Cathy Schwartz 00:04 Quiet dinner date at home First time in a long while. Too much work. Not enough play lately. Casually leaning in close together, lips smile, listening, both sharing this days stories until the spark of a little tiff comes nudges in between us. An old familiar squabble. We both lean back, begin tossing out a brouhaha of words that clash like wooden swords. Egos bruise, strong wills bristle an impasse. Lip seal tightly shut, laying down our weapons, unspoken consensus, some time and some space apart alone. Our healing balm through the years. He pulls up his computer, I pulled out my backpack, then toss out a last word. I’m going to Schwabacher Landing to watch the lunar eclipse, the Blood Moon implode and listen to some beaver chomp down big trees. His eyes scanning movie trailers, ear pods in, he waves a hand goodbye in my direction. I make a face at him. But he’s oblivious. I grab the keys, bumped the door open with my hip. It swings wide just as his voice echoes from the room. Enjoy. Be careful. Do love you. I sigh reach out at the last second. Catch the door just before it slams shut. Then let it go with a quiet snick into place. A truce. Take my anger with me. Hope to let it fade as the sun goes down. Schwabacher Landing a perfect place for this night’s reflections. The lunar eclipse will be doubled in its mirrored pond, where real and illusion melt together, visible and invisible, glimpsed then hidden, a weave of marsh and meadow. A good place to let go, gaze on this moon bereft of brilliance for short moment, shining in its own quiet repose hanging low in shadow, to watch the stars shine round it a little brighter, and the darkness deepen. And tonight I’ll just take a pavsa, settle into that quiet place between thought and sleep. And let old love have some time to sort itself out. I pull down into S are landing. Still early in the season, no cars no RVs no wedding stragglers from this famous photo shoot location. Panorama of the Teton Range. Snake River weaving beneath a dusting of snow on sprouting stones and spring colors tonight. curtain of clouds ragged and torn snag over the tips of rose gold peaks. Moon and stars will soon appear each called by name and sung into this dance so long ago. No breeze, so the mirror image of the Tetons is painted perfectly on the water. This scene, a gift from the beavers tirelessly working or maybe always playing, with bits of branch and trees they felled and dabs of mud they plaster together a home, from which this beautiful enchantment around them was born. Walking along the trail beside the eastern edge, stop at the last group of trees. Sunlight fingers through the canyon touches the tip of the den and glows over the pond. A swan floats in the middle of the mirage feathers swirling in the gloaming. It’s shining twin a mystic bird of light. One paddles through water, the other swims through sky. Whitehead tilts, beak dips into the pond, piercing the illusion then rises up and flings water to the sky. Drops of sunlight rain back down onto the surface. Images melt into swirls patterns ripple out and colors dissolve in the marsh grass at my feet. I stand at this place where a family, a colony of beavers have built their den and made a little bit of paradise,these marshlands a place where real and reflected images are captured for lovers ephemera. Where hopeful promises have been vowed and wild hearts have dared to be friend, to be true. Loves longings, like me and mine so many years ago, so full of lows imaginings Funny that I feel my anger begin to fade with the sunlight. Cathy Schwartz 05:10 Head back towards the game trail pass the little beaver dam. Step along a wobbly log.. sinks. water pours over my feet, hop to a clump of grass, sidle around freshly dropped bison pies. Check for the deceptively slow ambling silhouettes in the fading light, fresh cloven tracks in the mud. Faint path naturally follows the higher ground between the marshes on the right, a short drop off on the left into a small outlet off the main river wrapping around mounds of earth standing guard. Larger holes in the bank echoes from deeper chambers, mudderings from wild or things glanced across through trees on the other side of this small finger of water. To white horns. bob up and down atop the large dark had been grazing on new grass, a mangy bison matted patches of gritty browns and charcoal, a glimpse of sleek amber fur beneath. He moves deeper into the meadow, clumps of shaggy old winter coat caught in the willows wave like prayer flags behind him. The first touch of spring wakes the sense of smell, even before new growth is seen. Moist, earthy aroma mingles with wet rock creation lives and breathes into and around me. Branches weave across the little brook that flows out of the pond. Another dam water trickles and