twisting into a tumble cardinal in thorn in angry ravine why so silent? you are not invisible. maybe you wish to be: the dark forest, holding you, up lifting you towards the barren sky. don't you have a home? where do you lay your head? maybe you fly, on and on. past the stream to the blanket of moss that grounds you. in search for seeds, in search for roots, will you ever settle? maybe you are done calling, with no one to listen on this quiet evening in the shortest month. the longest distance, from whom you love. but i will listen now. maybe this staring contest, is but looking in the mirror? into the mass of limbs, do you smell the rain? sir it is all but here. maybe you are mourning. the carnage of day light, and your wings soaring, but only temporarily. and your eyes flitter. and I wonder if you are weeping. are you keeping track of my tears? do you hear me? you call my name. and you fly away.
A chill shudders through my aching spine sore from the sloppy deadlifts and rainy weekend as I walk down the path to my neighbors home. The field of grass dances in harmony with the barking dogs and their new friend; my sister and the puppies’ eyes wide with delight. “Thud, thud, thud” my worn birkenstock clogs hit the gravel with forgiveness, the small descent more enticing than the smaller uphill to follow. The setting sun to the left of me, the scene is rather picturesque— quite the reprieve from the rumbling clouds the night before now headed east with little haste. The damp coldness mocks the summer’s humidity, but here, the creatures know that the break of spring will sink it’s beautiful claws into the pall by the end of the week.The bristle of leaves lie together, united like on sacred ground they are unwilling to give up. Maybe most able to have a free spirit, these dead lie stubborn and stagnant in their need to move on. I smile at a squirrel as I hang a right to the once dusty trail now rejuvenated by the storm. The downed limbs seem to almost rejoice, happy to be unburdened by what they could no longer carry. I keep walking and a bare wooly caterpillar inches silently by my foot. A ladybug lands on a leaf nearby. This happenstance of greater meaning mocks the omens we humans have created and I chuckle at the joke these crawlers seem to play on me. A few strides away, water dapples in slow motion as a tufted titmouse lands on the hollow branch steeped in old mud and fungi. She skips, taking little hops around the jagged rocks of the shallow creek bed like she’s tiptoeing. Like she’s intruding on this little patch of planet that perhaps belongs to her more than any other planet. A twig snaps and she flies off, past the dead oak and curved limbs, the intricacy of the wooded barriers mimics her call. They are her home.When she lands she shuffles back and forth. Waiting and wondering for what is to come next. The expectancy is rather understood on this humble ground. Not over-bearing nor flaunting this small forest is not quick to brag but rather impressive to the small city girls eye view. Perhaps for the whistling bird it is the same. The slim trees and dry patches and mucky piles of leaves hold promise in what they aren’t: flashy, boastful, enthralling. Solace is rather found in its mundane breeze, a simplicity giving life to a pink and purple hazed dusk. The sounds of whispering feathers and random 5:11 pm church bells in the distance mute the loudness of the larger scope. Maybe even give the music of the surrounding rhythms fresh ears to be ready to listen.And for the little bird and the little girl, this is needed. A place to rejoice. A place to recenter. Perhaps the faint path is the one most important to tread. Perhaps it is what they both were waiting for.
I stand still in the hot sun that’s hitting my face; it’s warmth tinting my pale cheeks faint pink like the azalea petals lying crushed on the moss: a painter’s wet palette. The sun hits the remaining ice on the tips of the tree branches and slowly melts away all the pain and beauty of winter. The blossoms at my feet make me wonder what spring will break and I sigh with a contentedness that steals my fluttering mind. A butterfly glides past me. My entire life with the exception of two short years in Pilot Mountain before I could run and explore with my own direction have been spent in the city of Greensboro. My sense of place there was defined by my best friend on the other side of Holden road and fulfilling my book character childhood by living on Dogwood Drive with a yellow door. The simplicity was a facade though and the simmer of the pandemic was spent not trapped in my room like most but rather without one to call my own. My family needed more space and internalizing that as away from me, I moved in with my best friend spending weeks at the ocean and hammocking by the lake. Our summer days spent roaming around the neighborhood, tan legs swinging from the stonewall starting out at the swans. In a sense, not having a place was the most accepted I’ve ever felt. But the bliss would fade with the daylight hours and evolve into the consistency I didn’t know how much I craved.
