South Creek Trail
I’ve been mulling over “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver since the first time in March. The poem seems to be slowly developing its color and understanding as I allow myself to really feel into how its message applies to my life. The line, “harsh and exciting” has caught my attention specifically when paired with imagination, as it does in the poem. The risk of doing the things you love, the things we are unconsciously called for, the both terrifying but a necessity, I suppose, much like the nature of an animal’s instinct, like migration. This poem has been brought into my life to assess the parts of my life that have been allowed to just grow. “What do I love,” I ask myself often.
Today, after a very warming time spent with family, which recalled the foundational lifestyle I want in my life right now, I settled the rest of the afternoon quietly by the trail to reflect. I’ve wrote so many things about the South Creek Trail. Long before I even moved to Buffalo I’ve described it as a place I come back to time and time again for healing, yes, but more specifically as a reminder to let life continue to circulate as the water does.
I’ve relied on the South Creek Trail on for deep contemplation and often I invite the people of my memories with me–this is to say bring the past to the present (see, “Moms, (A Walk in The Park). Today, I was contemplating home again, the associations that come with family, really. As soon as I stepped on the trail I sensed a gentle presence, though by the way the wind would violently rock the growing fruits back and forth on the tree, I knew that there was someone there with an urgent message.
I write this as to say I think my grandmother had advice (my grandmother, whom I never knew growing up do to her passing early on in my life) on what it meant for me, someone who spends much of their time thinking, drifting off into possibilities, endlessly, to assume the responsibility of choice, of acting on the very thing that life instinctively, maybe, unconsciously, possibly, calls for.
The back story is that I’ve been struggling with choice, home, and purpose as I’ve felt I’ve been sitting at a crossroads in my life. Coinciding to that is how my mother was once asked by a person hiking the South Creek Trail if the trail offered anything “interesting.” My mother, who has walked this trail all her life, was without words to this person’s quest. In fact, she was upset as to how this person couldn’t appreciate the beauty, mystery, and wisdom the trail already offered inherently. That, I believe, is the metaphor I’m playing with in this piece when it comes to choice, home, and purpose.
The poem, finally:
There’s something my grandmother would have wanted to say
that my mother just can’t brave to get across; at least, not to me. Not to a child who seems to think he can only flourish in the wide spaces that daydreams may offer. Not to someone who is so tempered by the idealism of what home should be that any suggestion breaks the spring load.
And besides, Mother, knowing the imagination is the last of my places I call home, I believe, chose to wait. But grandmother, however, no longer with us but still here, still living somewhere in the forest or maybe on the tips of the wind by the South Creek trail, a humble yet healing place, would speak.
She would speak of that gentle feeling
of home and point to where I walked in the woods,
She would speak of nature
becoming infinitely captivating yet familiar;
inviting yet harsh.
“The risk,” she would say,
“of calling somewhere home.”
How home doesn’t require the brilliant views
that overlook the parts of ourselves,
the fantastical waterfalls, gorges, or the higher mountains.
Home doesn’t need to only call to our attention
the things that move — in or around us.
That home is where that imagination
after the stirring, the breeze, this one,