rivulets around the edges pours in from the north then out from the south to rejoin the Snake River. Snowmelt races over the feet of the mountains filling the river to the top of the banks right now. Tributaries weave into higher ground grass and wildflowers wave in the breeze. I hike over to the main river Cross various side channels the beavers dig mud shoots troughs, partially filled with water, slides for quick escape if any predators should come. And easy access to drag tree trunks back to den and dam. Step between some Aspen and start a small herd of elk. They nimbly leap and bound over the grass an almost silent ballet. A faint crack have branches in the copse, and then quiet as they melt into the twilight and settle down again to enjoy their spring banquet. Cathy Schwartz 07:42 Over a little rise, I stumble upon a deeper beaver shoot. A large chunk of bark looks like it’s floating in the trough of water. Draw closer it’s the body of a beaver gently rocking back and forth. It’s been there for a while even predators aren’t taking this bait. A half chewed tree trunk towers over the old fellow like a monument, signed and engraved, already. Died working, chomping away, Beavers Bliss! Maybe not such a bad way for a beaver to go. I hike down a little bank look over the rim, stumble upon another tiny pond set in an earthen teacup sculpted round and round a group of bare limbed pines. I’m eye level with the top of the muddy bank. The tips of waves ripple close to my nose. This is such a magical viewpoint as if I’m underwater with my head poking up looking out over this dark mirror. A rare Vantage a beavers perspective. Water gently laps at the shadowy trees sloshing at this muddy brim. A tiny den across from here a younger family. Then movement. A dark head trailed by an arrow of light on rippling waves. Silently she swims back and forth along this Homefront. As if sensing mypresence, draws near, then firms slap a paddle on pond, a splash of droplets rain over my head. Fair warning, swims back towards the den and all is silent. I take heed, quietly move up and out. Thankful for this gift this peek into the wonder of a beavers world. A hike back over to the bigger pond. a rise of ground far north of the main family den ,far enough away that I won’t be disturbing this larger colony. Find a high ledge. Lay down mats set out my hot tea chocolate graham crackers, binoculars. This will be a first watching a family of beaver by the light of a lunar eclipse Swan has gone maybe tucked into another channel maybe with her mate. A few ducks paddle by.Then a pair of Canadian Geese circle overhead gliding elegantly down, down, down, in a dance together. Swish softly skim the surface a subtle turn, beak to beak heads arch hearts exposed, chests softly touch and drift apart. Soft honkings between them. quiet conversations. Which marshy grass to nibble where to sleep. Maybe even affectionate, good night’s. Cathy Schwartz 10:39 Oh how time wears down love’s bright illusions. This fragile flesh and bone, we now dance in their place. A mystery, the one who now moves and sways with me. I push back from the nearness of him. So Real. Till my fingertips barely touch the dream. Yearn again. Reach out past imaginations and feel myself pulled back into a safe embrace. Somehow, each time we draw a little closer, soulmate to mine and in between the harmony and discord, a bit of magic after all. So I’ll touch my heart with my fingertips and toss this last of my anger into the night. Cathy Schwartz 11:43 Transformation appears in the pond mirror, images dissolve work begins. Silently the the head of a small beaver appears at the tip of a branch, then slips around the den. Next a huge beaver heaves himself up out of the pond, waddles onto the grassy shore sits upright, rests back on his paddle like a chair and begins grooming his fat belly. Reminds me of a vintage old 50s greaser guy. Head held high claws like a comb slicked back oily fur from his proud face, a lick and a promise. Only things missing. White sleeveless tee shirt and a can of beer. Stretches up an arm, paw reaches high for a last scratch in an armpit. Leans back on his flat paddle tail, then keeps on tipping. His arms begin to flail wildly, his paws grasp at the air. A slow bum overhead tumble that lands with a big splash into the water. Makin me laugh. Then two ears and a snout pop up and he’s calmly sliding through the pond weaving side to side. Oh yeah, I’m cool. Let’s see you try that one. Another beaver swiftly passes him by with a branch in her mouth. ignores him, not impressed. Must be his mate, beavers being monogamous. Not the first time for that particular pond trick. No time for his antics. It’s spring. Litter of kits are on their way, or are already here. Got to get the nursery finished. She drags the branch up onto the