by Zinta Aistars
That longed for day. That day that goes ahhhhh. That day that gives life a grain of sweetness, a smidgen of delight. That day that peels away the rhino hide and reveals new pink hope, smooth and as yet unweathered by the unkindest elements. That day that leads to two more that are all mine, all mine, greedy greedy greedy.
Maybe not all mine. Maybe not all pleasant. I foresee obligations and duties, travel through construction on the interstate (my weekends often involve travel), a bit of rush and bustle, and even a little work. Still. The day outside my office window late on a Friday afternoon shimmers with sun, and the breeze through the open window caresses like a velvet glove.
I want out.
My daughter e-mails me a photo of a tent among pines beside a lake. Did I not raise her right? Such torment. Child, how can you torment your good mother so? I think of the northern woods, and how long it’s been since I last camped. My favorite spot: the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Peninsula, Michigan, and a campsite located just beyond…. no, wait. You don’t want to know. It’s mine.
And I want to be there. Now. I may be somewhere around, give or take, midlife, but I can still throw a temper tantrum with the best of them. Tent. Now. North. Wanna go. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
Okay, that was ugly. My apologies. I’m still in the office and have no business behaving like a juvenile. But the heart swells with longing. My spirit aches for green and wild and cool and silent and serene and good earth. I forget how much I need it, and that may be part survival instinct among the cement we live in, but the need is real. I lose perspective, my priorities veer dangerously out of whack, the important becomes diminished and the unimportant screams in my face. Until I go to such green places. And sit quietly. And take down my civilized and dusty interior walls and open my self to that mother’s call that is rugged and bountiful Mother Earth.
My daughter understands. In fact, I raised her very right. I imagine she knows that one of my fondest memories is of our trip together some years ago, just prior to her leaving the nest, to the Rockies in Colorado. We slept in just such a pup tent. Chilly night at high altitude, drizzle all night, but the cold mountain stream just outside the flap bubbled and gurgled all night like a lullaby. We fit into the little tent like babies in the womb, each in our fat sleeping bag. Up at dawn, and when I peeked out from under the flap, there she was, Blondie with her hair pulled back, fussing over an already crackling campfire, oatmeal cooking in a pot.
At the foot of those mountains—the charming town of Boulder. My baby girl was about to go to college. She would stay, and I would go back to far Michigan. Crying all the way. But some tears are meant to be spilled. Returning to the natural world reminds us of this natural order of things, the rites of passage, the times of growing and letting go. The memory of our camping trip was our gift to each other, cherished always.
It’s Friday, and my grown up baby girl e-mails me photos of green places before she returns to her own work in another faraway place, all these years later. I am in my office in Michigan. She is in her office in Florida. And both of us, I know, are looking out the window…
("Friday" is a part of a 7-day series.)