I had a wonderful Mother’s Day, being loved and cared for by my husband and sons. The day prior, I had been out to brunch and observed several multigenerational families getting a jumpstart on the holiday over pancakes. It reminded me of the nagging longing that I have felt for the past 14 years of living in the Pacific Northwest.
I love where I live, but I am a plane ride away from any blood relative. As someone who grew up in a big family and lived walking distance to my grandmother’s house, it is not something I have fully made peace with.
Part of me wished that I could be sitting around a table with my mother and grandmother at that moment. I decided to do what I always do when I need to mentally regroup. I went walking in the woods.
My two-year-old and I headed to a familiar spot. My goal was to get in a decent walk with my son in the pack on my back. I made my way along a trail that leads to a big tree. You may think, “Really? A big tree will help?” Well, yes! This particular area had been a logging site for years, so most of the trees are quite young. But there is this one Douglar Fir that, for some reason, was left untouched.
Estimated to be 400 years old, it’s huge and makes the surrounding trees look like toothpicks. As I came across this giant, I stopped to take it all in: the immense base, the gnarly bark, and the towering height. I marveled at how this tree was here long before me, and how this tree will probably be here long after me. I thought about how, while I have my personal cares, crises and catharses, this tree is here in all it’s grandeur, unaffected by the woes of my world. It’s cares are more basic – having the essentials to sustain it. Do I have the essentials to sustain me? Yes. Absolutely! I felt better already.
As I continued on, I felt the weight on my pack shift. My son had fallen asleep, which was a good reason to keep going and burn some extra calories. I knew stopping would wake him. I approached a trail that I had attempted a few months prior. My intended destination was a group of small caves, but I never found them. My newly acquired nature boost prompted me to try again.
I took a different approach to the caves to see if they would be easier to find. On the way, I came across a party of female hikers: a grandmother, a mother, and a granddaughter. They were slowy making their way up the incline and identifying flowers along the way. We chatted briefly before I passed them. This time, my multigenerational encounter didn’t feel bittersweet.
Maybe it was because, out of the three, it was clear (by her cut calf muslces, her leading pace, and her good advice on the location of the caves) that the grandmother was the most fit and knowledgeable in her party. I was inspired to think that someday I could be the one with white hair hiking with my grandkids to the caves. That’s part of the reason that I love living where I do.
Not too long after, I found the caves. I must have blown right by them on my earlier hike when coming from the other angle. How do you miss caves in the middle of a trail? I made a mental note that if you are so focused on pushing to the destination, you don’t always see what is right in front of you.
Another passing family gave me the hiker scuttlebutt on a mama bear and her cub spotted near the caves an hour early. That was a multigenerational family I was not interested in meeting, so I made ample noise by singing to my groggy toddler on the way down.
John Muir wrote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” I went to the woods to connect to the Earth, to feel what I needed to feel, and to refocus on the beauty of my life. When I have questions, I know the answers lie within me. More often than not, the woods help me find them.
Where do you go to regroup and find peace?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit to the author.