Emily Articulated: Journal entry from a weekend in the woods

By Emily Erickson
Reader Columnist

Today was a day dedicated to moving my body, of putting one dusty boot in front of the other in an effort to get somewhere — a somewhere I had yet to be. It was a day to feel the strain of backpack straps pressing into my collar bones, as quiet reminders that a bit of discomfort is an essential part of most types of progress.

Emily Erickson.

Today was about honing in my opinions on the best kind of huckleberry, considering the nuances of a floral burst that coats the tongue versus a tart pang prone to ringing in the little pockets between my cheeks and my jaw bones. 

And just this day, time could be gauged in colors, watching the blooms of purple and pink incrementally snake across my fingertips — a perfect match to the berry stain blossoming on my lips.

Today, we let the morning slip into afternoon, the steady cadence of our small party’s four sets of two legs only disrupted by the jolts and pauses of the group’s two sets of four legs. Our heavy breaths and contented sighs were accompanied by moments of time-passing humor, with a “would you rather” game prompting rumination on whether we’d choose a  lifetime with muffins for hands or hotdogs for legs. “There’s no right or wrong answer, just a life with the answer you choose.”

Today was a day to let my mind explore, to play inside the tributaries of life’s possibilities. Like, would we cook the rice and beans or the potato stew when we made our camp; also, who will I be in five years’ time? Will I still like the same things, or is there a stone unturned, an unknown passion with which I’ll fall hopelessly in love?

Today, we walked on, with the dirt of the trails transforming to scree fields, their broken pieces of stone paying tribute to the towering peaks they had once also been. When we broached the saddle of the pass, my first thought was about the appropriateness of the term “saddle”; I had a flickering image in my mind, on our descent from the scree fields back into dirt, of the stirrup upon which we had yet to place our feet.

Emily Erickson at Wanless Lake in the Cabinet Mountains. Photo by Danielle Tholl.

Today was an effort to get me here: on this rock, overlooking this lake, at this break in time from the weight of the everyday world. And I can’t help but think that the beauty of the scene around me could have been painted, but only by a person with a propensity for dreaming — a dreamer who exchanged her palette of bright, bold colors for a smattering of soft, sweet pastels. She surely dipped her brush in a warm yellow-gold, all just to trace the tops of the trees and the edges of the clouds with her gentle glow. Maybe, just for fun, she splattered the rest across the dark blue water, simply to see her flecks dance in time with the waves.

Today was a day dedicated to both moving forward and being still — to be saturated with the gratitude that can only come from small problems and big mountains. Because, for some reason and for no reason at all, I’ve been granted this gift — a life of such privilege that I have the opportunity to seek refuge among the trees, to create quiet along the water’s edge and to spend time contemplating the absolute silly absurdity of a life lived with muffins for hands.

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