned around and padded back up the hill, into the quiet woods and the way home. Goodbye house, until next time.