Winter Turns the Tide by Sara Wright

This winter has been most challenging on every level.

 I am exhausted, emotionally and physically. Most of my hair has turned gray. I have become an old woman who needs to be in touch with her limitations.

 On December 31st I broke my foot at three in the morning when a horrible crash awakened me to a blocked front door. I shoveled pure ice for an hour. Frantic with anxiety, I didn’t even realize that I had broken my foot until the crisis was over and the door could be opened again.

Initially, I believed I had one woman and two men who would help me with snow removal this winter but all three backed out for one reason or another. My trust was misplaced. (Human betrayal/racism have dogged me ever since I moved here almost 40 years ago. It has only been recently that I recognize that this problem is part of a larger story that is more about others than me.)

When help isn’t available – well – there’s nothing to do but to go on alone and that’s what I did. I have two little Chihuahuas who can’t go outdoors until they have paths to get through the snow. This means that regardless of the severity of the storm I need to snowshoe…The night I broke my foot I had already been out four times keeping the way open.

 We were being buried by a winter storm.

When I broke a second bone a month later while shoveling ice again I was beyond distraught. A kindly woman who I barely knew became a fierce advocate for me – the first genuine advocate I have ever had in all the years I have lived here. She called upon others to help me find two young men who promised to do the shoveling that I can no longer do. Snowshoeing those paths is all that’s left, and I think I can do that much. I hope.

This winter of ice – freeze thaw – always with ice at the beginning and/or end of every rain/snow storm has made walking so dangerous that even with spikes it is not safe. Never in forty years have we had this much rain all winter long – rain that turns to ice – then snow – then more freezing rain.

Never have I been so housebound.

 The changing weather made it profoundly real on a practical level that I must sell the house because I can no longer take care of myself here.

Soul, spirit, and body have finally been re-united as I make this decision seek ‘home’ elsewhere.

I am shocked to realize how ready I am to leave…

I came to these mountains to experience woodland peace, to engage with wild animals as a naturalist and to develop into the courageous woman I have become – one whose integrity stands before her. I was fortunate. For a while I had peace, wild animals, and land I loved…

 Gradually my feelings began to shift with the changes that were underway … As the Spirit of the Forest began to recede I felt the loss keenly. The logging machine was destroying our woods. My little patch of land became sandwiched in between land that has been brutally logged or senselessly maimed by my nearest neighbor. The animals and birds lost their habitat; most have disappeared. Road noise, gunning, motorcycles, traffic, speed of any kind has become the norm. It is no longer possible to walk on my road. Most recently the mountain behind me swarms with ‘recreationists’ who use the trails they cut through the land as their playground. Curiously, a year ago I thought I might stay, not because these changes weren’t happening but because I thought I had a reason to… but this belief turned out to be illusion, thankfully.

 As the final veil fell away, I was almost free.

Strangely, it was the dead that still held me. My beloved brother was buried below the house and I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind…But last fall I had a series of dreams that informed me that my little brother was no longer here; that he now lived in the very forest that has become my refuge, a place some distance from here that I still love fiercely. Silence, biodiversity – large intact trees, a healthy understory, mosses and lichen, a plethora of ground covers, a winding river, bears and other animals, birds and beavers all befriend me here, offering solace, peace, companionship and love. In one of the dreams my brother has become this whole green forest and he wears an animal skin. That my little brother is free, that he is finally at peace has set me free too. Oh, the joy and the relief. I can let go! No matter where I find home I can always return to my refuge because this forest is protected for perpetuity.

I have a multitude of unknown challenges ahead of me, but because I am flowing with the river to the sea, I believe I will be able to make this transition. As difficult as winter has been I can also feel gratitude because I have finally been able to make this decision.

 Letting go allows me to embrace the old woman in myself, the one with limitations. I make the choice to love her, to advocate for her, just as my fierce and caring friend did for me.

BIO: Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: Aging, General

Tags: , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Very sad story. I hope you’re feeling better and more hopeful this morning. I don’t encounter ice and storms here in the L.A. Basin, but I bet everyone encounters undependable people. Are you going to move to a friendlier climate? Good luck and bright blessings.

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  2. I’m so glad you have found peace and relief in being able to make the decision to move. I especially love your last paragraph – “Letting go allows me to embrace the old woman in myself, the one with limitations. I make the choice to love her, to advocate for her, just as my fierce and caring friend did for me.”Honoring our connection to nature also means honoring our bodies and their fragility as well as their power, celebrating that we are all embodied beings whose physical being is always changing. I hope you find the perfect home that will nurture and inspire you!

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  3. Thanks Carolyn – this is a difficult journey – growing old.

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  4. Sara, I have such recognition and empathy for what you endured. As I read I remembered. I too felt the isolation, challenges and fear of winter weather that you describe, as well as the betrayal you mentioned. I asked a friend of mine for more than two decades to drive me home from the hospital after I had surgery for a hysterectomy and her reply was “can’t you tough it out and drive yourself home.” Another I asked to look in on my brain-injured husband, who she knew for years, when I was in the hospital and she couldn’t manage it. These weren’t cases of racism, but more ones of selfishness, woman’s inhumanity to woman. However, the “gift” in these events, as well as my isolation where I was living, were the catalysts that motivated me to make a change and that change has been wonderful. What seemed like stabs in my heart turned out to be just what I needed to tackle a move to another state with milder winters and supportive friends I could count on. And once I made the decision to move, I recognize also that flowing like a river you mentioned. Everything easily fell into place as if Her Divine Hand was helping me along my new journey.

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    • Oh I do appreciate this response so much – can feel the empathy – betrayal of course can occur anywhere but I have had my share of it here – that “tough it out attitude” revolts me – I find myself hoping that the person in question will discover how much that attitude doesn’t work in times of need the hard way! And yes, as hard as it is to leave my little cabin and land I know I have to go – right now it’s hard because nothing has come together but I remind myself as a couple of friends have told me from elsewhere – “ something will come together” – it’s hard to trust when you’re hanging by a thread – my beloved dogs are such comfort and they help more than I can say. I need friends – hope to move near one that has been a friend for 40 years – we’ll see. BTW women’s inhumanity to women seems more evident than ever – or maybe this is my imagination? Don’ know.

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  5. Hi Sara. Greetings from New Hampshire. As you follow that call to a new sacred space I would love to meet you. Connecting to soul sisters is so precious. I’m in Southern NH at the moment. If you are in the Portsmouth area let me know.

    With all my heart I wish you strength and a renewed sense of adventure as you add another experience to your life!

    Blessed be,
    Sandra

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  6. Thank you – I couldn’t comment yesterday, maybe I can today – I am in the mountains of western maine – too far away, I am afraid.

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