We got up early in the morning to begin our quest. We wanted to have the whole day ahead of us, to go at a relatively leisurely pace, and to be prepared for any potential adventures, as both of us were unfamiliar with the mountain. We had scouted possible ascent routes earlier in the year, while snow still lay upon the ground from top to bottom, and we were leaning toward tackling the steeper North Face - ice picks in hand, crampons to foot, and oxygen masks at the ready.
However, by the time a day arrived that combined time, availability, and inclination for both of us, the snow and ice were long melted from the flanks of our fair peak, and we decided at the last minute to drive to the southwest slope, where my esteemed climbing partner had identified a known and safe route to the summit. Actually, we didn’t get going that early either, and we parked at the trailhead around 11:30 AM, in a quiet, hilly, suburban neighborhood. Gathering our supplies from the vehicle didn’t take long, and soon we were happily on the trail.
The conversation, I recall, was excellent. L and I have a way of playing off each other’s energy to become more and more animated and excited. We talked of thoughts and ideas; plans, dreams, and visions; books, movies, music, and dance. Of course we talked much about relationships, in true feminine form, with people, with the land, with the unseen… And we took in the world around us. It was a glorious sunny day, soft and alive with Springtime. It was Mother’s Day - I remember taking pictures of wild bouquets of red Paintbrush, blue Larkspur, and yellow Asteraceae in bright bloom to send to my Mom. Butterflies fluttered indulgently from flower to flower.
We accidentally passed by the unassuming summit at first, and were deep in conversation when we realized we were starting to head down the other side. “Oops!” We turned back smartly and located the highest ground we could find. Juniper trees shaded the gentle slope, thwarting my idea of a stark, barren summit pose photo - flag blowing in the harsh wind and goggles caked with frost. Alas. But we did snap a few photos and sign the summit register, basking in the glow of our achievement. I sang my Mountain Song three times, as is my custom. Then we wandered a short ways away and sat down for a rest and a snack.
We each took some solo time to be with the place and offer what we had felt moved to bring as gifts. Before we set out I had focussed my attention on this mountain to ask what might be appreciated. I had written a draft of a poem, intending to rework it up there, but it turned out I didn’t bring a pen, and it seemed better for the purpose anyway in the rough form it came in. Yet again circumstance dictated what the mind may have tried to force another way.
I also had a hunch this mountain wanted something made by my two hands, which I would be led to make once I got there. After sitting for a while in contemplation, I stood up and walked in openness. I found some clay that only needed some liquid from my body to become a modeling compound, added a bit of plant fiber and carried it with me, allowing my hands to form it as I went. Soon I came to a gorgeous Juniper skeleton all turns and twists and exotic, flamelike projections of trunk and limb. It gracefully reached out a hand to receive my tiny sculpture. I admired the effect for a moment and considered taking a photo, but this piece was for an offering. “This is between you and me.” And I left it to the Wild Beauty That Surrounds Us At All Times. My heart felt peace.
On my walkabout to rejoin with L, a hummingbird came to greet me with curiosity, hovering a couple feet in front of me for a few moments suspended, eye to eye. Swallows were dancing through the air on the South Side in seeming joy at their own movement in space. I felt included in their play as they swooped and flitted in grandiose arcs all around me.
I saw a look in L’s eye that told me more than words could that her solo time had been good for her as well. I read my poem aloud with our human ears for witness and buried the biodegradable paper beneath a tree.
With a last parting gratitude we started back to the world of people.
Photo credit: all photos of me, the Junipers with mountains in the background, and the flowers on the left all taken by Laura Zick.