Day Six

rattlesnake plantain helps us find home

rattlesnake plantain helps us find home

We’ve followed our questions, our delights and our fears, our longings and our best guesses to this small octagonal canvas home in this infinite and knowable young and old forest.

We’ve been here five nights now. A surprise: each night is as alive and varied, as rich with texture and experience as the days. We lay down to sleep herded ever inward to bed and to stillness by the cavernous forest dark, the same dark inside our home as out, just in time for something to begin. Rain sounds on the thin stretched roof above us, around us, on us like we’re sleeping in a wandering cloud. The pine trees around us bend and crack and we stay awake all night expecting to be flattened. Desperate sounding fox barks trace an invisible parade just outside then suddenly stop. Distant cows moo with weary midnight frustration. Neighborhood dogs engage in a scheduled debate, repeating themselves mindlessly until dawn. Some small animal makes a sound that may mark its end. Two coyotes sing like twenty, a song I cannot follow but recognize is perfect. In the triangles of moonlight our bunnies are destroying something irreplaceable I’ve long forgotten I owned. And then – there was the night with no sound where we couldn’t sleep for lack of wondering where it all went.

Many nights I step out to pee and the stars and the moon devour me.

Today it is so cold and the firewood we bought doesn’t fit in our tiny house wood stove. I got something small going with pallet wood to cheer up and get the energy to begin my work. Today I’m going without time, transportation, phone, or electricity. It’s not just the cold that makes me hesitate to pick up my tools and step outside. The vastness of the work and the intimacy, the distance between this moment and a corn sprout, and the unique confusion of suddenly being given exactly the work you want; all this almost keeps me huddled under blankets back in the elsewhere where I was only dreaming of today .

Yesterday we met with so many warm-hearted people sharing like oxygen the simple understanding that we need to find a way to live together with earth and each other. We shared our story again and again and at times I felt embarrassed to know a life this good; other times I felt embarrassed to ask to fill up our 6 gallon water jugs that we use for washing dishes. All these people committed to justice reminded me again of all the ways I don’t know how to support the struggles of everyone in our communities suffering the consequences right now. We’re making our best guess in the forest, alone in some ways, hidden in some ways. Sometimes I feel far too far from Standing Rock, even as I know our life is precisely a response to their call.

What helps so much: having each other; seeing our friends; connecting our best guess to others’ different, also right best guesses; having fire, watching fire, thanking fire; the moonlight and stars; and the animals and plants around us always.

Two nights ago just as I was experimentally letting our cat out into the woods, I had to quickly lift her back into the yome as the largest fox I ever saw trotted into the pines near our home. Dog-sized, grey but for its orange face, heedless of us thirty feet away. It walked a path as sure as the sunset. Another fox appeared behind minutes later. We watched them wander off into the brush out of sight.

Before that: a neon green tree frog on the ground. Coyote tracks in the creek bed. The first insects. A full moon like a spotlight on our deck. Spring is beginning and in many ways it is the first Spring of my life.

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