Beside my computer, on my desk, sits a small, framed photograph of a child wearing a blue and white seersucker dress with smocked bodice, embroidered pink flowers shirring the fabric bracketed by puffy sleeves. How is it possible that I remember the details of that dress, even though this picture—my only picture of it—was snapped in black and white!
Occasionally, when the stresses of everyday life seem too much to bear, I hold this image in the palm of my hand. I travel back in time to that makeshift bench of weathered boards beside the lake. I marvel, again, at the shaggy green of forested mountains stretching off to the horizon and rising steeply up on either side of the bay. I evoke the sweet smell of cedar. There—on my right—the Valhalla Range casts its self-portrait upon the surface of the water, brush-like strokes of emerald and jade reaching as far as the shallows near my feet. A pathway of shimmering sunlight on mirrored sky appears to beckon me towards a promising future.
Did I experience the solitude of nature, then, without being cognizant that I, like a golden eagle or a mountain goat, was an integral part of its weave? Perhaps I was simply watching minnows darting between the submerged planks of an unused boat launch. Or perhaps that particular moment in time was a defining one for me—the moment in which I began to grow aware of the vastness of the universe in contrast to my own small self. For whatever reason I was drawn there to sit, surely my soul was being fed and enriched.
Even today, this tranquil scene elicits a longing in me to protect and nurture the two-year old seated there, she who remains an intrinsic part of my identity.