The Hike – a poem

The Hike
by Genie Zeiger

November is the hardest month,
and it’s Sunday, the hardest day when
one lives alone, but I am with you.
We enter the wall of woods quietly, the way
we might have entered the room of our
sleeping baby, if we’d had one.
You turn toward me, one finger
pressed over closed lips. Silence is
impossible as dry leaves crackle
beneath our boots, but I synchronize
my steps with yours to keep
the racket down. We reach a ledge
and sit on stones and watch the sun
lower its bright body over the pond.
The beaver, big toothed and
oddly white, climbs onto a tree
limb and begins to chew.
I wish I knew how to love you.
I wish I knew how to do it better.
We pass the binoculars between us
slowly, so the animal won’t scare,
but it does, and I am cold.
Let’s go, I whisper.
You nod, and I follow you up
the thick hillside, dodging branches,
keeping my eye on that
baggy green knapsack of yours.
I am following, and wanting,
as we come into a clearing,
and there, mirrored in a new
pond, is the early moon,
so full and round
I want to eat it, to share it with you.

GENIE ZEIGER recently began singing international music in a chorus. Her book What Happened Was . . . : Writing Memoir and Personal Essay is forthcoming in 2009 from White Pine Press. She lives in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
published in The Sun

Sometimes a great notion

Winter sunrise in Maine

hits me and I want to tell everybody about it. This time it is not my idea, but most of the great ideas I entertain are not generated here at 290 High St. I am grateful for a gift subscription to The Sun that was sent me by my friend Petro. The very first issue ( Jan. 2008) came and it was as if Petro dialed in a bull’s eye for me.
I don’t want to get into the issue of whether suffering is genuine, but I would strongly suggest reading the following article from a recent issue of The Sun magazine: Through A Glass Darkly ( hit the title for direct link) . It is still online, for how long, IDK.
It starts like this, and just doesn’t let up: “Why do you think it is important for us to pay attention to the dark emotions, in particular?”   and then it goes from there. The article hammers home my belief that at the very minimum, distracting ourselves from, and at the worst burying,  our sadness and grief  not only cheapens our chances for a true, rich life, but may lead us toward true danger.

I was the kind of guy that didn’t really believe it could get that bad with depression until this Fall, when I returned from my 6 month AT trip and found myself  falling, falling, deeper, and deeper into depression and grief. The article is like gold to me, plus it is readable!   I do believe that when we don’t have ways to befriend and work with sadness, fear, and despair, things can turn violent or we pay the price in other ways.

Reading the article really moved me forward in my understanding about why sadness comes, and how it is a part of life, and how we grow from it. If anyone takes the time to read it, I’d appreciate your comments .

Looking to hit just one clean note.

Clouds at Disneyworld

At least I am camping for a few days.
I’m here in Florida at Disneyworld sleeping in a tent at the edge of a creek. I scored a round trip flight from Portland, ME . Cheap for $164.26.  I am a staying at a campsite with my oldest friend in the whole world, Edward, and his wife Jane . Edward and I grew up next door to each other. We have been hanging out since we were babies.
I try to walk 3- 4 hours a day down here, but so far, I have not been able to find an actual natural surfaced trail anywhere. What trails they used to have here are now concrete walkways, easier to keep clean. So what we have here are walkways that used to be covered with pine needles, gravel, and sand that are now concrete surfaced. To frame this even more strangely, recently there was a big renovation in the Fort Wilderness campground where they took out all the tile floors in the wash houses and the replaced them with actual field stone floors to make the facilities more rustic. Whaaa?

I think a lot about being back on the AT while relaxing here.

As of 10:49 am, some 4 days after I arrived, I have only spent $5.15 cents since I left home. Coffee is a 1 minute walk away at the Meadows Trading Post, and Edward has a raft of insulated Disney mugs that allow for unlimited free coffee or tea, and we have not bought any meals out. Jane has a  kitchen set up in a screen house where she cooks natural meals and makes huge salads for both lunch and supper. We did drive out to Sam’s Club for groceries, but Edward wouldn’t allow me to pay anything for my share, nor do they allow me to pay for any of their daily camping fees. They have been down here since November.
n   I was also the recipient of a couple of free day passes that allowed me into Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studio, thanks to Eddie’s friend Wayne, who is a Disney employee.
So, no trail here, but it is fun to be camping in warm, shirtsleeves weather again.  I saw that it got down to 26 degrees below zero in Allagash, ME  last night, a place very close to where I will be winter camping in February.

Edward has a spare REI dome tent he set up for me with some blankets and a pillow. I didn’t bring much of my gear except my Petzl head lamp and my Big Agnes Air Core mattress. When I went to take a shower the first day, I realized that I forgot my towel. Rather than borrow one from Edward, I decided to pull some extra paper towels off the roll in the wash house and that has been it.

Since the Trail, I am much better at just sitting around enjoying looking at trees, cloud patterns in the sky, and water, which is much of what we do. Being a farmer who is away from the fields, Eddie is a master at it, and he likes to talk. A lot. He is famous for it. He is also an amateur expert at making martinis, and has some real martini cocktail glassess. I have been enjoying chocolate martinis as well as my favorite, the Dirty martini.

Edward has two mandolins and a guitar here, and we make time to play a few hours a day.

Today, Edward said that if we actually had to pay for legs instead of getting them as part of being a human,  people would have a whole different perpective on what a life this is that we have been gifted. I love these fresh glimpses of life, these off beat thoughts that bring laughter and richness to our day.

My friend Petro Wigleymon has Christmas-gifted Marcia and I  a subscription to The Sun , and here is blurb about it:

“The Sun has been selected to receive the 2007 Utne Independent Press Award for Best Writing. For nearly twenty years Utne magazine has honored the best of the independent media: publications that offer perspectives not found in mass-market magazines and newspapers. This is the fifth Independent Press Award The Sun has received.   In its announcement, Utne describes The Sun as “an intimate forum where some of the finest contemporary writers share their most polished, provocative prose, and then everyone else is invited to join in. . . . In Readers Write, one of our favorite sections of the magazine, readers are invited to contribute short pieces on a broad range of topics, such as Airports or Nine To Five, resulting in a lively, nationwide dialogue.”

The Sun is awesome. I read it from cover to cover. The last inner page, is where they put Sunbeams, a themed collection of quotes. Here is one that is perfect for what I was feeling when Edward was talking about legs:

“This body that we have, this very body that’s sitting here right now in this room, this very body that perhaps aches, and this mind that we have at this very moment, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive. Furthermore, the emotions that we have right now, the negativity and the positivity, are what we actually need. It is just as if we looked around to find out what would be the greatest wealth that we could possibly possess in order to lead to a decent, good, completely fulfilling, energetic, inspired life, and found it right here”.
Pema Chödrön