den pat’s it down with mud. As he lazily belly surfs around another lap before starting his nightshift. Quackery above. A small raft of ducks swooped down to the pond angling past the big family den to where a colony of beavers seemed to be wrestling a larger trunk into place on a side channel. A shriek of high beaver whistles, a clatter of quacks, flapping of wings as the team of ducks, take brief flight out of harm’s way and then drift down into another cove. Liquid swirl of dark blues mingle with their white feathers soft through to blacks rumor and happy contentment quiet good to be away from all those bustling, babbling busy beavers Cathy Schwartz 14:15Look up. Eastern skies first moonlit glow rising out of the dark brim of the horizon. Twilight faintly lingers, stars sprinkled. Look down into the dome reflected, all of this topsy turvy. sight diminishes sound attuned now that I’m settled in for the night, less fidgeting, no more wrestling of my pack. Wind has picked up warmth to its touch right now. pine needles sigh, grass bends. Soft chomping scratch clicking, iron enamel teeth chiseling into all those wooden rings. Chewing back, back through time past each year marked down down into the first sapling ring. Then sound of greenwood bending tearing, a sudden cracking, branch breaking slow falling, a tree thinned from a tightly grouped cluster, by these wood hewers, forest tenders, and marshland makers. A faint click tick ,rhythm of teeth mingles with a whisper of murmuring, hammering singsong over the water. From where these obsessive compulsive night loggers work. Wish I knew that tune. Time for tea, a shifting of food from hand to mouth reprop my pack and my back. The pair of geese are sheltered along willows nearby. And suddenly, feathers flutter like the soft beat of a hand on an Indian drum. Throaty mutterings whisper unseen threat lurks. They paddle rise lift with a soft swish swish up overhead. Circle round twice, scouting for the danger. Tetons behind them so bright that moonlight paints their markings clearly, black and white etchings against dark sky. Then round they swoop, moon behind them. Now dark silhouettes against lighter sky. Nothing’s black out here. Only shades of shadow. Slowly, gently down they float again over the pond. Veer back then skim to another willowy shelter, soft honkings together. All this safe at last and they slip back into the night. Cathy Schwartz 17:10 At the moon’s zenith the lunar eclipse begins, the beaver den imprints like a woodcut engraved in ink, stamped in water. Clearer now as the bright moonlight fades in crescent segments first dark shadows than soft orange glow that deepens into a blood red tint. And slowly, a soft blue edge faintly pulses on the lower crescent. Crags and craters take shape. So much texture that can be seen without binoculars. And with them.. amazing patterns reveal. This is what the real moon looks like. But this dim moon scene with my naked eye is it the essence, the moon’s purpose. Moon shaped by words sung or roared into this universe on fourth day or 4 billionth, since its first beginning pulses with the light of the sun in the night. It has no light of its own. Dances around the earth. And so the sun marking seasons, drawing deep waters to and fro, yet holds no water of its own. The real moon…no less real for the illusions of projects. Maybe like love, ourselves a mystery. Rumors of some wonder beyond the self of clay and craters. Our path and purpose some hidden, some revealed most we never even guess. Yet sometimes find them revealed in the heart of another. Amazing this Full Moon it’s elusive tug and pull. It’s like that draws us close enough together to bless us with a kiss. I put the binoculars away. I’m missing the reflection of everything in the water. The Tetons, wavering two moons than a beaver swims in the sky between the stars and the moons and through the Tetons. This constant flickering dancing of textures patterns swirling together pictures painted into focus for an instant then bluring with the touch of a breeze. I wait. And watch and listen. The pond has become silent. Beaver chewing has stopped. Maybe I’m not the only one who is quietly watching and delighting in the soft blush of this moon. Cathy Schwartz 19:55 A faint crescent of silver begins to glow the edge of the sphere. Hopes promise. Light now returning in the dark. A last glance back. Soft, low crooning of geese. The sound of beaver chewing. Familiar whispers fill this night again. Round that family Den. Time for me to headback to my own home. I stand and gaze down at a faint ripple of light. Night reflections warp on the pond. As a dark oval shape appears close to the shore. A beaver snout suddenly tips up arcs then dives long round body breaks the surface , shiny paddle smacks the pond with a crack. A