Yesterday I took a slow, needed walk in the woods. It was slow because my eight-year-old walked behind me drinking his apple cider the whole way. (That was the only way I was able to get him to walk in the woods with me.)

It was much needed, because I have been dealing with all sorts of change/decision/anxiety-related fatigue this last week.

Problems no less weighty than:

How do I form a bubble cohort for my kids during the dark, wet, cold days of fall/winter that stretch on forever in Juneau, Alaska?

How do I keep my kids from experiencing the same kind of isolation trauma that was inflicted on me in elementary school and informed my entire life, that molded me to the adult I am who still deals with such demons?

How do I educate and care for my kids while working? How do I teach Spanish to middle schoolers over a strictly online platform?

How do I find a bubble that is small enough I don’t get sick (I’m high risk) and don’t expose my children to long-term health heart and lung damage?

You know, small, petty stuff.

While John Muir-ing through the stormy, windy trees under the slight pitter-patter of raindrops, I started sensing the bears lurking under the broad fans of devils club leaves. Without a dog, and just me and my eight-year-old (forgot bear spray—bad mom), we wouldn’t stand much chance against a black bear. Due to the wind storm, we were the only souls on this trail. And my poor little son with his stick—not much of weapon. I started oodey-ooping loudly into the forest.

I was also watching the trees closely, swaying strongly in the gale force winds, just in case one decided to come down on us.

In any new world—whether in nature or another culture—the only choice is to adapt. As the tree bends in the wind so it will not break, so must I. So I try to adapt by sensing with all senses— most importantly, my sixth sense, intuition.

With my senses on heightened alert in that forest, the most remarkable thing happened. I started getting tingles up and down my spine. The constant heightened state of awareness felt akin to that feeling of being high on drugs. It felt as if I was using more brain power. My body was washed in a feeling of wisdom and truth that hued green and the red like the inside of spruce trees.

But in the calm of the green woods and exhale of the warm wind, I did not feel fear. Instead, I felt a tingling under the skin that bloomed into my arms and legs and vibrated at the end of my fingertips, fluttering into my heart and lungs, and culminated into my head almost to the point where I could spill tears and cry out Oh my goddess, I feel alive!

How I wish that we as a culture we could vibrate at this level at this energy. To slow down, look, listen, breathe, and feel. To feel time more palpably than ever before. It’s like adding years to your life. But, of course, this totally goes against our goal-, action-oriented culture, geared towards rapidity and efficiency.

The best way to experience the wilderness is to have no clock, except for daylight. No destination, no goal of miles or calories burned. The only goal being to take in the green, wet, wild world around you.

The same could be said for travel. No goal, no check list. Feel the world with all your senses. Slow, stop, look, listen.

Feel the vibrations.

His hair is the same color as the bark of spruce

Because she is of the wilderness, why shouldn’t the rhythm of a thousand hustling feet induce her to run through TSA?

Because when riding an escalator, why shouldn’t she wait for the prettiest step, although it may mean losing Mommy who has alteady gone ahead and landing spread eagle upside down between five metal moving steps?

Because she prefers to pee on dandelions with the sun on her bottom, why shouldn’t she run out of the airplane lavatory with her underwear down around her ankles?

Because she is a magical fairy princess, why shouldn’t she pitch a next-level prima donna hissy fit when she doesn’t get a window seat?

Because she has a voice that bellows off mountains and belies her five years, and a mother who listens and encourages her to speak her truth in a world of men who won’t stop talking, why shouldn’t she use her voice to stand up for her tiny little self— because if she won’t, who will?— even if it means everyone on the plane goes semi-deaf?

Because she appreciates the ways of Miro, why shouldn’t she paint the floor an acrylic abstract masterpiece minutes after getting home from a two day flight?

Because my daughter is a mirror, why shouldn’t I expect her to run a bit feral like her mother?

And because God gave me over the top kids, and maybe I parent a little over the top, too— and because to whom much is given, much is required— why shouldn’t I expect that everything be too wonderful, too stressful, too much work, too satisfying, too unsatisfying, too draining, too hilarious, and too much?

Wildfires wrapped me in their hazy cocoon yesterday.
Muffled all sounds and thoughts like a cold,
Like the eerie quiet of underwater. Orange sun transformed my living room into a glass of Tang. 

A parliament of eagles vied for salmon guts on the beach, chasing off the ravens over daisies and seaweed. Quarreling ravens forced out a few of their own in a screaming cacophony. Five scouts set off in precise fighter jet formation. Peace granted again.

My daughter returned from the beach smelling like wild mint. “I saw a moving rock!” she said. “A moving rock – what is she talking about?” The beach remained frozen in time.

Suddenly a rock became a porcupine and hobbled along the water’s edge.
Dinner fit for a mermaid of garlic shrimp and beach asparagus transported me back to Costa Rica, if just for a moment.

Out in front, a mama orca taught her two babies to hunt while Daddy long-fin kept watch in the distance. 

At 9:45 P.M., the wildfire sun glowed hot pink above the horizon, marking June’s finale in a brilliant exclamation point.

Photo: Kerry Howard