Early August my family moved into our new little house on Oak Ridge Rd with my hesitance to embody our new communities’ rural roots and my desire to spread my branches to inhabit the spaces of my friends and new family I had found in the eno at Hamilton Lake. Today, as I reflect on the die-hardness of my anti-Trump, pro-education embodiment that I thought contradicted my new home, I now realize that open space is necessary to achieve an open mind. And while my family is still quick to spread our (how to say “hatred” nicely?) opinions on the former president, we now laugh at the fact our Biden sign got stolen. Twice. We now laugh at how close we were at convincing my mom we needed chickens. I look now into our grass speckled with dandelions and picture the little chicks cooing happily around the well. I picture my hound dog Beatrice chasing them. Okay fine maybe we don’t need them. But all of this to say I can now see my life shifting like the seasons I moved through within the big move. The change I loved to ignore has now become a change necessary to the fruitfulness of my spirit. A droplet of water falls on my head and I giggle, remembering my sister jumping in puddles the previous day in her hot pink Doc Martens.Her quick reply “Well what do you think rain is for?” I look into the cloudless sky and whisper a “thank you” to whoever is listening. My solitude now eases my mind and I pick up a lady bug crawling over my toe. A squirrel darting swiftly up the pine tree a few yards away interrupts my cliche moment of good luck and perhaps clarity, with a much appreciated reality check. But this new landscape I wake up to is my new reality. It is everything I never knew I needed.
The Forsythia Bush brings a burst of color to the greens and browns of the gravel tracing foliage. The arrival of spring has brought restored excitement to our family like the idea of the move created this time last spring. Now, the sun falls later and the chill crisp of winter is no longer frigid with dry wind. What we have been waiting for has arrived. With the expectancy I have carried slowly fading like the shivering “love you, see you soon”s shared on the stoop of my front porch, I now gaze at the stars and take all the time I like to say goodbye.I can laugh at the moon instead of running back into the light of the fire inside my house and the moon seems to laugh back. It humors me as if knowing how ironic it is that all is well–as if it is a secret. But the much needed arrival if warmer weather changes nonetheless and the purity of my first spring at my new home brings the glory of change in different ways of past seasons. While here there are no cherry blossoms tinting the driveway with a sticky brown residue, the pungent scent of Bradford pear blossoms cascade off my car as I drive East towards my life but away from my new home. The distance between the beautiful place I am getting to know introduces a strange duplicity to my life. I am beginning to recognize that boxes do not have to be sealed with clear packing tape and labeled “new house” or “funny friend” or “artsy girl.” The duality of my life in Oak Ridge and in Greensboro opens my eyes to the place in my heart I hold for both. And while I may not hear the same shitty mustang backfire down Friendly that Evan does, and text her at the ridiculosity of it all, she too is in a new home and so therefore the newness of it all can be shared. It can be refreshing. As I sit with my coffee on my back porch, I watch as a storm embraces my home. While it seems rather cliche, and almost boring to write about my sense of place not about the nights I spent in Denali National forest or hiking the Appalachian Trail but in my backyard, I have learned so much here about belonging and awareness. I know the feeling of the grass underneath my feet and how the cat climbs the dogwood tree and my dark barks in delight at the fireflies that swarm our little white cottage. The rain dotting our unkept lawn with fresh food for the henbit, a blue jay chases a robin up through a spruce tree. The purple my eye captures speaks to me. Above all the movement and madness, Alice Walker tells me that the purple I see in nature is God. And there is plenty of God in my new place. The stillness this wisdom brings grants me more clarity as to why I may inhabit this place and all of the life it brings. I trudge into the wet mud and pick up a fallen rhododendron blossom. As I walk back to my porch I smile a little, because the discomfort I feel now–my new discomfort: wet hair, muddy feet, and cherry laurel flakes on my sweatshirt–is a choice. For a lot of reasons this place is incredibly freeing to the close mindedness I possessed and was trying to deny. I inhale the humid scent of rain and exhale the day’s worries. I have no need to fear because now, I belong. My sister calls me to plant some begonias. Yes, this where I need to be.