I hope this will be a quick post. It might not be, though, but! I have errands to do but feel that it would be neglectful to not post.
A massive Pacific storm rolled across the Hill Country this week and has dumped rain for almost six days. Beautiful, soft grey skies and rain of every form: mist, fog, drizzle, deluges, soft and silky. My husband, who is from Costa Rica, sometimes calls it un pelo de gato—light, soft, constant rain.
I had a bill to deliver to the front office of our apartment yesterday, and I decided to walk despite the weather. Drips fell from the trees and the entire world seemed green–unnaturally green, glimmering like an emerald. On my way back from the office some voice inside me said: go for a walk, at that secret little park.
What? I fought it for the two minutes it takes to reach my apartment and then decided to get on my hiking gear before any other naysaying voice could convince me other wise. I suited up in my ‘seal skin’ runners pants, rain repellant hiking pants, water-proof boots and rain jacket with hood. And off I went.
To say it was worth it is a gross understatement.
The crunch of my boots on the gravel seemed unbearably loud. The only other noises were the drips of rain off the oak trees and the occasional call of a bird in the mist. Rain pattered softly at first, though sometimes a random deluge made me seek shelter under the junipers.
For the first time in a long, long time I felt the same mystery I used to feel upon entering a forest or some solitary, natural place. A sense of…breathing, of energy, of connectedness, of life. That these things weren’t dead or immaterial, that they belonged. This was their place. Not that it wasn’t mine, but we shared it. Cohabitation.
I wanted a rock to take with me, a token of this experience. It seems almost silly now—a spiritual souvenir of some sort—but at the time it felt important. I see now (love that 20/20) that it taught me a valuable lesson about being a taker. See, every time I spotted a stone that seemed a likely candidate, I couldn’t bring myself to take it. Sometimes the rock had a little succulent growing under it. Other times the rock stood part of a circle, or supported fuzzy moss, or was just there, sitting, and I couldn’t bring myself to even move it. As silly as this sounds…that was where that rock belonged. That was its place. I didn’t have a right to just take it. And what a human, stupid, selfish response to something beautiful. Take it as if it just belonged to me.
In the end, I did take one. It sat on the side of the gravel path with others that had been kicked over by other hikers and runners. I picked it up, and later a stick and a fallen bit of juniper branch on the pathway back. They sit on my porch now, and I’m surprised that I still feel a bit of guilt over taking them. Maybe I’m overthinking it.
Or maybe I’m not.
I mulled over taking the entire time I was out there, except when I mulled over the fact that my place—the Hill Country—is a unique kind of place. It is full of limestone and juniper, shrub and cactus, heat and dust. I gave thanks for the otherworldliness of the water-pocked limestone, invasive juniper, spiky prickly pear and the oaks dripping with moisture.
My mind is kind of mushy right now, and this post didn’t come out quiet like I wanted. How could it? Describing profound experiences is like trying to hold on to water or sand…I’m convinced it’s not really possible, as they are so unique to each person. So I’ll leave it as is. Know that walking in the rain yesterday impacted me in some profound way, and along with Imbolc earlier this week, I have even more to consider—and having much to consider brings me joy, now, not confusion or grief.