Alone With Your Drum
Walking the final miles to Cape Flattery was all the rose and thorn you'd expect with nearly three years of walking coming to a conclusion. My emotions were as tender as my feet. No. My emotions were my feet as final miles, laced with gravel, scuffed under me.
It was rumored to be so, but I was still surprised when I got to the Cape and the crashing ocean was three stories down cupping in and out of the cliffs. Untouchable. In the morning I will move around this wall of stone because otherwise tonight the thought of not touching the water would steal my sleep. Tomorrow I will walk into the waves. Tomorrow I will rise and walk into the ocean with the sun rising on CrowDog. Today though, together with a few friends we drink the bubbling glasses of wine and I pour an ounce over CrowDog as he leans against the protective coral of fence that keeps up from falling into the rock and ocean below. CrowDog is just staring at the ocean silent as a stick. CrowDog still looks strong, ready, perhaps a trace disappointed even; as if I had not dreamed a journey big enough for his metal shoulders, as if I had not taken in the width and stability of his frame, or mine, and I kept the sun off his cordova nylon skin through three years of sun only to now let him dry rot away in some tired closet. "Why stop," he asked simply without moving, without mouth, without looking at me. All my inner protests are weak; not protests at all. Looking out at the same lighthouse island, past the same crockery of stone far off, garnished in waves and softened by the coming sleet storm, I too begin to wonder through the sweet flavored plastic smile of my cup. CrowDog carries the last full journal so I don't have to tell him about the book I need to write. No need to preach to the choir. CrowDog whispers so only I can hear,"Then what?" Any answer I give short of walking on I know would have no pulse, no possibility of being believed so I just listen to my half circle of friends as today's miles drain from my muscles. BaseCamp Kirin (changed her name from Betty), Lisa from Thermopolis WY, Stan (a new friend), Polly from the Makah tribe witness the last hour of the walk. They soften the sound of the ocean. They soften the tide roaring in my head. The sound of hundreds of coastal birds looking for a mate stills nothing. Sleet begins to pelt onto my hat and then pushes us back into the woods. From no one direction the settlement calls out. The domesticated yawn of predictable days and weeks already makes requests from far away in a voice I had forgotten but never missed... from far off on the other side of the woods it stretches out. In a couple of days I will be in north central America surrounded by boxes overstuffed and spilling socks and sleeping bags, shirts and parka's, cook sets and trail worn high-lighted maps . I will find your address and write you a letter with missing words because my mind will be running too fast. I will call your radio station and tell you the world isn't flat and you won't believe me. On my bedroll in a tent set up in an apartment in MN. beside a perfectly good bed, walk-in closet filled with my gear, and my own bathroom I will lie on the perfectly flat floor with no pine cones knuckling my shoulders and hear my heart complain. There will be no smell of earth on my hands and I will not hear the rain tapping fingers over my head, or punch out at mice in my sleep. Nothing will be wet in the morning.
Tomorrow I will start looking at pictures to show you, and begin the careful task of remembering...so very afraid I'll forget.