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South | North

Visions from the Past

Whitetop in the RainI time travel at night.  In my dreams, people visit me from times that I have often forgotten about.  These dreams dominate my thoughts for the next day or so, as I turn over the period in my life they reflect.  I seldom think too deeply about the past in my waking hours--these days are too focused on the present and the future.  It's hard not to think ahead as a parent, especially one that has chosen homeschooling.

The other night, I had such a visit from a person that I worked with over a Summer and Fall in 2003.  I had forgotten this person entirely for a number of years, but my subconscious remembered perfectly.  How vivid it was, how real it seemed.  I can hardly shake it and it has me thinking about the path my life has taken, how far I have come from the days of Ranger Brandy.  I often say that various other people are living my life--Mike jokes about this, too.  This person is probably one of them doing so, working as a hotshot fire fighter.  That Summer, I had considered such a challenge to be a possibility, though my 110 lb. frame couldn't really manage the 50 lb. pack needed to do the work.  Now, it probably wouldn't be such a stretch.

It is hard not feel a pang of sadness and longing over it all, a feeling of something lost that I guess I never really had.  The past has a way of seeming sunnier when we look back on it, too.  What a wild, glorious, confusing time it was.  I knew such joy and sorrow in that short span.  Those were the heydays of Summer jobs in National Forests, I think.  Volunteering still paid a small stipend and the Forest Service had a little extra funds to buy us things like brass belt buckles.  My job for a concessionaire in the forest was nearly full-time.  When it came time to use that experience to apply for full-time jobs, though, they just weren't there.  And so I made maps for a little while and then came home to stay.

I kept extensive journals during that Summer, all the way to late Winter when Mike and I began dating and became very serious.  I also took many photos during that time, using Advantix film, thoroughly documenting the tremendous shifts that occured that Summer and the months that followed.  There were many things I didn't remember at all.  It's been a lot to turn over and it still feels very private to me.  It has me thinking how we came from there to here.  Those people eleven years ago really had no idea what they were getting into.  I suppose we are still who we were then, though more evolved, working further on the things that drove us then.

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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