Cattails fill the ditch on Skeena Way. From my little writing room in Casa Cuervo, across the road, I watch them change from green to silver as the wind blows. Sometimes, even though we love a place, we cannot stay there. I love the big sky over the ocean and Mt. Baker hanging ghostly over Birch Bay. Beaver Pond reflects trees and sky, floats lily pads, and is home to a great blue heron. We have a calmness here that exists in few places. Sunshine Hill comes close, but whispers constantly of tasks that need tending.

I'd planned to write and paint during this trip--that and we were going to sell the cottage. It's a long commute for the quiet of just a few weeks a year. But the Realtor talked us out of selling and into renting. Immediate relief. It means we might be back sometime and that the rent we receive can finance the costs we'd been incurring during our long absences.

Cattails turn me into a girl again, living back in Minnesota, watching the redwing blackbirds float on cattail tips, watching during the final months of summer as the thick brown tail loosened and became white fluff. The ditches there were deep and wide and the cattails thick. I picked bouquets of them. They don't grow everywhere; I didn't know that then.

In the time of life called youth, leaving an old home for a new always felt like a kind of birth, a promise of a fuller future, an adventure. And even though it brought heartache with it, even though there were goodbyes, what lay ahead dazzled the imagination. I was twenty-one when I wrote this little poem:

Strength flaming forth from love,
I leave this place.
One cannot weep
While one is being born.

In my elder years feelings are both the same and different. Every place that's ever been part of my life remains in my heart, and that's the way they stay; as a sense, a spirit, a kind of presence. And places are not just homes, they are places beside people I've loved, they are the touch of those people, they are the scent of the newborn's head, they are the first kiss, they are the aura, the surround of whatever happened, whatever has been. But the thing itself leaves or I leave it. The house. The friend. the parent. the child. Even the body I once knew--my own or that of the beloved. Gone, but here in the heart.

When do we reach the point in the journey when what lies ahead no longer dazzles, but (as a miraculous young poet once wrote) "is filled with nothing enough to fill you"? Then I simply sit and watch the cattails while they remain. Then I love fully whatever is in front of me. Even the losses can be loved for the great presence left behind.

Misty Mount Baker

Roadside Daisy

Beaver Pond

Ancient Cedar at Casa Cuervo

Time to Go


Cecile said…
Wonderful sentiments Christin. I look forward to seeing you soon and am absolutely thrilled for you that you are able to retain such a beautiful retreat. Cecile
Thanks, Cecile -- I'll see you next week. Christin
Stratoz said…
For ten years we were quite mobile. Long moves after two or three years. We seemed to have settled down, though it was never the plan. ;')
It seems life never really goes according to plan -- Something deeper than that seems to move us.

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