Night bends like no other thing. I stand at the river and watch the darkness pulse across the breaks, dulling the hard edge of shadows, inking the high places indigo, the deep blue of evening arcing through sturdy lengths of cottonwood grove; everything waits for the slow heave of the moon.
We are camped along the rollicking width of the Missouri River tonight in a glorious cottonwood forest. There is wild rose all around and though I can not yet see them, their perfect perfume hangs thickly in the air and pools around my senses. Settling into bed is bliss. The Airstream is terribly comfortable (we have a high quality mattress in the walnut bed frame that is chiropractic and amazing and small — we are almost forced to spoon, which I adore: Airstream = cozy loving.). It will be hard to get up in the morning. Now I’ll shut off the lights, hold Robert’s hand in the dark and watch the moon rise through the window above the bed, and all other celestial bodies with it.
I woke up this morning around 5AM to see the sun blazing up over the cut bank of the river, through the forest and into the back window of the trailer. I imagined to myself that somewhere, a veil had been torn away from the entrance to the Holy of Holies and I was laying beneath the beautiful and shining face of God. I was transported by the strength of the light, as I often am in the summer months. I wonder, how much greater is the shining glory of God than the face of the sun which is, at times, more beauty that I can endure.
I thought to myself, as I lay there in the sunrise, that I needed to get up out of bed and find a way to photograph the sun in the forest but I couldn’t make myself roll out from underneath the blankets, so peaceful was the world, so handsome was Robert where he lay sleeping, so aware was I of my clattering human heart making gentle rings of joyful waves like a raindrop into infinite blue waters. I watched the world outside of the Airstream window for a while before blinking and nodding my way back into sleep.
The cottonwood forest is filled with so much grace. This grove is filled with especially graceful trees. I can feel and see that they are of the same family, sired by the same grandfather tree — the resemblance of each tree to each other is uncanny. Trees don’t grow like humans, instead of having a certain nose or wide set eyes, I see the way the trees here are similar in upwardness; they grow lanky, tall and straight, branching off into arcing crowns that sweep out in smooth, unbroken curves so that the edge of the forest seems to be bending towards me as I stand beneath the canopy; reaching for me, hoping to deposit silver stars in the pockets of my denim shirt. I think they are reaching down to shake my hands, their branches are the tail of a crisp salute. At ease, trees! At ease! Oh, you beautiful, stalwart companions.
It’s truly a magnificent forest. A handsome family of trees, if I ever saw one. From where I stand I cannot see a single blighted, dead or rotting tree. The undergrowth is lush, tender and bountiful. I’m glad we landed here overnight. I feel energized and soothed by this environment.
The birdsong is beautiful, a delightful chorus. It has a slightly foreign sound to it. I tell Robert it’s like being suddenly surrounded by Canadian accents when I travel home to Saskatoon. It’s a sound that I fit into but have been away from long enough that suddenly hearing it again is a homecoming carefully seasoned with a peppering of strangeness. I know this bird chorus, it’s a blend from a river that passes through grasslands, it’s an arrangement of bird noises similar to what I hear on my home river in Saskatchewan and I’m suddenly aware of how good it feels to be more North, more homeward. Roots have snuck out of the heart that rests inside my chest. I can feel them magnetically pulling me closer to the border, inching like caterpillars towards the Great Northern Plains and the wide open sky of that place. I am headed home. Home.