chocolate, camaraderie, & companionship

I’m finally back to daily walks with the dogs in the woods after a brief but significant break in the typically balanced flow of our days together. Life has been very full. After weeks of eating outside my routine, of consuming food for comfort and convenience other than in concert with my own nourishing awareness, I was delighted to come back to a favorite this week. It is simply one frozen banana, sliced and creamed in a food processor with a heaping tablespoon of organic baking cocoa.

I sometimes add just a tad of half and half, but it honestly doesn’t need it. There is something magical about how a frozen banana can become something so perfectly creamy. Sometimes I mix in a tablespoon of cocoa nibs and/or raisins. Chocolate as superfood. It’s all good. It’s incredibly delicious and satisfying. It’s one of the many reminders that desire can be a very good companion to my body indeed. Making this for myself, I realize that full and fun still needs to include the space where such desires can be seen.

I noticed a change in the dogs after the weeks of altered routine. They seemed even more of a team than usual.

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Yogi literally stayed on top of Nora, nudging her into romp and play along the trail in the woods. If Nora veered off, Yogi followed. If Yogi disappeared as he has been doing with more frequency, then Nora stayed close as if to say, ‘Don’t worry, he’ll be back.’ There has been a sense of companionship between them that I’m noticing for the first time. They are separate and they are one. And my relationship to them is as a unit in this context. They, together, become my one companion, waxing and waning within the energetic orbit I emit. I never once feel alone when I am in the woods with them, even if I can’t see them, even when I know they have taken off to elude the attachment of the leash that signals an inevitable return home. I think, this is love. It is not a perfect relationship. I feel a consistency and commitment to transcend the moments of panic and fear that can grip me when I lose sight of them. I am willing to look at my need to control, to let go and trust.

As I walked this week, the word camaraderie kept coming to me, evoked by the warm feelings from a week spent with a dear friends learning how to dye fabric with natural dyes, total immersion into a creative endeavor with like minded-souls who thought this was as much fun as I did. It was wonderful camaraderie. Then to come home to prepare for a retreat/reunion weekend with college friends. We have recently started coming together once a year, a ritual, and this particular visit was a spectacular flow of easy and fun, all dog loving, nature loving, family loving, life loving, even rummikub loving women who have moved through the past thirty-seven years into a way of being together that feels like the best kind of camaraderie. Our bond has became even stronger for it. I typically don’t like photos of myself, but in this see only the ease I felt in their presence. It’s the way I feel in the woods.

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Camaraderie feels different from companionship and I’ve struggled to discern the difference. Camaraderie is a transitory experience that is experienced in the moment, when the energies of many are flowing on the same current for a finite period of time. Companionship feels more like a 1:1 relationship that tends to be more ethereal, relying more on a perception of presence than the actual physical presence of another. When I am deep in the woods with both dogs off leash, we are moving together in a camaraderie of movement, of communion with what is there, and with each other in the most natural feeling of ways, free and untethered and fully trusting in the joy of the moment. We rarely lose sight of one another. But I had come to dread the moment of putting them back on leash. I used to think this was the death of the camaraderie, that when they were on leash, none of us would have fun anymore. I finally realized that going back on leash simply changed the relationship from one of camaraderie to one of companionship for me. It wasn’t better or worse. Just a little different.

Now if they take off to elude the leash, I can switch to companionship mode, go to our ritual meeting place, sit on my favorite boulder, and open my heart to where they might be in love. They will always come to me in this place. Always.