Water lapping rocks,
The fish, the canoe, the sunrise,
The snake presiding.
We the journeyers have come these long and many miles. Long and many hours. Days of months and years in the past, planning. Wishing. Hoping.
Our friend has told of us of a place where she is only always fully happy. More alive than in all other surrounds. And we yearn for this. To see her this way. To join her and become like kind. So we think and prepare and plan. But the floor falls out and we remain. Once, twice and again. But this time, unlike every other time, we meet with success. Bags are packed, food is purchased, maps are made and excitement builds.
We leave in stages. Trickle out from our homes over the span of days to rejoin in this almost heaven to the north, east. Our car is heavy laden. We set out as the tail, acquire more passengers at stops while we travel and come nearer to the line of disconnect. The artificial place between nations made real by a man with a funny name sitting in a well lit shack who holds the power to send us back again. But he is content with our place of residence, our strange combinations of occupations. He allows us to continue.
Now into the darkness. We have gone far east to go north to this portal and we must wind again west to our destination. A side road with a strange name. Gravel. We are all searching, scanning, excited though exhausted. Giddy. And it is here. The overfilled car scrapes rocks while we follow landmark directions in a landscape lit only by headlights. Where are we now? Have we farther to go or too far! too far!? But ahead there are flashlights. Friendly voices. We have come home to the place we have never been before.
We mount up like pack mules and walk the trail by moonlight. And from over the crest around the rocks the sound of familiar laughter. There is light and warmth within the cabin and outside moon-glimmer on the ripples of the lake. We shuffle and shift into bowers and nests and temporary shelters for the night. It is past the time for sleep but we are safe and loons are singing us lullabies.
The sun wakes us and the voices of children, eager to explore, to start the day of adventures. Together we shake off sleep, start coffee, bacon, eggs, pancakes. Juice and fruit come out and all is prepared with love and conversation, eaten in shifts and followed with washing. We are content and filled with happiness as with food.
Now there are canoes and swimming and a snake basking on rocks and docks as if he owns the world. We have come to a time of shifting and changing from one form of physical pleasure to another. The sail boat comes out and another canoe. Islands are circled by arm power- swimming, paddling. Spurred on by young voices. At one island, just off the sight line of the closest dock is a rock left long ago by this glacier or that. It towers up from the water and below it is a space deep enough to allow jumping. Here fear and freedom mix. From a crack in the rock a juniper has grown up, twisted and battered as all rock-bound trees become with age. It's one horizontal branch the obstacle to jump over to miss the rocks below. Some choose to remain dockside. Others climb and shiver in the pine shadows while they wait for a turn, whether firmly planted feet and a plunge or a quick one-two-step-jump and up-out-over. Many attempt, succeed. One leaves Terra firma inches too soon and kisses the branch mid fall. Pain yes, rocks no. Another tries, approaches, talks, fights, cries, backs off, tries again. Agonizing hours of fear-facing with never enough of the right kinds of courage at the same time for that last inch of leap. Others wait, watch, encourage in shifts. Late lunch comes and goes and finally the decision is made to descend on foot unsuccessful but undefeated.
The sun continues tracing the sky while we swim, sail, paddle. And each at odd times drops out for a bit of rest, a snack, a sun-fueled nap or pages of a book to turn. Always a steady backdrop of toads, cicadas and laughter. Once in a while a motor, a crow, a splash. A hike to a mica mine as a troop. Collections of small shiny rocks, a long dead turtle. Many millipedes with pink legs labeled "cute" by the wee ones and a host of unholy mosquitoes tolerated poorly. Frogs captured, snakes seen, and flowers picked for sharing.
The return means dinner. Here mundane mixes with the exotic in a flurry of chopping and love. Zabocayo. Wolf peaches. Mushrooms and garlic. The feast is put on and shared. Then we roll ourselves away from the table in darkness to the circle of fire and deep conversation up the hill. Hopes, fears, triumph and sparklers mix liberally with s'mores. The youngest nod off first, others following as exhaustion and aching muscles creep up from the blackness beyond the flames. The last two watchmen together take a canoe out on the shimmer-water. Talking and singing carries across the moonlit ripples as others sleep soundly, safely.
Morning comes more warmly than before, though not perhaps warm enough to warrant the dawn dip and wash of some of the group. Others listen to their screams of pleasure and cold with suspicion and choose instead to prepare breakfast and pack. To each his own form of sustenance made again by loving hands. Dark coffee, scrambled eggs, cereals hot and cold and chai tea. Then there comes a period of packing, stuffing, folding and closing up. Coolers and duffles find their ways up the worn and rocky path to the cars. Pictures are taken, together, alone. Digital memories for safe keeping and sharing. Smiles fixed forever and trees always in summer hues.
The last action before events become returning is a gathering of hearts and minds. The passing of peace one to another because the sadness of parting can be made less painful when stirred in with gratitude.
It is possible for the human heart to be so overcome with peace and joy that it overflows and bursts forth. Breaking and aching with the fullness of all good things. And when two or more of such gather together in this excess of love and life lived completely, it is magnified, multiplied. There is rest and renewal in the souls breathing deeply the fresh air of contentment, unity and love. We are one together, each heart. We desire it to be no other way.
We depart in caravan for the portal, this time traveling as a pack connected by waves and silly faces until we reach the other side and begin to separate to our various individual homeward journeys. An impromptu parking lot picnic lunch leaves mustard on a trunk and we wind westward through a maze of constant construction. Orange and orange and orange but never a man seen working. That this passage slows us is bitter sweet. We've hours and miles ahead but still one more parting. One more great goodbye. This extra hour means precious more time in conversation in the same location even if it is moving. This traffic is treasured though we know tomorrow morning will spring on us too quickly.
And then comes the time for tears. One last song of courage. Until we meet again.
Until we meet again...