The older I get, the more I realize how I crave nature. The allure of a shiny bright city still remains, of course, yet I cannot ignore the quiet way solid packed earth and trickling streams and gentle rolling hills twist their way around my soul and ground me. A mountain man (woman) I am not, and, although it has crossed my mind once or twice, I don't think you'll ever have to worry about me disappearing to live in the forest. Still, the great outdoors always beckons..."I know for a while againthe health of self-forgetfulness,looking out at the sky thougha notch in the valley-side,the black woods wintry onthe hills, small clouds at sunsetpassing across. And I knowthat this is one of the thresholdsbetween Earth and Heaven,from which even I may stepforth from myself and be free."
New Year's in my family is one of the most low-key holidays and I like it that way very much. It has become a tradition to escape to a cabin and live off the grid for a few days. It's a beautiful, grounding way to send off the old year and ring in the new. This year was especially special, reunited safe with four out of my five siblings after a heck of a year. Have I ever mentioned how thankful I am for my weird and wonderful family? Competitiveness and all. See, this year we all split up into teams and competed very (very) fiercely in a breakfast competition. Shrouded in a thick layer of secrecy, each team was assigned a morning. No one was hampered by the limited cabin-provided utensils and each breakfast seemed to be more elaborate than the last, I swear: freshly baked bread and homemade potato pancakes and parfaits and hand-embellished menus. It was impressive. In the end, my sister Mariam and I won the competition by a mere four points and we gloated more than we probably should have. Like I said, we're a little competitive.
Between eating and reading and sleeping, we filled our time with cave exploring and long hikes in the misty rain. If I squinted hard enough I could pretend I was in the Pacific Northwest instead of southeastern Oklahoma. Wendell Berry was right, this is one of the thresholds between Earth and Heaven.