Climb Every Mountain

Warning: long post, somewhat rambling!

Time flies! There’s never enough time… Where did the time go?  Or, maybe, just maybe, there really is no such thing as time.  That’s what physicist Julian Barbour thinks.  Instead of time as a measure of change, Barbour sees each individual moment as a whole, complete and existing in its own right. He calls these moments “Nows.” And our lives are a succession of Nows.  There is only now.  Huh.  Go figure.  Now I begin to understand a conversation I had over ice cream a few months ago.  This post is about a succession of Nows over the past what I thought was time period called a decade.

When I turned 50 I announced that maybe, just maybe I had reached middle-age.  My plan was to surpass 100 and I felt that was a reasonable goal.  My true goal, which has not changed, is to stay young forever, however long that may be for me.  The decade since that announcement has been filled with highs and lows, as I suspect everyone’s life probably is between 50 and 60.  Both of our mothers died, a year apart, expected someday maybe, but still ever so painful when it comes, and so sad, still.  Something countless others can relate to.  We had two beautiful grand-babies born between those deaths, totaling five. Our heart hero grandson had surgeries and grew stronger, and “time” went on.  Suddenly, it seemed, all the grandchildren were in school, and our oldest grand-daughter entered high school. She’s now a nursing student, 3rd year – wow!

During most of those years, I worked, learned, and played with the most wonderful people.  My relationships with some are still strong and wonderful today.  Somewhere in those years, I was privileged to be invited to work with some extraordinary teachers to develop and implement learning adventures for students that were like no others; traveling to Alaska to volunteer at a remote Iditarod checkpoint, and a ranger-led backpacking expedition to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Both times students worked to raise funds, and studied and trained for the adventure.  Amazing can’t begin to describe this opportunity.

Dan and I went on some very exciting hunting trips in Saskatchewan.  There is nothing like 10 hours of sitting in a tree stand surrounded by Saskatchewan nature.  From the tiniest snowflake to the majestic whitetail bucks, I captured it all with my Canon and in my mind – the wildlife, the snow, the sunlight through the trees, the quiet like nothing at home.  And yes, one buck per hunt, most years, with my Browning lever action 7 mm-08 to take home to the freezer.  The best times were when Dan and I sat together in a stand, sometimes during a snowstorm, spending hours waiting for just the right snowflake to fall on our hat to “shoot”!  And, reviewing those pics over tea in the cabin that night.

We renovated our Salt Pond camp near the start of this decade. Camp Gramma evolved, I’m not sure how long we’ve done it. I’ve mentioned it before, and it deserves a post of its own, with pics.  Every Gramma should have the opportunity to spend her summers playing in the outdoors with her grandchildren.  Talk about joy!

I left the job I loved rather than compromise my integrity and go along with things I believed were wrong in 2013.  But every cloud does have a silver lining if you look or pursue it, and my job transition to my “beginnings” as an educator in early childhood allowed me to pursue a passion – nature and nature-based education.  A course taught by The Maine Master Naturalists opened my eyes and minds to the world around me in ways I never imagined.  This passion feeds me now, bringing me joy and comfort, and always an interest to pursue.

Dan and I found hiking during these years.  Our goal became to climb every mountain we found, or maybe that was Dan’s goal!  I like hiking.  Hike we did! At 55 I was the most fit I’d been in my life.  We climbed Katahdin, Mt. Washington, Cadillac, Big Spencer, and Blue Hill Mountain (over and over and …)  Climb every mountain you can while you can!  The view is always unique.  We went on crazy adventures to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro and go on a photo safari, and back country backpacking down and up the Grand Canyon with my sister and her husband.  At almost 58, I was the baby on that trip!

Then came what was to be a very strange year – 2015.  It certainly had its highs, beginning with that trip to the Grand Canyon in April, four big kids on a once in a lifetime adventure.  Another high was the naturalist course that I use the learning from every day as I find joy in the everyday.  And Camp Gramma that summer was sensational!  But a strange “series of unfortunate events” took place that year, big events for us, life-changers really.  First our oldest dachshund died.  He had truly been Dan’s faithful companion.  Shortly after losing Rocky, Dan nearly lost his boat and his life when his lobster boat filled with water and he raced “time” to run it aground before it sank.  Scary, something that stays with you, life-changing REALLY.  And then, 3 months later, August 17, 2015, we had a house fire.  No one was home.  From the outside our home looked as if nothing had been harmed.  In reality, the house would be gutted and rebuilt inside, and we would lose all of the contents, forty years of our life’s “stuff”.  Life-changing REALLY.  And then, while working to inventory all of our things, oversee the work at the house, and teach, I got sick – cancer crept in while I was otherwise occupied…  Weird year, that 2015.  Life-changing REALLY.  Some silver linings?  Always.  We winterized camp and lived in the most beautiful natural setting.  We adopted Ruby Jean the dachshund.  We deepened relationships with those close to us who understood that support is needed even if not asked for when life-changing is your NOW.

2016 was the year we learned about lung cancer.  And brought Dottie and Matilda, the Nigerian dwarf goats, into our lives.  It was the year I think that our 44 year relationship deepened and we reconnected with renewed and strengthened love as we stopped reeling from our life-changing events, all the while beginning to deal with cancer.  We’d gotten mighty comfortable in our roles over the years, if not taking each other for granted, then maybe taking life for granted, and then, we couldn’t anymore.  Life changed.  When cancer creeps in, so can fear.  But Dan,  my best friend, my true love, my partner in life since I was 15, has faced these new challenges with such courage and strength. Together, like we’ve done since we were teens, we’ll face this one together too.

2017 was the year we learned to live with lung cancer.  We’ve had a marvelous year, especially since I was able to stop working in May. (A silver lining?)   We gardened, enjoyed our annual trip to Spencer Pond Camps with all our children and grandchildren, played at Camp Gramma, loved our 3 little dachshunds and the “girls” Dottie and Matilda.    While Dan works, I do what I feel like doing!  And that’s okay with him.  I volunteer in my dear friend Kathy’s classroom, go on outings with my free-ranging sister and a friend, play cribbage with my son, go on walks with my daughter, read, or whatever I may feel up to doing.  This time of year there’s alway a basketball game to go to with four grands playing and Dan coaching.  Finding joy in the everyday every day.

And don’t forget!  Climb every mountain you can while you can.  The climb and the view are always unique.

Welcome 2018!  (If you even exist since you are a measure of “time”!)

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