Years ago someone gave me a card with that quote on it. I spent far too much time analyzing why that card, what was meant by it, and generally obsessing about whys and wherefores rather than just absorbing the power of of it and contemplating what made me dream. All these years later I've realized that while stars do bring out the dreamer in most of us, it's diving deep into the Catskill Mountains that most inspires the dreamer in me, sharpens her senses, fills her with a longing so strong she can see her heart's desires as clearly as you see these words. I'm sitting at my desk this afternoon, popping up and down to heed the call of laundry timers, listening to the southwest wind toss dry treetops, hearing the occasional scolding complaint from the chickens (I haven't offered up any treats lately), savoring the sweet spice of the first pumpkin bread since late Winter and sipping Tulsi Red Chai Masala tea. And dreaming.
Yesterday we took a drive into the western Catskills. We had a destination in mind, but no timeline other than getting back home in time to let the dogs out before biology overcame house-training. And so we hit the road, with grapes and goldfish, coffee and water for sustenance. Over hill and dale we drove west (and just a little north), discovering new places and jaw-dropping beauty. Fall has brushed her lips against these western peaks, leaving them blushing shyly. Near-drought conditions have sped up the process, and you can hear the tale of that in the dry leaves, but still asters are blooming, sumac stands proud and crimson as goldenrod fades.
And yeah...here's my admission: the fossils were cool. It turns the brain upside-down to lay your hands on cold stone that looks like a tree trunk and holds 380 million years of memory. I have very clumsily tied them to a life-long yearning as an excuse to share these pages of ancient Earth-diary with you. Sorry.
Getting back on track here....wandering the mountains yesterday roused the dream from stasis again. I could see us living a life driven by the land and seasons, not by clocks and calendar pages. I could see us connecting to mountain-rooted land every day, checking in, observing, listening, feeling what's happening with it each day. I dreamt of us living side-by-side, each doing what we're passionate about, sharing it with one another, separate yet jointly engaged in the life and stories of the land, the bees and other pollinators, growing and preserving our own harvest, genuinely homesteading in a way that would sink our own roots once and for all in the Catskill mountain red clay and rock, and thrive. I dreamt, as always,of writing about it all, of following Mary Oliver's directive from her poem Sometimes:
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
And when we drove through the Catskill Mountains that are so much a part of me now, when we climbed high on the mountain roads and swooped back down into valleys cupped in the mountains' hands, the dream roared awake, and I wanted to share it all. Last night the Harvest Moon listened to me say all this to her. She was silent awhile, then shone down on our cozy, unruly home, dry & bedraggled gardens and yard and asked me what I was waiting for and why.
Isn't this land? she asked. Isn't this the Catskill mountain red clay and rock? With gentleness she admonished me. If you aren't paying attention and being astonished here, if you aren't telling about this place, what would change somewhere else? Know this place, let your feet finally call it home and let your roots plunge deep. And then....
Tell about it.