Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a place in the aspens

There is no picture to begin this post because . . .

. . . there is no picture of the aspen place true enough.

But this is one of my sacred spaces. A grove of aspen up on West Mountain above the town my parents live now, where my grandparents used to live, where someday I likely will live when it's our turn to be the grandparents and keep the Old Place. Now I just return summer by summer as I did last week again - just Middlest and I to spend quiet time (as opposed to jolly, house-stuffed-to-the-gills-with-family time) with her grandparents.

On the last day of our visit we roared our way up the mountain on ATVs - nodding and waving to familiar townspeople on their way back down. Here, it is the last day before school starts. And the beginning of the bow hunt. ATVs are loud and smelly and require pretty constant attention to the road - and my Dad loves them.

And I love my Dad and like to be with him.

So - where we used to slide between the aspens, sitting back in the bed of Grandpa's pale blue pickup, looking up through the shivering leaves - now we enter in a rumbling train, one after the other.

It is still a sacred space.

After the lost backyard garden of my earliest memories - my tiny white sandals swinging up to touch the golden fruit on the apricot tree, thrilling tendrils of the pea plants, their miraculous pods of matching peas, the fast-falling creek just over the juniper hedge and those little prickly ice-blue berries - this place in the aspens is the place I love next best. These aspen and the rosy-red Narrows along Clear Creek the next canyon over - two sides of the same holy mountain.

Maybe next year I will hike up here on my own, early in the morning and try to get pictures to do it justice. Mornings, I've noticed, the slant of light sometimes sets free a little of the spirit of these places that mean so much to me . . .

. . . foxtails gathering sunlight along the old canal . . .



. . . intimacy of milkweed buds against the fence . . .



. . . rosy rust-red spires of the amaranth . . .



Though I have my doubts that pictures of my aspen place are really possible.

Believe me, I have filled rolls of film taking pictures of white trunks. And that's what I get - white trunks. Round silvery leaves against an achey-blue sky. Very pretty.

Not at all what this place is.

Maybe the point is that this is a place you have to enter. Not a place to see in photographs. You have to come in under its living canopy. Your own skin has to be bathed in the quality of light reflecting over and over from pale trunks. And your own face dappled with sunlight shivering down through the shimmering, ever-moving leaves. You have to enter the sound of its leaves and be embraced, encompassed and wholly contained, bathed and baptized.

Whatever it is, I must tell you that as we turned around, passing once more through the aspen place, and coming back down the mountain I realized with a start of joy that I was suddenly happy again. The happy switch has come back on, I saw the words unscrolling in my mind against the blue sky, as I joggled back down the rocky road with the heavy weight of the helmet on my head.

Not that I've been drippingly miserable these past two/three months. I've carried on well enough. But as a particularly perceptive friend responded when I assured her I was, Oh, fine. Just fine - she nodded, "I don't believe you."

Whether this new fountaining up of peace and "rightness" is because my vitamin D levels are approaching normal, or the natural result of a week at my mother's side (like doe and fawn), or because I'm finally coming home after a summer travelling (and as much as I've loved visiting my parents and my sister and all, I am glad at last to come back to my own home and my own work). Or whether the flipping of the switch is just the blessing of this place in the aspens - I don't know.

I only know the light is on again . . .

. . . and I Thank You.

6 comments:

Jenny said...

Yes, it is me! Funny how you find people through blogs! My husband said he saw you at mom's. We played the name game, and I finally decided it was you he was describing! I read a few entries of your blog and love to hear about your side of the experiences of the same things I see! If you want, I'll invite you to my blog, I just need your e-mail. Good to find you! Hear from you soon?

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Ahhhhh, so glad you have a happy place like that of Brer Rabbit's. Beautiful photography. So glad the switch is on.

Mrs. Organic said...

Your aspen place sounds ethereal.

There is a place like this I used to know. It is an outcropping of rock that hangs over a rushing river. You can't see it from the path, and when you are laying on it the warmth of the boulder seeps into your bones and your ears fill up with the song of the river. It is where I go to feel God's embrace.

I think I'm past due for a visit.

Emma J said...

Mrs. O - your description of your place gives my shivers. Yeah, you better get yourself there.

Emma J said...

Sorry - "gives ME shivers"

Melissa said...

I already liked the aspens, but I think I will value them even more after reading this post. And I have noticed in other settings that photographs aren't always capable of capturing the beauty of some places, but also sometimes show more beauty than I had realized in other circumstances. Wouldn't it be something to have a camera that took an image of how we experience a vista, the shady, cool feel of leaves dappling our arms, the crisp scent of higher mountain vegetation, the sound of birds and sunshine? That would be worth buying a new camera!

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