fountain of water erupts. I’ve been beaver slapped. She slaps again just because, it’s her pond. Then swims back towards the den. Where the golden Moon’s reflection swells with the waters motion. Beaver silently glides through the ring of halos. The waning Eclipse bounces up and down like a big bubble fish. She dives smacks that moon hard with her paddle the sphere shatters into hundreds of sparkling minnows light swims out towards me, then flips in the shoal circles together. Transformed I glance from reflexion to bright moon above this bright Beavers Moon of mine. Cathy Schwartz 21:51 I rise up gather my pack. Glad to have been here tonight. Time alone time apart. Wilderness gleaning thoughts and emotions as I make my way back home. To vows so honestly promised, so easily broken. So hard to renew. Are these also conflicting desires self, his and mine. Love imagine and love lived into being. A breaking, a rebuilding over and over again. Dreams pieced together with broken branches, forgiveness like mud pressed and overall a mystery how it holds together. Our little den a wonder this wild crazy enchantment that’s grown up around us. I reach the edge of the pond a few steps along the bank a beaver slap echoes again across the water. Good night. I sigh back with a remembrance of those closing vows.. till death do us part.. that last good night comes too soon to me and mine…We enter in with a breath and a sigh. That place where all illusions fade. Our names revealed in a smile soulmates soulheart… when we’re drawn into the mystery where the Maker of Love finally makes us real. Head for the tree house looking back to old promises hopeful lovers us and looking forward, to a kiss for that sleeper who waits in the moonlight
00:04 Sun goes up, sun goes down, wind blows round and round the earth, day in, day out an endless circle of repetition that has somehow dulled my senses. And I am in a Solomon’s slump. Vanity of vanities all is vanity. Futility, this vapor, this breath of mine, the seemingly futile efforts I make that all come so quickly to a …dead end. Nothing new under the sun or stars either for that matter, especially me who feels older than sin this morning as I struggle into my backpack and hit the trail before daylight. Weariness has settled deep down into this body and the bones of my soul. All the sameness of tasks rolling the boulder uphill an inch to have it roll back down again into its rut. So right now like the hero or the Princess Bride, feeling mostly dead, and in need of a miracle cure. Up up up the Paintbrush Canyon Trail, I go in search of my Ecclesiastical remedy… wild flowers for this weary soul. My quest racing sun and wind round and round and round again, for just a glimpse of the most elusive of all, my precious Alpine flowers, the tiniest ephemeral wildflowers ..only found in the holy grail made of stones tucked in the highest mountain passes… overflowing with a rainbow of blossoms that bloom for just the blink of an eye. And if seen, their enchantment has the power to pour joy over an old soul like mine, and weariness fades in the blessing of that little bit of heaven.
02:04 I am plotting not striding sleepwalking the easy part of this eight mile pilgrimage up to the top of Paintbrush Divide this darkest time before dawn, waiting, trusting looking for peace in these Vigils. this first Hour of the day. Entering this wilderness feels like stepping into a poem. And when I quiet myself to listen, the repetition of ancient verse swirls around this hopeful heart of mine.. sighs on wind sings in streams, rhythm beats through root and stone and season after season…at each recited cadence old.. mysteries deep and new unfold ..beckoning…further up and further in. Granite, quiksilver stones starlight, mirage of snow, glimmers on steep canyon walls, shadows form ever changing images on the jagged rock. Creation in motion, a kaleidoscope that twists and turns…weaves molecules physics and chemistry, into mystery, that evoke beauty, and beauty that soothes the ache of time. Soft tumble of waterfalls then harsh clatter stone vibrations echo down the opposite cliff face. The power of that noise. Rock giants shrugging. And this tenacious holds as stone on stone shakes loose with a roar and in this wild place, I shrug off my steadfast hold too on the me i scrutinized so carefully. Voice released free to speak aloud. takes flight I am chattering like a magpie to my God. Why did?… How come? What if… I wish.. then God nudges ..Hey you …look up there… And I do.. as a falling star shoots over the peak. Trailing lights sizzles and fades. I laugh. These intersections of blessings. It only took a pause, looking out and up instead of in and there right in front of me. Signs and wonders, reminders of grace all around me all the time. Love made new again, and yet again.
