|All I want is here and now but it's already been and gone...|
January 6, 2012
For our New Year's Eve Bonfire, the children *heehee* made a special trip into town (Yes, dearheart, there are still dry counties) and hit several grocery stores along the way. My husband had built up the bonfire carefully and for this New Year's, he had begun gathering driftwood and wood from the, well, woods way way back in September but during November he actually went kind of obsessive about having "THE BEST NEW YEAR'S EVE BONFIRE EVER!". Special care was made to ensure that the wood was properly dry and kept that way. I gathered tons of pine cones and kindling and followed his careful instructions. (He used to snow-camp in Alberta, Canada and the mountains of New Mexico so he knows about firewood.) However, I didn't buy any marshmallows for I wanted them to be very fresh and sure enough, BabyBoy I's wife is just as fussy as I am...she brought back from town both regular ol' Campfire brand (the huge ones) and Vegan All Natural Hand-Crafted Ones, along with fancy and plain graham crackers and chocolate. My husband added his stash of chocolate he gets from his brother on Denman Island, even though he won't really eat S'Mores. At all. Usually.
The "guys" had scouted all over two counties gathering up fireworks and as I watched them prepare the driveway and back lawn, I joked we must be declaring war on Indiana! The boys joked back that no, we don't want Indiana, we're attacking Cincinnati...which is about seventy miles away but has cool night clubs and the big Steamboat Race. And of course, Cincinnati is still a Larry Flynt stronghold and it was way past time to liberate Cinci! (The girls had no idea that Larry Flynt had his huge Mason, Ohio flagship store there! In the wholesome, conservative Midwest? For sure!)
Anyway, around the bonfire, the children somehow let it slip...that the reason why I was taken to the premiere of Breaking Dawn was because they had bought the tickets and then arranged for their father to make sure that night was free. (And this was way before I got sick.) Since the amount of teasing I've received since the day Himself took me to see Twilight was of record-breaking intensity, (until M. ended up in ICU a few days later), truly I was astonished. Astounded.
I've never talked about my love for the woods or how our trip to Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia years ago, well, were watershed moments in their father and mine's life. Or all my little adventures in the woods since we moved up here.
And I've certainly never talked to them about that first long walk in the woods where that deserted farm is. How I found the deer-run, followed it through thick undergrowth and almost a solid wall of cedars and trees, through the huge blackberry patch (ow. OW. Ouch. Ow.), through shallow creeks and over slippery rocks, up one ridge and down the other, under the massive power lines, along a narrow ledge of limestone, through even more tangled growth, to a deep, thick woods where three small brooks met at the bottom of a narrow ravine...looking up and seeing that deer just watching me...her eyes huge and velvety and then hearing the sound of running deer...turning and gasping for a whole bunch of them were leaping over me...over the little spring-fed brook...I just froze...even though some of the smaller deer were barely clearing the top of my head...and then a small fawn, jumped over the brook, and I had to duck or its sharp little hooves would have cracked my cheekbone. Or head. Or something.
When I ducked, I slipped on generations of fallen leaves and SMACK. Right down on my backside I went and looking up, I watched the rest of the deer and the little ones arch over me and the creek to come gracefully (most of the time) down on the other side. That deer was just standing there, a large doe...off a bit to the side, watching. She made me think of all the tales of Great-Grandaddy about "Master" animals and how a Master Stag often had a female that was part of it all.
After fourteen years of living in a heavy industrial desert city, trapped in an urban existence, to go for my first long walk alone in the deep green woods, amongst rambling brooks and branches and springs...then to find that old deer run...THEN, practically be ran over by a large traveling herd of deer! That fawn that leapt over me was almost too much. I sat there in that damp dirt and leaves, noticing the sun was almost gone behind the top of the ridge's crest...scent of musk and ferns and fur and leaves and creek water drowning me almost! I started to laugh, for some of the deer had turned to stare at me. Totally unafraid, safely on the other side, so many I couldn't begin to count them all. Since it was late summer, almost fall, there were several fawns of various sizes and shapes and a few obvious very young bucks at the fringes.
At that time, NO one knew where I was. My husband was literally thousands of miles away...we had only moved in barely a few months before and I had been warned about wandering off too far alone. Ever since my very first walk, barely three days after we moved in...where I had discovered a fawn hidden in a fern break (and backed away very slowly into the dense underbrush) and then watched, as its mother finally came out from under the dusky cedars to fetch her baby, I had become obsessed with wandering those fields and hills and creek bottoms. Even after close personal encounters with coyotes. And something, that to this day I am certain was not a coyote. At all. I still believe that there are some sort of wolves running around out there, especially near the county border. (There are bears, why not wolves? Some have been seen up around Cinci, and if they are on the Ohio side, why not this side?)
