Montana Wolf

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandmother Tree

New moon. I drove west into the Sangres de Cristos with a fleeting worry: what if I didn't remember how to find Her? Driving up the canyon was like entering dream time...  I had been on this road many times, but it had been  eight years since she ordered me down the mountain to "write what is given."  And, grow my hair long. The book was finished and here I was. Worry subsided as I remembered the turn off the highway, put the truck in 4-wheel and started up the snowy gravel. I was on auto pilot... soon to park near the top of the mountain and begin my walk.

Lower Walk

Glory BE!
I wished I had brought snowshoes. Several inches of wet snow blanketed the ground. Instead of castigating myself, I turned slow-going into a meditation. A preparation to meet the Grand Dame of the forest. Apprehension and excitement grew as I wondered if she would be there. Had she been cut down? Had fire taken her? I rounded the final snowy corner to view a forest intact. She gallantly rose from the middle of aspen, oak, fir and ponderosa. Glory be, there she was!

My Tracks Stop Here
I approached her through the snow, leaned into her cinnamon bark and gave her a passionate kiss. All possible sitting rocks and logs covered, I took off my vest, laid it on the snow and sat against her large trunk. Her thick boughs spread to the heavens. She didn't say welcome home. She let me sit for awhile within her realm as I listened to snow falling from near-by pine branches onto crackly oak leaves. I stared into the cerulean sky, feeling the weight of the last two years... divorce, solo travel from Alaska to Mexico, living in the Montana outback,  the erratic mood swings of an alcoholic friend, the ecstatic sightings of wolf, lynx, moose and other wild ones. "You've had your butt kicked, haven't you?" she finally said. I managed a faint smile and sat in the stillness of the forest. "There are no wrong turns, Christina." A huge wave of relief washed over me as tears rolled down my cheeks.

I sat through the afternoon in the silent, still forest. The sunny day was punctuated with raven fly-overs. A few nuthatches hopped about the upper canopy. I took a sea shell and a grouse feather out of the pack, symbols of my journey, and left them at the base of her trunk. Sprinkled some tobacco.

"Take time. Take time. Take time to unfold the divinity," she said. "Own who you are."
Empty space enveloped us.

What a relief to head down the mountain, with gravity. Steps were easy-going; the forest brimmed with long shadows of the nearing solstice. Into the truck and down the road, I turned around to photograph a tinsel-wrapped descanso that  glimmered in the sun. I reached the town limits and felt suddenly starved; stopped for a Lota Burger green chile cheeseburger (yep! still delicious) and continued  to the house. It wasn't long before Rosemary showed up with my  tamales. She smiled wide; said my request for some heat had prompted her to put red chile into the masa for the first time. She was tickled with the results.

I closed the door behind her and unwrapped a tamale. It smelled divine. One bite confirmed she'd been successful with her experiment. Darkness enveloped the mesa as Geminid shooting stars trailed across the sky. I moved to my computer and without plan or forethought, ordered a new camera. Not a doubt in my mind, or spirit, that Grandmother Tree was winking up there on the mountainside.


(Details of my relationship with Grandmother Tree are spelled out in Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey, my latest book.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh wonderful, wonderful!
    And most wonderful, wonderful!
    And yet again, wonderful!
    And after that, out of all whooping!
    (As You Like It)
    Thanks for taking us along on this incredible experience!