04:27 Recinch my pack as I walk, stumble over a root and then stop. Ambient starlight fingers across the trail, a shadow slowly waddles onto the path. A porcupine silhouette illuminated black quills slicked back snick together clickety clack warnings with each swaying step. Stay back. His head bobs side to side in tune to his stride. An old punk rocker …piercings of pale flowers dangle from his barbs.. silently he melts back into the dark brush. I step over a few pale blossoms left behind. Now slowly waddling along in my own rhythm and stride, and wonder if my prickles shine in this moonlight. On up, past the lacy ferns, fragrant Balsam pine still in shadow ,then I step into a glade and find myself knee high in a sunburst of yellow blossoms with brown button faces, tall mature Mules Ears. Sunflowers that boldly soak in the first Dawn’s light and glow brightly on either side of the trail. lazily rocking to and fro shining fingers of morning light through the trees, while other flowers sleep in the shade until the day’s warmth finally wakes them and shy wildflower faces, turn up to the sun for a morning kiss.
05:58 Up a switchback, and by a little trickle over some rocks Columbines are dancing in their fancy frocks, whites, pinks and yellows. A pause, to savor these old friends, their delicate petals unfurled, graceful gowns in the mist shimmering dewdrops on leaves, days of fairies and enchantments remembered, shared with curious little daughters poring over old picture books and poems of the flower fairies, then imploring me to go search the woods and streams with them, to find the wild flower fairies who left behind a trail mysterious clues for us to follow. A spiderweb shivering with glistening gems “Look at the diamonds!.. The fairy folk must be dancing just ahead of us.” Childlike hearts, never doubting and here these pixies are again and here I am with my children in my heart, and a trail of fairy dust left behind. I tuck this moment into the pocket of my raggedy old soul cloak. Then venture on up the switchbacks entering this canyon ambling along sunlight filters down from the rosy tips of the peaks. Gold melts across the canyon walls, and a palette of color leapfrogs up the mountain. Older summer blooms doze and sway in the valley while the first wildflowers of spring race melting snow up the mountain peaks. A rest at a waterfall, refilling my water bottle, heavenly blue and heart pink Forget -Me-Nots on their willowy stems, bouquets of true love’s promises, lushly, sway back and forth. Blossoms held out to me. Five tiny petals spread wide open to heaven, with five tinier petals still, nestled bound a dot of sunlight, flower fingers open to receive sun and rain, open flowers offering back, blue sky pink of dawn, a gift ..And sitting here, I find my arms wrapped tightly round me, heart closed and protected. I begin to open my arms wide, unclench my fist spread my five finger petals hold my face up to the sky. Open my heart again. Open to receive open to trust again. In True Love’s promises..
08:48 Round a boulder, a glimpse of purple Harebells. Mine to give another name, long ago. These my little Snowbells, delicate dangling tulip domes, one atop each thin stem these brave-hearts that push up through the snow before winters last tempests finish raging. First spring blossoms ,ringing a peal.. “Grow seeds grow… Seek life ..Wake up, Come play…sun and rain are here this day.” These song bringers …marching ahead up the summer mountainsides ..lavender petals breaking ground in white ..standing guard till other wildflowers join in. Then finally, tolling out Autumn’s last peals, declaring the beauty and color of life given as one by one the flowers fade and winter snowflakes dance and twirl drifting to a lullaby, as Snowbells ring out loud and clear. “Sweet Dreams till Spring is here.” Before they too, sleep, bye and bye. I trek faster. Sun is rising higher hurrying now on my quest to find the little Alpine flowers, maybe they are still snow bound. Or maybe they have bloomed already with their wild abandon and now lay hidden buried under stone and soil. From this hot mid summer’s heat pressing down on me. Seed promises for another time another quest. Hope whispers up and up.. on into the high country. I reach the top of the switchbacks below Holly Lake. Cliffs covered in mossy banks, streams of glittering ribbons..tendril over and under a ring of fiery Indian paintbrush, tall bushy plumes, hot blooded colors, Scarlet orange, yellows and white ablaze. Downed trees build fortresses, moats pool across the trail, jumping back and forth over the streams, I catch my boot on a rock, slip, roll, and fall on my pack at a little waterfalls edge. crawl under the rocky overhang behind the spray of mist and find I’m looking through a prism of light. Everything shimmers like a rainbow. Shake myself off, roll back onto the trail the world comes back into focus. Then I crawl back again behind the splashes of water. Droplets zing into the air color sparkles, wilderness bling. I realize my lips, always held tightly in place, have slowly relaxed into a smile. How long has it been since my lips curled up instead of down all on their own, escaping from my control. A smile not to please another but welling up from my Soul Self. The me that was first thought of and then came to be. The me with the name of love’s own mystery… that I’m still growing into. I sigh and pick up my pack and head on up the trail.
