What will await us when finally get there? Will it be fair weather or a different affair? Who will we meet once we gain the ground? Be it an ungainly beast or a cuddly hound. When we travel vast distances to find our delight, we hope that we are treated to an eyefull, despite. Treading along on this path of near folly, we sway and we dance, on toes quick made jolly. The winding path is ours, and will always be so. A straight line we’re not, squigley’s how we go! The den will be made with much laughter and joy. Supporting each other, renewing, not coy. To the forest we will go, to teach and to learn. To gather our strength and to renew our strong yearn. Our tale will be long, sun drenched and twisted. Love filled with kisses, full of intention. I love you, my dear, you fill me to the brim. When I lose my tack, my wind, it goes vapid. Your faith never ends and your glow always warms. My hands on your face, your head in my arms. May our journey be sang from the lips of the bards. Their telling of our ways, our trails, they will charm.
The sound of crackling logs. The smell of chill, crisp, pine scented breezes waft through the air. The dull hoot of an owl languidly hangs above us. Scurrying and creeping critters behind us keeps our senses sharp. My body wants to drift off but I cannot pull away from the rich oil deep blackness of the night sky. Specks of cream roil and churn above our heads as the milky way lays itself out before our prostrate bodies. Warm hands intertwined, coats drawn up and snug socks keep out the chill. We are perfect here. This is perfect here. Time has gone and never ends. The moon is our clock and the sun our timer. Borrowing from the forest to eat and play, but always giving back when the time has come. Our journey is long but it always ends.
Retiring to the trees, we take our sleep. The gentle lull of timbers and the slow deep creak. We hang from the canopy on fabric made taught, to glide through the air, on our magical cot. As the forest turns around us, we find our delight. As trees sway and camber, all through the night. Our heads will be warm by hats that we wear. For when we wake from slumber, our hearts will be bare. For the trees they do calm us, on these nights of chill air. As our homes they will keep us, safe from the bears. My wife does sleep close, so that we may not part. And apart we won’t drift, intertwined as a pair. As dawn light breaks on our sleeping brows, we rise from our cribs as young baby sows. The heat it alights our bodies a glow, to bring new to the world, our love shall it grow. The day is a joyous triumph to be seen, a treasure to keep close an eye to be keen. And as the time passes and the trees they do sway. A tale will unfold, of our love each day. Our souls are renewed on this grassy glade, each year we give thanks and return just the same. We shall forever praise the glory of this hallowed place, always giving more than we must take. The wood for our heat, the meat for our bellies, the trees for our home, this place is aplenty. Our children will come and take from the glade. We will show them the bounty and to never be afraid. They will grow and love here and forever give back. For that is the cycle of our unspoken pact.
Strawberry kisses on my neck, orange blossom scenting the air, we throw on our packs and head into the forest. The tart tang of wine on our breathe and we feel invincible. Abi sniffs a fern and eats a blade of sweet-grass. We smile at her excitement for the world. Watching her bloom like the forest, coming alive with every new encounter stirs me with pride. Our family has grown and the incredible feeling of heart-warmth keeps me going.
We pass through lazy streams and duck under low branches, winding our way into the beyond. The air is fresh, crisp, moving, alive. Our bodies are warm, invigorated, pumping life. There is magic everywhere we look. Frogs singing, birds gazing, a baby snake soaking up the sun. The forest responds to our presence with quiet wonder and we in turn show it the respect it shows us. Harmony. Crumbly stones crunching under our boots. Scents of decay, of heat, of pollen filter into our noses. Cycles upon cycles, spiraling around us as we trek through it. The countless wonders to be seen, smelled, heard. Cracking branches, popping water bubbles, squawking birds, buzzing bees.
The pollinators are out, making their effort known. A dance of bees frolicking, jumping into flowers like children cannon-balling into a pool. Sweet, delicious yellow and orange powder thrown joyously from their little bodies. Some sticking to them, others arcing into the sky forming powdery rainbows. A treat to witness. The circles upon circles of life, ever entwined, ever crossing, ever aiding each other, ever battling.
These are the days that remind me how good life is. They keep me strong, clear minded, and wanting to leave the hustle and bustle for a simpler existence. I crave the outdoors, the lone forest trek, a hammock in the shade. Wine under a canopy in silence, in the still. For I much prefer being a silent participant to the dance of life, preferring to close my eyes and soak up the world with my ears, nose, and mouth.
The senses come alive on a warm summer day under the canopy. Blooming, bouncing, springing, winding, trails of sense flow through me. Experience the world with your eyes closed and mind open. Escape yourself. Fall from your consciousness and enter a realm dictated not by sight, but through the scent of the mud, the creak of a limb, the flapping of a wing. Life can be simpler and yet more vibrant when your senses are allowed to function without sight. So the next time you are in the wilderness, find a shady canopy, get comfortable, close your eyes, and fall out of this realm.
People who known me know that I am a maker. It sort of defines my entire life and how I live. My basic values, my mantras, my need to upcycle and reclaim. What not everyone knows is that I also am defined by something else. Something that is invisible on the surface, yet constantly reminds me it is there every minute of my life, and that is muscular dystrophy. My whole life, up until my diagnosis at age 12, I knew something was not quite right. Be it lagging behind in track or weird muscle cramps after gymnastics. Something felt off. After my diagnosis, it had a name, McArdle’s Syndrome. I found out I was part of a small community of people throughout the world, nearly 1 in every 100,000 who suffer from this disease. It changed my life. No longer was I able to wrestle, run, or do competitive sports like my peers. I would immediately cramp up and then live in a hospital bed for weeks at a time recovering. Suffice it to say, I had to find other passions to sustain me.
I took up guitar, shrugging off the constantly cramped fingers and hands that would turn into claws from twinged muscles. I took up swimming and bike riding, everything had to be low impact and low strain. Since I had always been crafty and into making things, I found this a good activity to keep me active and my brain engaged.
I built everything as a kid. Potato canons, slingshots, rockets, robots, rope swings, tree houses, skate ramps, motorized scooters, you name it! As young teen, I even enrolled in a local junior college to learn electronics. I was hooked on a trade that would be low impact with high yield. Making was my outlet. Yet I had to be careful to not overdo myself as building supplies can be heavy and sometimes require a lot of effort. Over the past few years, I have definitely found myself in the hospital multiple times after a bad fall or accident or pulling a muscle. Thankfully nothing life crippling has happened and I continue to make every day.
While this disease affects me every second, I do not let it dictate my life. I still get into the shop to carve, sculpt, weld, grind, cut, and sand. I may go slower than other makers and my projects might take me longer to produce because I need more breaks, but when you have a passion and a drive, why let anything stop you? So when you see me rubbing my cramped and clawed hands after cutting dovetails, or sitting down because my back has seized up after grinding for a thirty minutes, know that I am happy as hell doing what I love for as long as I can do it.
For me, true strength does not come from brute strength, it never has. True strength to a maker with muscular dystrophy, comes from perseverance, hard-work, and being maker-enough to go slow and take my time.
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Thanks for reading.