It's been two weeks since I picked up my needle. Normally this would freak me out and I would begin to sweat, get a little shaky, go a little cross-eyed (more so than usual), feel a bit faint. Fortunately, I had been doing something I also LOVE as much as stitching or crafting.
What is this wonderful thing? Let me tell you a story that began in 2009.
My brother and I woke up to a beautiful summer day here in Juneau, Alaska and discussed how wonderful it would be to take a hike somewhere out the road. We packed up a little bit of food, our cameras, and set off in search of ADVENTURE!!!
Most people driving along notice trickles of water coming down rocks, or maybe that rivulet of water coursing through the Fireweed and grass and sometimes a river or creek or brook or stream. How many times have you ever asked yourself "what is beyond the bushes and further up that creek?" I'd say most people don't even get that far because the sight is there and gone as they head towards their destination, so focused on getting there that the entire idea of pulling over to have a peek would probably make their heads explode.
It was on this beautiful summer day that my brother and I, almost simultaneously, had that thought and then spoke it allowed followed by pulling over, parking, getting out and stepping into the cool, darkness of the forest beyond.
That moment of surprise was an instant addiction, and the need to go further to see more or find an end of some kind became an obsession. You see, once you step into the wild, it is quieter.
You are surrounded by trees, Devil's Club, blueberry bushes, rotting logs, boulders, water, moss, ferns, skunk cabbage and flowers. Breathing in the smells.....never mind store bought aromatherapy.... THIS relaxes you so instantly you are momentarily in a stupor that pure nature created.
Whatever stress you felt before you stepped into the real world, and thought was seriously important five minutes before, no longer exists and has become alien and irrelevant.
The silent real world takes a few moments to adjust to. It's okay to just stand there and allow your body to relax from head to toe as stress is sucked away downstream. This is when you learn to allow yourself to be aware of your surroundings and not be afraid. Seriously, no fear.
We say we go creek climbing to take pictures, and that just happens to be a happy side effect, when in reality we go to remove ourselves from the human race. Your mind is blank for a time, but when it does start firing again, it is with a new perspective and fresh start.
Taking pictures slows you down as well. You move forward a ways, stop, take a really good look around, see something interesting (all of it is interesting but there is usually that ONE thing that gets you) and spend a good ten minutes trying to get a good shot. Then you move onward a little further.
It is not a race. On June 29th, my brother and I took our good friend Michael with us and found this suited him very well. All three of us took pictures going up and coming back, but very rarely did all three of us take pictures of something from a similar angle or at a similar spot. If an outsider had viewed the pictures, they would never have known that on one day in particular, at the same time, three people walked into the forest and into the same creek together. We each viewed that same place so differently!
It is true that not everyone is up for the climbing around, under, over, crawling, and getting very wet that these adventures require. It's okay if you prefer to stick to maintained trails and tourist attractions. This isn't for everyone. The pictures ARE for everyone.
I am not graceful, nor am I well balanced and have yet to find the "right" shoes for these outings, but with each one I learn more about myself and how to correct mistakes so my climb is safer and more enjoyable. I certainly am not a speed climber, that was 15 years ago and I have since gained 50 pounds. It is my belief that middle age should be called ONLY Midsection. In my world that seems to be what it's all about at this point. Fortunately, nature doesn't seem to care about my weight. Only my hair.
As I wander through thickets of bushes, or Devil's Club, nature reaches out and becomes entangled in my hair even when I wear a hat! Grasping branches of pine trees grab fist fulls of hair and pull. It's a wonder I still have any left at the end of the day. I do believe my favorite greeting is the Devil's Club Slap.
Those hideous little spikes leave slivers embedded in your skin and will provide hours of entertainment and fun reminders of your adventure for days after! (Apparently there are very few people who don't have some kind of allergic reaction to those fun little prickles) My first greeting this year was quite epic. Two slaps in the face, a pat on the head, two good, firm handshakes with both hands, and a pat on the ass. I dug those slivers out for three days and my face looked like I had a severe acne breakout.
Please don't be disgusted by the noble Devil's Club. To honor it, I have created a fun song to sing to it in the hopes the plant will hear and decide not to attack me on this day of adventure. The oil from the leaves actually soothes aching muscles, has been referred to as a type of ginseng, Tlingit "aspirin", and apparently (don't quote me on this) but it may be a potential deterrent to fun things like Tuberculosis microbes. Everything about this plant is edible except for those pretty red berries which should never be ingested by me or you or humans in general. It seems to make some kind of sense to not put those prickles in your mouth either. How about Devil's Club Rule #1: Don't eat pretty red berries or spiky things on Devil's Club? Yep, we have common sense going on right there. That only came on due to the wonderful time spent standing in the middle of a densely populated creek side trying to determine the least painful way to exit that situation.
So now you see why my needle has stayed safety stuck in my biscornu, threaded and ready for a few weeks now. I couldn't resist getting out there. I've been out three times and will be going again during the next two weeks....or rather few months!
Never fear, I am still thinking of my stitching and knitting and quilting, but while the weather is good, it's all about adventure real world! Give it a try yourself and see if it suits you. Even if it doesn't, you can still say you tried and feel better knowing this for sure.
Until next time.....