Great Love

Daily Prompt: That’s Amore, by Krista on March 18, 2014 Think of your longest relationship: describe how your love has changed over time, did you go from the giddiness of infatuation, to mad passion, to deep respect, esteem, and friendship? Tell us about your love story.

“God no.”
“What is it now?”
“I’m supposed to write about ‘luv’.”
“Oh babe, that’s not your métier.”
“Perhaps the Daily Prompt is not my métier.”
“I’ve been wondering about that. So? What has been your longest relationship?”
“With life. Nature, actually. Godnose it hasn’t always been easy and it has definitely followed this trajectory.”
“I think they want you to write about a RELATIONSHIP with, you know, like a PERSON?”
“Yeah, well, honestly left side, those are pretty personal, aren’t they?”
“And your life story ISN’T?”
“Less, actually. I’m a writer, after all. Everything I write will tell something about my life story. If it’s any good, I mean my writing. I know my life story’s good.”
“Thanks for sparing me that smiley face at the end of that sentence.”
“Any time.”
“So, make this work. Quit messing around here and write.”

giddiness of infatuation
“When I discovered I could run, and became old enough to perceive the beauty of the world, I was really in love with life. The family was good — no cataclysms yet — and I liked going to school, I liked pretty much everything. I remember a moment, I was 10, in Denver visiting my Aunt Martha. We went to see Oklahoma and this song just CAPTURED my little girl feelings about life and the world. I can’t sing and sure couldn’t sing this, but I did anyway.”

I spent most of my childhood developing this relationship. Hiking in the woods, running through the tall grass, sledding on the forest trails. Anyone who thinks Nebraska is boring hasn’t really BEEN there.”
“Nebraska? You said Denver.”
“I know. Sorry. We LIVED in Nebraska, in a small town by the Missouri River. We came FROM Colorado and the blessed mountains. In fact, when I was a little kid — maybe two — my dad held me up and showed me the Front Range. ‘Those are the Rocky Mountains, MAK’. It’s a lucky kid whose dad gives her the Rocky Mountains.”

 to mad passion
mission-trails-regional
“The relationship grew stronger through the years becoming ‘mad passion’. Yes, there were some years when I didn’t ‘go out’ in nature (not knowing, yet, that nature was busy in me). Dark times in a way since I belong outside under the trees and open sky (as a Spanish gypsy told me reading my palm in front of the Castello Sforza in Milan). But when I was 35 I got my first dog, Truffle, and began hiking in Mission Trails. That opened a whole new life for me in so many ways but the lessons I learned on the trails? Those became God’s love letters to me.”
“So you believe in God?”
“I’m a panantheist.”
“Ah. Well there we go. So how did this passion manifest itself?”
“Hiking every day, long distances in a landscape most people saw as ‘empty’. It was not empty. It returned to me every caress. It exacted a sacrifice — dogs killed by ra_MG_4453ShootingStarFlowers_crcn_sm-732312ttlesnakes — but I believe they were willing sacrifices. The chaparral landscape offered me a home and I loved it with all my heart. It gave me wild lilac blossoms fallen on a damp trail of red dirt; coyotes drinking from a stream or yipping to me in the darkness; screech owls in the sycamore trees at night; a road-runner running inches in front of me up a steep trail; ravens surfing the thermals; red-tail hawks following Truffle and Molly along a ridge, waiting for them to flush out rabbits; it gave me friendships and magic and every small flower that grows in every hidden valley, falling-stars, johnny-jump-ups, owl clover, poppies, chocolate lilies; it gave me the ephemera of vernal pools, sunsets and lupine.”

Deep Respect and Esteem
CedarProgressfiremap_000“And then?”
“Three events, nested within each other. I moved out of the city to the town of Descanso (look on the map) to engage in longer hikes in the mountains. I did not know that nature had prepared for me a huge change of life. I had worn out my right hip in my passionate love affair with hills and speed. But something else was happening. Nature has its rules. It “sets” boundaries based on laws of physics and chemistry, so when an idiot sets a signal fire in the dry chaparral because he’s lost and scared, he might start a fire that ends up burning thousands of acres, killing people and destroying a wilderness. Soon after I moved to the mountains, this happened, and I saw nature doing what nature can do. I honestly loved it more for that, for it’s extremely violent insistence that people NOT fuck around but pay attention.”
“What happened?”
Mt_Laguna_Camping_08+154“For me it started when I was sitting on the top of Garnet Peak. Suddenly a Santa Ana rushed up the canyon and hit the wall of the mountain like a thunder clap. It was fantastic. I went home and woke up the next morning to even more wind. I drove into town and saw the hillsides were on fire. It was beyond belief. I bought what I’d gone for, noticing and not noticing the terrified expressions of those around me. Once home I painted my bathroom. I’d only lived in my house 5 weeks and that was a chore that needed doing. A wall of smoke was visible above the hills to the east. I listened to Mohammed’s radio (no radio or tv in my house) to learn what was going on. Early the next morning we were evacuated. I was gone for almost a week. When I returned, an entire wilderness, trees hundreds of years old and the southernmost indigenous redwoods had been destroyed. When I had driven down to San Diego the second day of the fire, I drove between walls of flame.”
“And your love continued?”
“Oh yes. Nature didn’t do that by itself. A man started that fire.”

Deep Friendship“And now? Have you arrived at Deep Friendship with this enigmatic force?”
“There’s nothing enigmatic about it. It is what it is and while I do not completely understand it, I know it is in and of me. I am it and it is me. People leave our lives one way or another; they die or move or we have differences and confusions. In all the sorrows and joys of my life, nature has been there for me. It doesn’t “care” about these things, or have any “personal” feeling about me, but it is constant and beautiful. Those are great qualities in a love, I think. Here…”

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And gentle sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware…

“What’s that?”
“‘Thanatopsis’ by William Cullen Bryant. All of it is beautiful, but this is nature’s magic. At the end of the poem are instructions for accepting and dealing with ones own death — nature’s last call. Bryant says;

Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolv’d to earth again;
And, lost each human trace, surrend’ring up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to th’ insensible rock

That is OK with me. To be one with geology after having had the chance to spend a lifetime perceiving geology? That’s very lovely, in my opinion. There are times in my life I would have been — and felt — completely alone without a wild place to walk in, without some clouds doing a never-before-seen color show at sunset, without the bluebird calling back to me in the afternoon. My life has been — according to some friends of mine — ‘harrowing’ but it never felt that way to me. In my most scared and lonely times I could run across a meadow and throw my arms around an ancient oak tree or turn around on a mountain trail and see a lone coyote had joined my small procession of dogs — though at a distance. In moments of bleakness or confusion all I had to do was head up a mountain and there would be something waiting for me — a hovering hawk, so low I could look him in the eye, a flower I’d never seen, a low growing shrub with an amazing fragrance, a rosy boa dropping from the beak of a passing raven landing unhurt on the trail in front of me, floods and fires. Nature gave me a body and five senses. “Here is how to reach me,” it said. My friend — my love — has given me everything and all I had to do was meet nature halfway without fear.”

A hymn from my Baptist childhood that I still love:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

13 thoughts on “Great Love

  1. An excellent piece. The force of nature – as interfered with occasionally by man. Nature will always prevail, even if it has to become destructive itself to do so.

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