The Climb is Just the Climb

It’s almost a year since I climbed Dog Mountain and still it is vivid in my mind. I imagine right now, it’s cold on the mountain, and maybe even dotted with snow near the top. After all, it’s only March and the wind carries ice on its breath through and into April.

But there, in Oregon, the coastal air warms and rocks in ways that a Midwestern girl cannot begin to understand. And so I have only to imagine and remember and anticipate the next time, the next step after step, the steep breathless ascent until I faced the expanse on an open hillside with wildflowers at my back and strawberries under my tongue.

I am planning my next trip now. Israel, this summer, and if I can swing it right, I will have 10 days of a journey. You know I mean that in every sense of the word.

When I was a kid, my family traveled at least once every year and often to exotic locales. I was lucky, I was fortunate, I was pampered. I grew up with expectations, for better and for worse, and now it is the itch that fuels me.

I smell spring on the branches. Over the weekend, the children and I rounded the track, too tepid to step into the muddy paths of the wooded trails. “But I came here to hike,” Asher wailed.

Majority ruled. He jumped from tree stump to tree stump, bending back the tall scratchy wild grasses that have stood through the eminent snowfall.

Yesterday was his birthday. Seven years ago, a lifetime it seems. Boy were we all different. Two of the most important people in my life were not even here yet. It was a brutal winter day when Asher slipped into this world without a wail and I learned what it was to not have control.

A year and a half later, on a religious night in fall, Eliana showed me the power of women. That was when I realized I could climb a mountain with babies on my back or no one even around, just me in the sunshine and the brisk day and the ever-constant awakening.

When Shaya was born, in the full-on spring three years ago, I accepted what was to be and embraced what I had learned was love. So my marriage would end. So my children would not have the idyllic upbringing I had hoped for. So my path would be lit by solitary light and pockets of sparkling stars.

How many times I have been given the opportunity to try something new, to step in a new direction, to learn from the minute just past. I’m lucky. I’m rich with experience and filled to overflowing with so many kinds of love.

This life hasn’t turned out at all like I would have expected but it surprises me every day how wonderful and even better it is than I could have imagined on any traditional path. Happy Birthday Asher – many, many more, happy, healthy, full of wisdom and surrounded by enduring love.


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