“Why do I feel a sense of longing – as if I am trying to find where I belong?”
She replied –
“It is a far memory you seek, it is more than a longing. It is a journey into your spirit history, the core of your existence.”
Winds blow at my back as I walk with purpose across frozen snow and ice. Snowshoes strapped to my feet, ice cleats crunching on the tundra, I breathe deeply into the icy air. It’s before 7am, and the sun is just beginning to push his way through snow-laden clouds. Ice pilgrims such as myself stretch out in a lazy line, following the shoreline of Lake Superior towards the frozen sea caves. For the first time in five years, the caves and lake have frozen, leaving giant stalactites of frozen water clinging to the red sandstone.
The ice pops beneath my feet, shifting as invisible waves move beneath the thick. Raw beauty stretches for miles across frozen water towards Canada, and the sun begins to kiss a distant island. Cracks splay out, like thin strands in a spiders web, and my heart stops beating momentarily while fresh splinters move around my feet.
There are few people on the ice this early in the morning. The silence is familiar, and the tall cliffs, frozen in winter’s grasp, beckon. The ice is cold, and the air colder still. My hands, frequently out of my thick gloves, are red and sore, as if icy fingers clench my own. My shadow remains invisible; the sun hasn’t risen high enough in the gray-blue sky to caste my likeness on the ground. In these moments, I am truly alone.
The winds create an eerie whistle, licking the ice as they move steadily through the caves. I find myself standing in a burnt red cavern where whirls of different shades of browns and reds caress the billion year old sandstone. The ice, once brilliant shades of blue water, hangs boldly along the walls of the cliff, reflecting bare sandstone into the abyss. Small trees cling to the edge, their roots embracing tiny patches of soil while icicles as long as my arms hang from their thin branches.
My face is cold, my bare skin frozen as solid as the ice beneath my feet. I stand amongst giants of ice and rock and breathe slowly. In. Out. In. Out. My heart beats its familiar rhythm, racing through my veins in anticipation. The sun begins to caste small shadows from the top of the cliff, and the ice at my feet reflects blues and yellows and browns. My chapped lips begin to curl upwards, as if aware of what is to come. In a moment of brilliance, my spirit rushes back to me, bringing with it bits of snow and ice and sand and rock. A collision, filled with the frozen tundra spread before me, fills my entire being, and an audible sigh joins the whistling wind. The wild spirits of land and water rejoice, and the ancient souls long since gone, release themselves into me.
I am home.
© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.