We took our second family camping trip with friends a few weeks ago and though we packed up a night early due to a sore throat that could not handle another night of cold, it was worth it, it is always worth it. Going to bed bundled up from the cold and waking up by the light of the sun, watching my daughter totally at peace with her surroundings, throwing rocks in the lake over and over and over again, trying to gently wash away her uneasiness with water with bits of time on a boat and a raft, painting rocks and legs, eating out of coolers and containers, just being outside full time.
This latest trip was a bit tougher for me for unexpected reasons, sore throat aside. Driving there to our friends family property I was excited to trade in pavement for gravel roads, but I caught myself with tears in my eyes throughout the weekend as a sort of mourning for what I have lost, a home I can no longer go back to but the only place the ever did truly feel like a home, our own family property where I spent weekends and summers and holiday vacations freely exploring with nowhere to be and nobody looking over my shoulder. Where I would travel the woods with my dog Patches by my side and find myself in the cow pastures of my great uncle who lives on the neighboring land. A place that is just a few gravel roads down from the tiny one room church and cemetery where three generations of my family is at rest, my own father, his mother, and her mother and father too. A place where I would collect fireflies and tomato worms in glass jars provided by my grandmother, would pick plums and berries and ride propane tanks like horses. A place that shaped a part of me that I cherish most. A place that was lost due to family circumstances that are far more complex than simply stating "My uncle lost it to the bank" but that really come down to that simple phrase. The aching in my heart for this land is constant and having to see what he put it through before it was lost, the destruction of the one place I loved with all my heart - it is devastating, heartbreaking, maddening. Knowing the blame, if one has to be placed, also goes to my own father in his own way for the choices he made which kept him from being there to stop it - the wondering at how different things could have been, but oh that thought, that thought runs so deep on so many levels as I am sure it does for anyone, but addiction also runs deep, it ran through the blood of my father and probably through the blood of my uncle as well just as it runs through my own, being put into check on a regular basis, being kept at bay but sometimes just barely. Always being careful and mindful and wishing the lightening up could come so easily as it did as a kid, as it did when I set myself sailing on a rusty grey bike down the hills of that very place and after that point considered myself a rider, self taught in an afternoon. Childhood memories and childhood hurt have the deepest roots and oh how those pains run deep and revisit us unexpectedly.
There was once a tree planted in the corner of our current yard, back between where the shed is now and where our garden fence runs. This tree was removed before I ever stepped foot on this land and you would never know it was there from the surface, yet when digging in the garden, when tilling the soil or making holes for plants I find that old trees roots, I find them sprawled across the garden, causing me trouble, making me slow down, and sometimes causing backbreaking work and moments of giving up due to their size and their desire to stay put. Pain seems to follow a similar pattern, the hurts coming to the surface at those most inconvenient times, those times that you just want to carry on, to move forward in life, to get that plant in the ground and move on already, yet the choice is really just that - to move on already or to get in there and get dirty and do the hard work to get that root out once and for all, to leave room for something else to grow in it's place. It is hard work and it is constant, but the fruit that comes from this work is so delicious, so refreshing in the work that went in to it's growth.