|My " Outdoor Sister" Jane|
What I've noticed over the years is that the outdoor sisters behave a little differently than the outdoor brothers; I'm not about to say better - just differently.
It seems to me that the women of the outdoors I've had the pleasure of spending time with understand cooperation, collaboration, and compassion a bit better and put it into practice more often. We tend to teach, and share, and nurture each other along the trails.
Sharing was what this trip was about. Often, Jane had spoken to me about "her thinking rock" the creek beds and bottoms, the high limestone bluffs and secret karst caves where she had grown up. I got it- I knew - this was Jane's dirt church. This was who Jane was and what had given her a love of the outdoors.
|I could feel the change - this was the sacred ground|
What evolved was this touching note that Jane shared with me, and my photos of Jane, where she belongs; which in turn evolved into this post. Yet another collaboration between Jane and I- her words, my photos - I hope you enjoy Jane's reflections on going to her sacred place as much as I did!
The creek we traveled this week
As I am driving to work this morning after dropping my daughter off at school I realize that my spirit is soaring. I guess I am not surprised, the “after-glow” of spending a day in the woods is normal for me. My high usually lasts about 3 days. But this was special because I got to share the adventure with an “Outdoor Sister”.Yesterday I had the opportunity to take Gretchen Steele to my “Holy Land” or “Sacred Ground”. I haven’t lived there since I was 23, but I believe this place to be the root of who I am. I return regularly, because I have no choice. I am drawn back time and time again – often and regularly. Actually, I haven’t really ever left. And Gretchen is just one of those people who just “gets it” when it comes to the woods and the soul.I grew up in these “woods with water”. Luckily, my mother (being city raised) believed that as long as I was away from people, I was safe. So that meant years of discovering and wondering around a beautiful and unique wilderness from sun up to sun down.My mother and I had a system. I always wrote a note before she got up telling her what I had taken from the refrigerator (usually apples and hot dogs) and she blew the horn letting me know the sun was setting and it was time to come in. I returned from my daily romps covered in bug bites, browned by the sun and my kinky yellow hair tangled and matted with dirty sweat. I had so many bruises my mom wouldn’t let me wear shorts in public for fear people would thinks she beat me. Good thing the woods were empty back then or the discovery of a dirty 8 year old girl, alone in the woods could have made headlines. I can hear still her voice telling me to “go brush your hair or I am going to cut it off and get in the bath tub NOW”. I felt so brave back then, armed against all evil with my hunting knife and BB gun.
In the creek cut just down the bluff from where Jane grew upI have since traveled to many places, all over the world and still consider my childhood home the most beautiful place on earth. These woods are filled with landmarks of my past ponderings like love, family, hope, health, and spirituality. It is the place I think most clearly, and it is my soul. There are many people I have shared it with through the years, but few people that can comprehend the depth of meaning this place has for me. It is the place I was made and still, it renews me.Our day was filled with my pointing finger, “there is where I had my first kiss; that is where I sat for hours and sketched (leading to my current career); my grandparents ashes are scattered on that hill; that rock is my special place where I felt my first love and my first broken heart; that wet hole is what I used as a live basket for the fish I caught; there is a cold spring right here….” you get the idea, right?
Jane's "thinking rock"Since my parents sold the place a few years back, I have felt a little bit like an orphan. Luckily for me, some of the land keepers have allowed me to come back at my will. If they didn’t, I would probably get arrested for trespassing…. I’m just sayin’. Because I just can’t help it, I am pulled there.
Jane sending an update to our other outdoors sisters- sharing - it's an outdoor sister thingI have shared this place with many people and my children, each one individually. It’s a good thing I ended up having so many kids because it is going to take them all to carry my old and broken body down to the creek when I can’t make it on my own anymore. And if I am blessed enough to choose my last words I have no doubt they will be “I love you all so much, now take me home to the woods”.As far back as I can remember remembering, I was aware that I was not the first person here and I know I won’t be the last. I have spent countless hours contemplating who felt the spirit of this place before me. How many others, through countless ages, have considered this their “special place”? I feel confident that they all happily share it with me knowing how much I love it.As Gretchen and I sat on a rocky bank listening to rushing water and feeling refreshed by the cool breeze, I looked down between my feet and found the most beautiful arrowhead. Some may consider this a coincidence, but I knew it was a sign. A sign that this place knows me and is happy I am back.
The woods with water..and so much more, never fail Jane
A close up look at the beautiful point that was nestled right at Jane's feetThanks Gretchen, it was wonderful “Walkin’ with the Wild Woman”.
Thank YOU Jane, for the collaboration, the cooperation, the compassion, and for sharing your sacred ground with me.