Hawk Mountain

WO Hawk Mountain Art

We drive up the winding forest road to Hawk Mountain, and the kids begin to recognize the place. This hike begins high in the mountains and the car does most of the climbing, making it a bit easier for those kid-legs while still giving the spacious views. My ears pop. We pull into the parking lot, not surprised to see it full. This is the first warm weekend; you can see the hibernation from winter is over.

Louisa died four weeks ago. That fact hasn’t left my mind since.

I’m here in the wilderness today with this ache in my heart. I’m desperate to receive some beauty from this wild.

At the trailhead, Grant, six years old and with a knack for details and a steel trap memory, reminds us all where to go. This way first to go to the bathroom; that way next to find the trail. He and Renee, his four-year-old sister, each carry a trail map, numbering out the many options for our adventure. Griffin, now two, has gone from a baby-hiker to a little-kid-hiker in the six months since we were last here. This means that instead of being happy to travel in a carrier on my back, he now wants to walk on his own. And who am I to stop him? For this reason, though, it means that we can’t head down the River of Rocks trail, with all its boulder scrabbling and tough climbs. No, today we’ll have to stick to the more populated Lookout trail, with its places to pop through the tree line onto the crest of the mountain and see out over the valley.

The beauty of the lookout and the valley is unmistakable, evident, but seems just beyond our grasp. We are off to a rough start. Grant complains that it is hot. Renee says she is tired. Or hungry. Griffin is like a drunk and rowdy college kid, albeit a very short one. The trail is crowded. The peace I was hoping to find seems out of reach.

I am honored to share a special essay with the folks at Brain, Child magazine.  I love Brain, Child for the way that they treat mothers: for the very real, very three-dimensional, very unique beings that we are.  I first discovered Brain, Child when, years ago, my cousin sent me an photocopy of an essay from the magazine.  It reached me in those early years of parenting, and I’ve been hooked ever since.   I’m challenged again and again by the thoughtful work of Brain, Child magazine.

Keep reading “Hawk Mountain,” about hiking in the face of tragedy, in Brain, Child magazine. 

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6 thoughts on “Hawk Mountain

  1. I tried to leave a comment on the Brain,Child site but was unsuccessful. Here’s what I want to say:

    Thoughtful and beautiful and tender piece. Reading this essay changed my breathing – slowed me down. I am left contemplating some truths raised here: the way we “pretend we have tamed the wild,” the way in which the saddest events can leave us both “scarred and softened,” and the admirable way in which people struggle with loss. I am grateful to have read your words today.

  2. I just linked over from your essay on Brain, Child. A lovely, moving piece about the ways in which nature heals and teachers and provides solace. I especially love this line: “Now, this act of mothering in the face of death has me feeling slightly ghostlike, too. I am haunted by the guilt for how I’ve mishandled these lives.” What a heartbreaking way to be reminded that every moment with our children is precious…even when they’re driving us crazy. Thank you for sharing it and I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet cousin.

    1. Thanks, Andrea, for taking the time to read and comment. It’s a hard perspective to hold on to, but one I’m working on, for sure. We all are in need of extra gentleness and love, none more than the most important people in my life (probably especially when they are driving me crazy!) Thanks again, for your lovely words.

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