Changing Tides

Justine grabbed her back pack, heaving it up and onto her thickly leather-clad back. This damn thing gets heavier every time I put it on. There were the usual clicks and rubs as she secured it into place with the nylon straps that wrapped around her waist and over her shoulders. Thank God it’s October! The mountains are at the peak of their blaze, now. Grabbing her half-helmet, Justine headed out the door.

Once in her driveway, she checked to make sure that her tent and sleeping bag were rolled and secured tightly into place on the Ground Pounder. Sufficiently assured that everything was in place, she slid into the saddle and started up her bike. Ahhhh, that low rumble was the sound of pure freedom!. She put her helmet on over top of her skull cap. This was meant to contain some of her long, thick raven black hair, now in a fat, silken braid down her back. Putting on her sunglasses, and the bike in gear, she carefully pulled from her driveway. Man, those winding mountain roads would never be close enough.

The low rumble of the Ground Pounder turned into a loud, persistent growling. It shook the earth enough to make the pictures on the walls of her neighbors rattle. Once on Main Street heading out of town, she came to a stoplight. Spotting a fellow biker who was heading in the opposite direction immediately caught her gaze. I shouldn’t be riding alone. When the light turned green, she began pulling away and turned her head slightly and nodded an acknowledgment to the other biker. Knowing that her insatiable curiosity was going to catch up with her someday, she once again threw caution to the wind. It might be someone I know, she reasoned.

Just as I was passing the other biker, a prickling tingle of fear ran up my spine. That was odd. I must be seeing things? With growing curiosity, she noticed that the other biker had the same identical bike as her own, which was unusual enough since there were only 1000 of these bikes ever made. But, even the paint and pipes were identical. That’s just impossible! My paint and my pipes are custom! Somehow, though, this other bike had both of the same, only the colors in the airbrushed painting on our gas tanks, were somehow…inverted. But it was more than that. It was so much more than that. I suddenly felt that my entire life was about to come to a screeching halt. Ice crept up my spine.

I kept thinking about what I had seen long after passing the other biker. Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me? There is no way I could have seen what I did. No one could possibly look that much like me!

I did decide her imagination was just getting the better of her. She was heading out of town, and up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for a badly needed four day weekend and she had opted to spend her weekend alone up in the mountains. I was going to my own little known spot. There’s a source of natural energy there that acts almost as a protective shield around me, allowing me to meditate and heal myself from the dredges of the world for a bit.

The ride took about two hours. Bliss and peace. Cruising through the winding mountain roads, the smell of fall was crisp in the air and I could detect that familiar odor of camp fires and wood stoves. The blazing October forests were as spectacular, intense and beckoning as they ever had been before. I finally came to a small and seemingly insignificant trail on my right and I turned onto it. It had thick vines and was almost indiscernible for all of the Spanish moss clinging to the trees and pooling on the ground. The trail was almost completely grown over. As I was still looking back, I juiced her and took off for my parking “spot”. I gathered all my gear, still feeling like my body was super charged with electric volts from the vibration that comes with the territory for most bikers. I still had a hike ahead of me; It was a short one; about thirty minutes, but it was all uphill. Once there, I let out a long, beautiful exhale. The view from my camp site was probably the most beautiful from anywhere else on Grandfather Mountain. The mountains were ablaze with the colors of fall. Like an artist’s rendering, they were painted: reds, yellows, oranges and purples, with a hint of summers lasting green here and there.

I’m losing light quickly. Once I had gathered wood, I set up my camp and then started the fire. My bones are tired, I thought as I gazed into the fire. Within seconds I was pulled from my reverie by a steady crunching of leaves under someone’s foot. With my back to the sound, I reached into my jacket and pulled out a .40 XDM. I twisted around as I pulled up the muzzle and directly in the line of my sights about 20 yards away, was that biker.

Lessons of Love

When I was 10, I brought home a stray cat who was malnourished and his hair was falling out. It took my parents 24 hours of “discussion” before they would let me keep him. With that out of the way, I went about finding all the information I could about how to nurse the cat back to health. After a few hours of painstakingly preparing the cat’s abode (which was fit for a king), the cat and I snuggled up and drifted off to sleep.

The searing pain on my belly was intense enough to jolt me from my deep slumber. I bolted upright and looked down at the source of my pain and in the bright fall moonlight I could clearly see 3 bloody scratches about 6 inches long directly across my abdomen. I put the cat in my closet and went back to sleep but I didn’t tell my mom about it because I thought she’d make me get rid of him.

So the next night, I put him in my closet again with his bed, food and litter box. When I woke the next morning, he had somehow gotten out and had torn my room apart. When I jumped out of the bed the first thing I could see was my reflection in my mirror and I was covered…literally covered…in cat scratches. So I cleaned myself up and got dressed, because today was the first day of school.

When I got home that afternoon, I went up to my room to see my cat. I walked over to his bed because I could see his soft fur in a little ball as he napped there. As I was reaching down to him my heart began racing. He was dead. I was heartbroken.

When my mom came home and I showed her the cat, she asked me if he had bitten or scratched me. I tensed as I lifted my shirt and showed her all the scratches.

The next thing I knew, the CDC was at our house. Everybody had masks and suits on and they took blood from everyone who had any contact with my cat.

