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Friday, April 10, 2015

Go Find A Gator

It’s 3:00 AM and rather than getting that vital shut eye, here I am plugging away at this keyboard.  It’s frustrating to be in a land where my brain won’t shut off.  Instead of staring at the ceiling, I may as well put the whirling thought cloud to work.  Memories seem to be their brightest before the dawn.

A few months back I was battling to keep the smile on my face.  A situational cloud of depression loomed over my head.  For the most part I’ve kept it at bay.  At times it tries to sneak back up on me.  Blowing that dark spot away from my head requires some effort. The solution all comes back to what made me happy as a kid.

Growing up in Upstate New York, it never occurred to me how incredibly fortunate I was.  Sure my family loved me.  Sure my school system was exemplary for a small town public school (my graduating class was 28 kids).  Sure my friends then remain my friends today.  What I really think about the most is my woods.  My Grandfather’s ashes are spread there, as I hope someday mine will be as well.  It is a peaceful, wonderful place that brings me comfort even as I close my eyes to take myself back there.

At my son’s age, I was always outside.  There were no cell phones to distract me and it didn’t matter what season it was.  The creek that runs through my family’s property held the gates to my own, personal Narnia.  My dog Ninja and I would travel into this mystical land and stay out there exploring for hours, the only sound was the stomping of our adventurous feet and the animals that lived in our special world.

In the Spring, the birds yelled their warning signals through the canopy of deciduous trees as we happily trudged through the sprawling field above our house.  We giddily found the wild strawberries that weaved their way along our path.  The smell of that open air welcomed us like an old friend.

In the Winter my brother and I would happily work our legs through the knee deep snow to adventure out on a blessed snow day.  We’d find the blanketed tree limbs that hung low enough and pull the avalanche of  snowy fun down on our heads.  It didn’t matter that our toes were turning to ice.  The adventure kept us moving forward.

In the Summer, the hot air would help us drift off down to the Hermit’s place where the creek’s bend might just be deep enough to offer relief from the humid days.  The quiet days when I climbed to the top of that fallen tree and silently watched as my father entered the fishing hole and happily cast his line are like a moving picture in my head.  Even the scenery of that place has changed, yet it remains the same in my memories.

In the Fall we’d bundle up on those bright, crisp days to crunch the falling leaves beneath our feet.  We’d climb to the top of that hill that opens to a vast clearing to capture the views of the colorful, changing trees.  Breathing in all of that beauty made everything calm and peaceful in my happy, young world.

Now I’m no longer that kid loving my Narnia because it’s almost 1500 miles away.  The truth is, I’ve had to create my Narnia wherever we’ve moved throughout this crazy military wife life.  The doors to that outdoor mystical land have been found in the waterfalls on Oahu.  They were floating on down Crystal River searching for Manatees.  They were on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park.  They were walking over the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny day.  They were on the hikes with my Aunt and Uncle throughout the country.  Now they are in my searches for the gators down here in the bayou.

When a dark cloud tries its level best to cover your sunny day, you have to fight to keep it away.  My smile almost instantly returns when I find a space outside that can bring back the whimsy of my childhood Narnia.  When you have the same trouble take my advice, get over it and go find a gator.   There is no reason that we can’t find the happiness that we found as children.  It’s out there to discover, it just takes a little more will power.

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