Saturday, January 04, 2014

Termite Trails

Do you ever feel like your life goes in some kind of strange pattern and if you could just stop, pull back and view it all from a distance, it might - just maybe - all make sense??

That's what I think of when I see the patterns that the termites have carved under the bark of this fallen tree in the creek. I took a different path last week and found myself astraddle this tree and became mesmerized by the termites and their world. 

I need this. I need moments of wonder that have nothing to do with my own life. Moments free of the pressures...real and imagined. The need to earn a living. The loneliness of this life. The sadness of losing so many I have loved. The anger from changes I'm not ready to accept. The pettiness of people who value surface over substance. They wear me down and I need an escape... daily.

That is my biggest fear about any job. How will it work in winter when the sun isn't up til 7 and is gone by 4?

The other week, when I wrote this poem about Mabel, I was crying so hard. Not just because the thought that our days together are not nearly as long as I wish they were but because my Mom had tore into me that day. Instead of being able to write about that, I wrote about my love for my dog.

I was going to explain all that on another post from last week, but my muse apparently forgets just where she's supposed to lead me and when. Sigh... Silly Muse!

In true narcissistic form, my mother rarely asks how I am and it's even rarer for her to wait or listen for an answer. So imagine what planets must have collided that day for her to do both!

I answered that I thought I was getting a cold, which set my mother off.

Most days our phone calls consist of me typing and semi- ignoring her on my speakerphone as she rips into some relative's life. "Why does he do that? His ex-wife is a _____________! He ain't got no sense"... and on and on it goes. I do pay some attention...listening for any problems I may have to deal with but when her complaining and negativity and criticism of others gets too much for me to bear, I make up some excuse to get off the phone.

She rarely rips into me as I'm the only person who has anything to do with her. But my potential cold...

"You drag yourself out to that damn creek at all hours of the damn day to please a damn dog!"

Before I could begin to defend my life and my choices she tossed in, "And you could've had you a nice job in a warm building but no... You want to work in a damn cold shed..."

I wasn't in the mood to fight. I simply said, rather tersely, "I have to go."

I just sat here crying, hating the fact that my mother, my only blood family, has known me for 50 years and yet...she doesn't KNOW me. Nor does she want to.

If she knew me at all, she would know that I've been slipping off out in the woods for a good walkabout alone for...well, since I could wander off and trust that she wouldn't panic and miss me!

She would go visit her girlfriends... all of them lived on the edge of some wooded area... and off I would go. One lived through the woods from a drive in. I used to love to slip off in those woods on a summer night when I could still hear their voices but see the movie. My grandmother had 160 acres next door to my uncle's 60 acres. I knew every fruit grove and pond and dilapidated house on both properties.  My step-aunt and step-grandparents had back to back dairy farms and fish ponds on 70 acres. My uncle in our town lived on 60 acres of hobby farm land. My uncles in Denham Springs and New Orleans each owned triple lots. There was much to explore.

Even when I moved to LA, I wanted to explore my little section of town on foot. And as soon as I discovered our rugged mountains, I would go for hikes alone as often as I could. I would even drive home along Mulholland - the mountain road that straddles the peak between city and valley - after a hard day just so I could pull over and take it all in. And just breathe. I need that. I've always needed that.

Living in Argentina, working on a movie, I would walk the three miles to work as often as my over-protective driver would allow.  I would walk for dinner and if I could leave the office, I would walk to pick up lunch or to the pharmacy. Sundays, my coworkers slept til noon and we would meet for lunch and adventure. But I was always up by 5:30 for a walk to the docks for sunrise, through a garden, breakfast at the only pancake house I could find followed by a walk to the park and the graveyard. I loved the quiet beauty of the Recoleta Cemetary. I saw more of Buenos Aires than all of my friends put together. And I saw it on foot.

Walking takes all my fears and frustrations and puts them on a shelf. It is my daily time to breathe...just breathe. It is why, despite my weight issues, I have amazing blood pressure. Despite my penchant for sweets, my sugar is low. It is why I had pneumonia but had no idea... walking moves the crud out of your lungs!

And the only thing that has changed in my life is, as I've gotten older, I realized it's probably not safe for a woman to be out in the middle of nowhere all alone. And so I carry a phone and a dog. You see, the dog is for my pleasure, not the other way around. Yes, I adore that our walks make Mabel so very happy. But they make me happy. If they didn't, we'd be leash-walkers.
Like those termite trails, all roads seem to converge. Mine converge on the back porch, where my tennis shoes are waiting for another walk. That's the only thing that has ever made any sense to me.


rottrover said...

Those damned dogs! They get us out of the house and out of our overs time heads!! Every day!! OMG!

rottrover said...

Well I wrote "over active" heads...iPad..

Ruth said...

That is the loveliest essay I've had the pleasure to read in a very long time. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts. My personal world was made up of ants and blades of grass when I was very small and the world very large and incomprehensible. The shots of Mabel were wonderful also. Thank you.

Dexter said...

Wonderful. I know what you mean about walking. Being outside, alone with your thoughts, is very calming. I, too, have been a walker all my life (but it is more fun with a canine companion).

Mango Momma

K9friend said...

I think everyone finds a way to escape the things in life that cause stress. For most of us, it's a positive choice like exercise, reading, or writing. It's how we cope.

Thank you for these beautifully written words.

Critter Alley

GOOSE said...

MOM and I walk and hike for each other. Keep walking, keep walking.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

Walking is a great stress reliever. We wish Mom would walk us more but between the cold and the slippery walkways it isn't safe for her:(

Hope you have a good week ahead.

Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

Linda@VS said...

Just wrote a long comment about this post that was deleted (I got an error message) the minute I clicked on "publish your comment." This time I'll be briefer: I like that you shared a personal story with us. You did that a lot when you first started this blog, and I miss those posts about you.

Okay, let's see if this one goes through.

Dory and the Mama said...

I so get this....thank you so much for sharing!

Mollie said...

My Mom doesn't walk me much, she takes me to the field with the ball to ware be out BOL. Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true for 2014 xxxooxxxx

Mollie and Alfie

Duly Inspired said...

Thank you for sharing yourself, for taking those walks with your dog and for working in a cold shed. You got this! xo

Barbara SDempsey said...

beautiful. it is evident that God is with you more often than you think - xo