Periodically I head to the wilderness with my dog, just the two of us, to clear my head and allow deeper stirrings to emerge. Alone in Nature, with a capital N, I have been able to find sanctuary. I have tried churches and synagogues and community centers to no avail. It is with trees, rain, mountain streams, bears, dirt, and campfires that my soul finds its place in the world.
In the summer of 2020, I headed into the Adirondacks, along the North Fork of the Bouquet River, with my companion, Sita. She is a 110-pound German Shepherd, and a soul mate if ever there was one. The two of us carried our packs into the northeastern forest, to spend five days and four nights alone along the trail.
I had been suffering… So, off to the woods, I went, looking for solace from non-humans.
Our time together in the Adirondacks was tremendous. Even the one day that rained from dawn to dusk, confining the two of us to our tent mostly, was a spiritual reprieve from the ordeals I faced at home. It allowed me to settle inside, to find my Center, with a capital C to accompany the capital N mentioned above. It happened slowly and dependably.
When Sita and I emerged from the wilderness I walked slowly, feeling the Earth give beneath my step. I was connected to the planet, literally grounded. I had the dirt under my fingernails and in the tiny ridges of my fingerprints to prove it. Each breath was a prayer.
The car, big, shiny, and metal, was my bridge back to the world of humans. On the way down from the parking lot to the highway, I hit a rut and dislodged a panel under my door. Fitting. The woods took one more part of me that appeared to the outer world as perfect and gave it a good, hard knock, whacking it out of its perfect position. I didn’t mind. It felt right.
“I always see gardening as an escape, as peace really. If you are angry or troubled, nothing provides the same solace as nurturing the soil.” – Monty Don