That was the last I ever heard about any of it. I never found out why my cat died. Or maybe I did and I just blacked it out.

All of that preparation, nurturing, allowance money, scratches, hiding wounds and love, and I only owned that cat for a week. Not to mention the fact that I cried for at least 3 weeks after that! Never again, right?

Every animal I’ve owned since then have been strays and rescues, or I’ve taken them home from shelters.

Hey….everyone wants to be needed, which may be where this story started. In the end, though, this experience turned out to be my very first lesson in unconditional love.

My Serenity

I only watched the news this morning in order to catch the weather, but I had to sit through a surfeit of dubious political crap before I could ascertain whether to wear sunglasses or a raincoat. All I wanted to do was to get on with my day. Just as this thought occurred to me, my brain decided that cogitating about the day’s events was much more interesting than equivocal campaign messages.

So I let my mind wander and allowed my body to follow my head. Before I knew it I was on the motorcycle zipping through the switchbacks up the mountain. What a stunning day! Nature is my muse and she is hosting a creative colloquium today. I’d better hurry because I don’t want to miss a thing.

I settle into my seat at the top of this mountain, just above the lake and I can see for miles. The sunshine at my back and the perfect temperature are fortuitous. Not that I would care if it were raining. I’d still be here. I rue the day old man winter rears his ugly head. That means it will be another nine months before I can come back here again. It feels like I’m being castigated for having an awesome summer.

I know it sounds utopian, but if you are very still and quiet you will hear the cacophony that is nature’s symphony and you will smell the piney scent of the Rockies. That, my friends, is God’s stage; larger than life and humbling. Nature has a particular discernment where my soul is concerned. I keep coming back so that I can learn what her secret balm is. She quiets my mind and paves the way for my creative journeys. I could sit here for hours and hours lost in my reverie and for this, I am eternally grateful.

All That I am

I am holding good intentions
I bleed when I see your tears
I am a master of retention
I am scalded by my own fears.

I can paint a different sunrise
In every persons mind
For words are my tools in life
Yet I cannot tell you why.

I am frightened by your anger
I am frightened by my own
I am at your mercy
When tenderness is shown

I can see the road
I cannot see the path
I am at a crossroads
Yet I’m running much too fast.

I am yearning for peace
Yet I create confusion
When I am told to take a seat
I become an explosion

I can clearly see my dreams
But the space in between is mottled
I yearn to express my love
My anger remains bottled

I am not so far fetched
To believe in sunshine as fair game
My thoughts are not so stretched
To not include the rain.

My life is not out of sequence
I am not completely whole
I am wonderfully romantic
I am not all that I know.

I am love trapped indoors
I am bursting to be free
I am unsure of my position
I am longing to be me.

I am lacking in responsibility
I am a source of compassion
I am afraid to let you down
I am afraid of my own passion

I see things that you do not
I sometimes know what is true
I have a very clear picture
I truly love you

I feels things like a picture
They are visual to me
I am careful not to hurt you
I am not all that you see.

I am a big heart
I am tingling inside
I crumble with criticism
Often I will hide

I a very large
I am fear and sadness and pain
I am life and love and happiness
I am all that I have gained

I will be everything to you
I will be nothing at all
I will create what is in your heart
I will sometimes be very small

I am all things in life
That are good and bad
Right or wrong
Happy or sad

I am a product of my knowledge
I am proud of who I am
I have room to grow and grow
I do not know the end.

Letting Go

In the mellow dunes of amber, there are weeds bending like wires in the wind
Where the cattails bat playfully at the sky;
That is where they dwell and keep; these selfless, innocent loves o’ mine.
Too pure and true to know anything otherwise, their eyes shine brightly with trust and love
N’er I could do them any harm, yet will who I am…always be enough?
When their little hands slip silently into my own do they sense how frightened I am?
In my deepest darkness it was their lights which shone
It is only but for their smiles, I know I somehow can.
Oh little ones, wrap your arms around me, let me hold you and feel the beating of your hearts
Let us dance under the moon by the twinkling sea; Let us drink up all that is merry, lest we one day be apart.
When her boy grows into a fine young man her heart strings weep sorrowfully in silence
For the loss of her child’s hand; She smiles sweetly, as she cries inside at the violence.
How suddenly his hand had outgrown its place; How urgently his mind began reaching beyond her
Oh, how violent is this now empty space which once contained all that was in her.
Now many years long and settling in this place, she’s found a new space in their hearts
She cries out when they become displaced and their ferocity tears her apart.
Have you not learned from watching this world? Have your eyes not seen destruction enough?
Have you strayed so far from your truth? Have you forgotten and forsaken your love?
What bloody words do you spat in your brother’s eye?
What poison with glutton do you drink?
What bridges do you burn with such might?
Come tomorrow, what will your heads think?
This mother grieves in anguish and torment for the loss of all that once was so sound
She yearns  for their long dead innocence, for in this turmoil and lonliness, she is sure to drown.
One hand reaches out to her so sweetly…
At its sight she is pulled swiftly to where the light shone
Oh, now there are two hands…so completely
Joining as one, once again, with her own.
 Mine are no Cain and Able, but are strong; No dull blade of darkness can sever their line
Though days of strife may sometimes go long, they are brothers, in love and truth, for as long as time.