Where do you go when you can’t go anywhere?
I am a nature girl by nature; my inner Finn thrills to fresh air, damp soil, petrichor. I don’t even mind getting rained on. I love wind and thunder. I like getting my hands dirty, kneeling in the garden, picking out dead bits to help new shoots grow. I crave rocks and trees, thrill to a coast, have been known to snort water from my palm just to feel afterward like I’d been swimming in a lake.
I have several places in nature to which I return, again and again, in my mind’s eye, with my mind’s ears, my mind’s nose, my mind’s hands.
A deserted apple orchard on the Michigan shore, the weeds thick between the gnarled trunks, the branches unpruned and hanging low. Clouds overhead, the ground pocked with puddles, the trees in bloom like Kurosawa’s peaches, an enchanted tree straight out of Grimm’s.
A stretch of sand in Oaxaca, on the Pacific coast far below the border, embracing a bay where the wild waves broke and not long ago took the life of a woman my age. My Mexican friends said the Shark King, el Rey Tiburón, lived at the bottom of those impossibly blue waters. A pack of stray dogs, scattered from their homes by the hurricane, roamed the beach to scavenge scraps of fish and tortillas. The sun beating down. The shadows not shady enough. The magic feeling that no one will ever find me here.
The grassy promontory of Seattle’s Volunteer Park, the red brick water tower like a laird’s castle. Views for days over Puget Sound through a granite ring, its own standing stone, facing west to funnel all the setting sun. The glass panes of the conservatory that protect miniature biomes of rainforest and desert. Walking in to smell the sweet air, the heat, the fragrance of new green like Calyx.
Emiliano’s estate down the hill from Cortona, olive groves gone a bit awry as they’re meant to, golden hay tamped down between their trunks, flaming poppy petals sparking here and there in the long grass. An eagle circling high overhead in the blinding sun, the gold dome of the monastery further below on the hill. The swimming pool filled with cold clear water, and the enormous fig tree beside it, roots slowly breaking the dry stone wall.
I have dozens more like this; I return to them again and again in the idle moment, or as I drift to sleep, or in the small hours when all the worry wakes me and I yearn to fetch sleep back to my bed. I return everywhere in my mind, flexing my senses, reconstructing scenes that soothe and free, trying to see just how real I can make it feel.