Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Letting go... like the salmon

In our neck of the woods, fall is characterized by typical autumn scenes: leaves turning bright red, kids picking apples, hiking on crunchy leaves. But then there are the not-so standard experiences, like hiking on crunchy leaves while stepping on rotting salmon, a smell of which I cannot describe to you. The other day, I took the kids down to Diobsud Creek, and as I set my foot down to step on the river rocks, I realized I was just about to step on a big dead salmon blooming with white mold. I jumped very, very high into the air and let out a very, very loud scream. Eva got really scared by this, and I felt guilty about making her into a prissy girl who screams and jumps onto a chair when she sees a mouse (or a rotting salmon). That day, you couldn't take a step without smooshing a salmon underfoot, even quite a ways from the creek (after an eagle dropped one, or a bear or raccoon pulled one away from shore).  The salmon that are not quite dead, but almost, are the hardest ones to run into. They weakly lie on their sides, sluggishly opening and closing their mouths, moving their fins slightly. Every now and then they jerk up their heads and splash, as if they are remembering the days of their youth, when they fought against strong currents and traveled thousands of miles to find their birthplace, so they could spawn and die there.

I wonder: do they suffer? Do they freak out hearing the cries of bald eagles and seagulls waiting to feast on their bodies as their lives slowly, slowly drain away? Or are they resigned to their ancient fate of becoming food and fertilizer, maybe even relieved that their hard work is finally over?

This salmon is still alive, although already quite rotten.  She paddled up to were I sat, locking eyes with mine. It was eery and beautiful, and I cried a little.  It was like she was trying to give me a message: "Stop struggling so much.  Just go with the flow."
This one was arranged like a still life painting - in a very dry riverbed, and looking quite fresh.
And this one is one of the specimen that stinks up the air.  You do not want to step on it, believe me.
We've been loving this fall.  The sun has been shining her heart out for two straight weeks, and our days are gloriously filled with picking apples from a friend's orchard, and kiwis from our own kiwi plants.  They are the small, non-fuzzy ones, where you eat the skin and all.  They are like sweet little explosions of flavor and Vitamin C in your mouth, and I let the kids eat as many as they want.  We also love going for walks through the woods to the various rivers and creeks in the neighborhood.  It helps to have little fairies accompanying us, in the form of Eva and her friend Vija, who hangs out with us a lot.  Sometimes, when I watch them frolic in the mossy woods, with the sun lighting their blond hair like halos, I wonder if this is real.  This life of ours, centered on nature, love, friendship, the freedom to explore and just be.  Am I really sitting in the sun by the river, with these beautiful children busily collecting leaves and rocks, while I am knitting in the sunshine?  Why, yes, it's real, and I am holding on to these precious moments of grace, to store them up and file them away in my heart for emergencies, like a bad PMS day, or a day when the effort of home schooling and keeping the house from falling apart threatens to pull me down.

Ahem... is that Eve in the garden of Eden, tempting us with an apple?

Our kiwis.

They like to hold hands when they walk through the woods.
Unless Eva decides she wants to run ahead...

I leave you with some images from our fall:
Robin Hood, visiting us at Lukas' birthday party to play with the kids...
A flaming tree, capturing my heart...
More goat milk soap being made at my house and sold in my Etsy store... (in case you are looking for Christmas presents, ahem).
Kai and Lukas rough housing on the rope swing under the Big Leaf Maple tree.


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