Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Pickers: On running, berry picking, and losing an old friend

"It is the sea's reach and retreat that reminds me that we have been human for only a very short time." Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

From Mountain House Studios

I am thinking of my cruel heart when I pass the berry pickers on the road.

Running, I search the field for them and only catch a glimpse of bodies crouched low in the brush. Sometimes I want to close the door on something, shore against the chaos, to not have to think of or feel the sadness of loss. I don't lead a sad life. Little occurs here in the woods. I've jogged past tall pines on a forest path. Pines planted a long time ago, older than me, perhaps than my parents--their trunks reaching three stories before branching out. I love the feel of sweat over my forehead as my feet hit the sandy path. I don't exactly like running, yet I do. I like the power of it; I like the feel of my body in motion. And maybe, just a little, I like pushing through the pain. My thoughts collect there. Underfoot.

The pickers are a special people. They know the right picking weather; they have their spots. Some cultivate their own patches. They go in secret. Return filled with the joy of the scavenger.

The sky at night as I float on my back in the lake reminds me of insurmountable distances--lifetimes cast ashore, one's memories of childhood, the richness of God. Forgiveness. But I am just now learning to lose my old friend again. Just now, giving-up. It feels like a turning away from the sky...a silence like an open wound, and an emptying of blue.

Blue turns to red in the air, a warning aginst loss. 


Mark said...

Thank you Emily,

The abundance of unsettling news frayed my nerves. Today,I walked to Del Monte beach in Monterey. The children building sand castles were happy,so were the surfers waiting for swells which never came. For me: A chair, a book, a dog and a cigar helped. The constancy of the ever changing sea renewed me.



Emily Arnason Casey said...

I envy your trip to the sea, its constancy always a sort of prayer, and a reminder of how great and vast this world is... I find the smallness of self both comforting and terrifying, but mostly comforting. Ah, the joy of a cigar!

Kris Arnason said...

For some reason I cried uncontrollably while reading "The Pickers" I could feel loss and my own thoughts slipping away. I wish we could have talked more when you were here. I remember when we would have these 'trying to hard to make it poetic' talks. I love your mom so much and I can't even imagine a life without her. And so I love you because she spills over onto you and because you are you and I think we both have a tendency toward sadness. You're gone now, far-away vermont might as well be the moon-unreachable for me. I didn't tell you about the way I feel about your son. There is something very special about him that makes my heart smile. I have a picture of him I look at and I can feel that even just looking. I love you so much.