Anyway, as we all stood around the bonfire, toasting and incinerating marshmallows and laughing and telling tale tales, the boys asked me, did I remember that time in the mountains outside Cloudcroft, New Mexico, we were surprised by a HUGE Mexican Grey Wolf? Of course, I did. I don't think the boys ever got over it. Or neither did I. For the park ranger had cautioned us that the wolves were being re-introduced and since most of them had come from a place in Canada that used lots of young women to take care and care for them, some of the wolves were a bit, well, friendly, so all females should be a bit careful.
The boys started talking about how, that time, it was late October, still a bit fall-like, but a light dusting of snow and how we, the boys and I had gone off to just basically walk and run and then gather kindling. So, when that wolf stepped in front of me...the boys went totally silent, they were a few feet behind me. That wolf was gorgeous. He was more black than grey and a fierce intelligence burned in his eyes and I stayed very still. I should have been scared, I should have been terrified, I mean my young sons were right behind me...my husband about a mile back. But I wasn't. I whispered to the boys to just stand still and don't move. And they did.
The wolf took a few steps towards me...I was so totally enthralled I just stood there. Everyone knows looking any "predators" in the eyes is considered aggressive. Really? I couldn't not look into this wolf's eyes. The powerful beauty he had, the sheer impact of this tiny encounter with the, uhmm, what? Wild world? The natural world? The old world? I mean, I'm a farmer's granddaughter, from generations of farmers...farmers that lived along side wild animals generations ago. Not so much anymore. Yet, still, there is a powerful mystery and beauty about that world.
Around that bonfire, the boys began teasing me again, about how someone could be so shy at times, and fearful of heights and not really a true hard core outdoors-camping type (no, I'd rather LIVE in in the country, not just CAMP.) was so fearless of that wolf. (I'm not very comfortable with most dogs now, people seem to have no idea how to train or control their dogs anymore and it bothers me to watch dogs be so out of control. Seriously bothers me.)
Baby Boy I's wife is Boston-born-and-bred and never even saw a COW until she was in middle school. A big 'burb completely surrounded by more Boston 'burbs is the extent of her life in the "country". She has told me time and again, when she met Baby Boy I and watched him fix her car and then, build a fire at the retreat they both were visiting...and bait a fishing line AND catch, clean and cook that fish later, she was stunned. So to think of a girl that is NOT afraid of cows and dogs and horses and walks ALONE in the woods...taking along lipgloss to boot?!
So, the boys and Himself became all sentimental about our family and JustTheGuys camping and hiking and picnic and Christmas Tree Trips...for you could sign up for a tree in the Lincoln National Forest and every year we would go up there and "hunt" for the perfect tree.
The Moon rode above us, our bonfire throwing sparks in a spiral up the skies, the scents of toasting marshmallows wafting up along with them as I just basically watched and listened. For I can't help it...unbidden, the January of three years ago haunts me.
I try hard to keep it to myself...but I think of them all around that huge bonfire, we kept it going from dusk to well past midnight...shivering at times that had nothing to do with the cold. Chasing away unwanted thoughts that cling to my heart... Where would we all be now, if things hadn't worked out? If they hadn't been able to revive him? Or the embolism killed him before any of the rest happened? His doctors still call him the Magic Man...one other doctor crassly told me recently that very very few people survive the sort of pulmonary embolism he had...nevermind the massive embolism shower that followed that! If we had lived way out in the country that night when he bled to death on the floor. If the paramedics had stopped after the seventh time, to revive him? If he had died in ICU? Three months later, when he nearly bled out again? "
His check-up is later this month. January 19th is the night he got his ambulance ride (which he cannot recall at all) and tomorrow, the anniversary of his taking me all the way into town to see Twilight. Snow falling everywhere...I barely could let him go to work this morning.
And truthfully, standing on the driveway, hugging everyone good-bye and waving and giving thanks for sunglasses to hide the tears and once again, just wanting everyone to stay RIGHT HERE...close by...shoot, in the same state, area code, town, county HOUSE...
It is one of the eternal paradoxes of our family life since we made the decision to "allow" the boys to move far away and begin their lives...