When I was a child, I was fortunate to live near a now rare Illinois prairie. Oh, and a swamp at one end of the prairie, right before a suburban housing subdivision.
As I get older, I begin to understand how much that open space, those wildflowers, those butterflies, that swamp mist, those ancient swamp trees–what they all meant to me. They are part of my very core, part of my poetry even when I am writing about teaching or abuse or anything. Why? This core of beauty and mystery provides strength, curiosity, and respect deep within, helping me find courage in this increasingly terrifying world. I am deeply sensitive, deeply afraid of much, deeply observant. Without this core, I think I would have become crushed as some family members have been–utterly broken down.
But mountains and a starry filled night sky have NOT been part of that core. I live in an area with too many people, too much light pollution in order to see that starry night filled sky. The few times I have seen such a sky I was overwhelmed and nearly had to squint–it was so much beauty at one time. But those times have been few.
And living in the “Land of Lincoln” means flatness everywhere. Flat, flat, flat–which made for gorgeous sunrise and sunset viewing. But it’s all so open. I’d like to see mountains. Last time we drove to NC, I panicked in the mountains, but I feel I’m better able to handle all that too.
I am not an easy person to know, nor an easy person to live with, even for myself. I am very high maintenance, very stressed, very much TOO MUCH. But I have a talent for gratitude and do not take things for granted.
We are headed to a family reunion in the great Rocky Mountains tomorrow, and I am beyond excited. I am overwhelmed by the prospect of seeing stars, seeing mountains.
As to seeing family, that’s another long story. (My family is a novel waiting to be written but too painful to write.) I love my husband’s family dearly, and this will be a great gathering.
Thanks for reading.