Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Life of Walking

--> I read that the Tarahumara Indians of the southwest Sierra Madres must, when they die, make a journey to every place they ever lived and collect their footprints. These, along with their hair, they must present to their god. What an interesting concept. I wouldn’t have much hair to present (mine has always been rather fine and thin) but collecting my footprints would be great fun.

I’d start at the place where I was raised in Massachusetts. My footprints are in every room of my beloved homestead. They race up and down the stairs and out the doors, cover every inch of yard, front and back, then venture off into field and forest. They climb the old apple tree that grew beside the berry patch, find narrow, prickly paths between the blackberry canes, stop at the edge of the brook that bordered the property, leap from an old stump at the side of the road. And the road! I’d need another lifetime to collect all the footprints I’ve left on my old home street.

After leaving home as a young adult, I lived in New Mexico. My footprints must still be in Albuquerque and in Old Town, in the arroyos and the desert sands along the Rio Grande River. They must still wander through dormitories, resound in the dimly lit, spidery tunnel that connected the classrooms, trace their way along the sidewalks of Santa Fe, climb the mystical, winding stairs of Loretto Academy.

Having collected those, I would search next in Media, Pennsylvania where I moved as a bride, and in King of Prussia, Philadelphia, and the Amish towns of New Hope and Lancaster. Next, I’d search them out in Kansas City, Missouri, where I spent a few months with my newborn son while his father served in the military, and then in several Connecticut towns - Glastonbury, Bristol, and Tariffville - where we first settled as a young family. My footsteps must still ramble down the winding country roads,
through the cemetery where I often sat and dreamed at the foot of a life-sized statue of the Good Shepard, and along the sidewalks of Simsbury and Avon.
I’d have to drive far north to find the next set, up through the green hills of Northern Vermont. How long would it take to gather twelve years of footprints from Noyesville where we spent our first shivery winter, to Danville where we homesteaded in a hand-hewn log cabin for the next eleven years? How many times did I go up and down the back hill to the outhouse, up and down the front hill that served as a driveway, hauling loads of laundry and groceries during mud season when the car couldn’t make it up? How many times did I climb the drive, hauling countless gallons of water from All Right Springs ten miles away when our well went dry? 

My feet also walked ground in St. Johnsbury, in Greensboro, in Barton and Glover, in Morrisville, Newport, and Montpelier. I’ve left traveler’s prints in fifteen other states, in Canada, and in parts of beautiful, green England, northern France, Holland, and Germany.

Now my footsteps lay themselves down on a new road just three miles from where they first began. They’ve crisscrossed Main Street a million times, left themselves along Giberson in search of daisies, at the Mill Pond dam where I lean over the bridge to watch the chaos theory in action, along Miller to town, and over the bridge up Cook Road on my way to work. They’ve traversed Bear’s Den Road and Berkshire School Road, pattered along Salisbury Road and down Root Lane. Collecting them all will be life-affirming, for in every footprint I know I will also find a piece of my self.


Hilary said...

How I love this. You never fail to bring a concept to life with your always-perfect words.

I'm glad to see you are blogging, Pauline. The world needs your beauty. <3

Barbara said...

I'm so glad you're sharing your beautiful writing with us again. You have a gift for descriptions so vivid... I was running alongside you the whole way as you collected your footprints, and also thought of everywhere I'd left my own. Thank you! xoxo

Molly Bon said...

Makes you wonder about the ancient chief who might have come up with this story. There's always such wisdom and understanding in these rituals that tells of a close connection with nature, and with the one who created it all. Whatever you call him/her - God, Buddha, Allah,- I think she/he is the same for everyone. We just all have slightly different stories.....I'd love to invest in some stout hiking boots and go on such a walk. Failing that, I loved going along on yours.

So good to see you back!

Tabor said...

Oh my, maybe I should make a list!!

Out on the prairie said...

See the world only to end up back at or near your start is unusual.

Pauline said...

Hilary - such kind words! Thank you. I will probably be here more often since I've decided to take a rest from facebook.

Barbara - isn't it a neat concept? When I reread what I read, I realized how many places I'd left out!

Molly - I thought about that, too. I'm not sure I believe in a deity who keeps track, but the idea of being able to collect one's footprints intrigued me.

Tabor, if you do, I'd love to read it!

OOTP - is it? I thought it was fairly common if one had a deep love of one's original home. I have many school friends who resettled here after years away.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've missed your writing. This is so perfect, a travelogue of your life for us to savour and for me to cruise my own footprints and see where I wore out some paths and danced on others.

Thank you!


Pauline said...

I've been bogged down in politics and FB memes. Time to be more creative and use my time more wisely. So, reading more, writing again and even doing some artwork. I feel better for it.