forest angel

For the third morning in a row, I have brought Nora to run off leash in a beautiful conservation area in my town. It is 6:30 in the morning. Rounding the corner of this now familiar trail, I’m greeted by the forest angel herself,


asking me, ‘Where have you been?’  It is not a casual question. Where have I been indeed!  “In a really stuck place”, I reply as I watch Nora double back and race towards me full speed.

It is another beautiful summer morning heading into the middle of July. There was a storm last night, and the early morning air is heavy with the dampness that still pervades. I love this time of morning on the trail, sun just coming up, breathing in the smell of damp earth, the sound of rushing water, and the sight of bright sunlight pushing itself through dense foliage, all offering nourishment for the promising day ahead. I am so grateful to be feeling this promise again after what seems like months of holding my breath.  Not that my house has sold and I can actually move on from this place I think I am stuck in. Quite the contrary. After several months now, the excited anticipation of waiting for an offer that I can accept seems to be gone and I have let go of hope that it will come back. I have finally accepted that this is what it is right now. In the absence of hope, there is faith, and I feel the angst in wondering if faith alone is enough to sustain.

I was fortunate enough to be invited for a day kayaking and hiking in Vermont with a new friend this past week. We brought Nora because it was Fourth of July and I couldn’t leave her home alone all day. I had no idea how it would go. She has never really been off her leash. Not by design anyway. And she is a dog bred for wild abandon. I had been feeling the stress of this for awhile and so it was a gift to be able to spontaneously just unhook the leash in this otherwise deserted section of the Green Mountain National Forest and watch her go. In my fearful imaginings, she would take off after an animal and never look back. She would feel her freedom so keenly that she would remain elusively just out of reach and deaf to my calls to return. But these fearful imaginings co-exist with my knowing that we are already irrevocably bonded to each other and I’m not so surprised after all that she would choose to keep me in sight, running ahead, dashing into the woods and out again to dash full speed past us and into the woods again. She is running circles around her pack, moving, clearly and consistently in her own way, with her pack. I’m sure any animal trainer would have told me this would be how it would go. But obviously, I had to experience it for myself and all I can say is thank god for Nora, for leading me out of this stuck place I have been in and into a new source of nourishment that my body and soul needs as fuel for moving on…

Continuing down the trail I watch for how the light transforms all it touches. I see the long stretch of illuminated pulsing water in the brook as if a water snake, undulating over rocks just for the pleasure of it. I feel the womblike comfort of entering into a part of the forest where the light has yet to penetrate, silent and pregnant with stillness. I discover a new trail that leads up across a ridge and through new terrain for me. It feels good. It feels like enough. I think of my new home to be in the woods and of the freedom Nora is leading me to and I know now that this freedom is just a state of mind like anything else.

We can go home now and relax into our day. Transition is hard, but I am learning it doesn’t need to be painful or cause for suffering.  Nora is certainly helping me here as she finds her spot out in the shade by the back door, tethered once again, both nourished and spent from her morning romp,


while I find my way in the breezes sweeping through the house, settled for the moment into doing whatever work needs to be done.

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