It's about berry picking as a sacrament ...

Sunday, August 12, 2001 11:03 PM

Saturday, I ran for the first time since the surgery. I ran very carefully and slowly at first and not for very long at all. Just enough to see that it worked. I ran in a meadow as carefully manicured as a soccer field, with few people and nothing to worry about colliding with. Then, on Sunday, I walked for perhaps a kilometer up a steep logging road, mostly coarse gravel, in my Birkenstock sandals on the way to the lake.

We walked pretty fast uphill until we got to a trail - the trail is the way it used to be before the logging, when Jessica was a kid and lived in a house near the meadow I had run in the day before, and then we all took off our shoes and walked slowly and reverently, barefoot through the forest.

Cedar trees, lichens, moss, rotting logs. Wonderful soft textures. Walking with conscious feet, feeling as much as we could feel with every step for at least another kilometer. Eventually, we came to a river with almost no water and walked along the riverbed. Amazing textures under our bare feet. Mud and clay and fine sand and soft round gravel, then back onto the trail until we got to the lake and clambered over massive lichen-covered basalt boulders the size of cars until we got to the place where Jessica used to dive when she was 15, and took off our clothes and felt the sun on our skin and dove from the rocks into a deep pool and swam and swam and swam and each found our own rock to bask on. I was last to dive in because I took pictures for Jessica with her camera of her and her sweetie swimming together in the shimmering water.

After an hour or so Michael and I left together, so that the two lovers could be lovers on the moss-covered rocks in the sunshine. And I had a huge ah-hah on the way down, teaching him about which berries to eat and how to choose them.

It's about berry picking as a sacrament, as a direct connection between my being and the earth. It occurred to me that the very most important time I have lived may well be the time I've spent picking berries. I can remember almost every occasion and many of the individual berries. I was totally overwhelmed that I could remember so much. That's like remembering the individual ties on the railroad tracks on a train-trip from here to San Diego.

Tour de force ...

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