12:11 I reach Holly Lake. A savored snack in the sun. Waxy yellow buttercups huddle tightly around the roots of my cushion…a gnarly stunted pine. This small alpine lake, a patch of clear cold deep blue green, waves are free of winter. Except for two little white icebergs like crystal ducks, bobbing up and down together, drifting round and round shore to shore, paddled along by the wind. Patches of color come into focus. time is so short, snow is yielding as sun pummels from above and seedlings nudge from below. New wildflowers sprout lavishly. I dare not tread on any bit of mud, for fear of trampling these hopes of spring defying winter. In the midst of a snowfield, stepping over a muddy moose print. A vase that holds a blooming crocus,satin white petals puffed open tinge of faint blue edges like clouds in the sky. I look up as real clouds now gather. Brief light summer rain drifts over me. Grace for upturned flowers and grace for this weathered old face.
13:37 Final two miles of steep talus switchbacks before the High Pass Paintbrush Divide..10,720 feet snowfields like stepping stones scattered over this last northeast slope. Long striding bootprints engraved in ice sloping up ahead. Choice do I monkey up over rocks, or walk across this shorter frozen stretch. Sun is beating down, then across the canyon dust explodes off a vertical shaft tumble of rock fall. Choice made. Take the quick route, follow the bootprints. A Breath. A prayer. A step into the etched prints on the ice. Poke hiking sticks carefully precariously balancing, gliding along the straight stretch in a drunken weave..Breath. Prayer Step glance down down down into this rocky chasm my illusion of invincibility vanishes. I’m feeling afraid. I chant out loud. Breath, Prayer, Step. Life so fragile, all taken for granted when I feel safe. But the truth always remains the same. A gift of breath given, a Prayer heard, Faith strengthens for another Step. Whether I am aware or not. Reaching above 10,000. Altitude squeezes getting a headrush, skin tingles, rubbing shoulders with my not so invincible self. Breath. Prayer Step. Refocus on the footprints finally reach the last step wide hop onto the talus. It shifts and wiggles I scramble clumsily onto a bigger rock above. Lay back shaking yammering a multitude of Thank yous. Look up and find I met the cairn that marks the final turn in the switchbacks near the end of the quest. Anticipation expectation. Old Soul hoping for the gift of Alpine flowers.
15:48 I take the last steps up over the final rise and drop onto the divide. Look out over the broken granite sculpted into this holy grail. The rim of this cup drops away into a haze of clouds. And here in front of me. The chalice is filled. Color intoxicating as wine. Delicate shapes bubbling out of cracks and crevices and I drink it in deeply. This gift of my Alpine flowers and enchantment spring wildflowers transformed into miniatures. peeking out between jagged rocks blossoms woven over and under as if they sprout from the stones themselves. Prussian blues magentas, vermillion, violets, an ancient tapestry deep and rich, each petal a jewel, tiniest shapes, lace and frill I carefully step from one bare stone to another with prisms of light sprouting in between up and over. Stop look down into the tiny faces replicas of the canyon flowers. Reach the furthest outcropping and lay down on a large boulder at the rim’s edge. Roll over on this lofty bed and soak in this poetry of color. Tiny shaped brilliance, each like a word etched onto my heart, breathing life into my soul again. How do they grow so perfectly? Rain pours. Seeds burrow down root further into scarce soil. Hail pelts. Petals tucked beneath sharp stone. Fierce winds whip. Blooms hug tightly to this highest place on the mountain. Ice and Snow bury. Impossible. Miraculous . These spring promises that flourish for the blink of an eye. These wildest wild flowers, rainbows in the high country. The wind nudges a little tea some chocolate before I go. Scoot to the boulders edge haze clearing feet dangle over this deep vastness. Look over the expanse below and feel tiny as these Alpine flowers beside me. Stand up. Turn slowly round, this body tired but heart sighs, satisfied, content. Tuck this moment into the pocket of my old soul cloak. Carefully stone step my way back home. In a last dance with these wildflower blessings, soaking in this little bit of Heaven.