Navigating Sans I-Phone

Before I bought this house in June, I’d spent a number of winter and spring evenings wandering around its exterior. The house was uninhabited then, and I very much wanted to know where the moon rose on this piece of land. Would the moon be concealed by trees or streetlights, or would Lady Moon sail up in her luminescent beauty?

Nearly twenty years ago, I became a sugarmaker about the same time I became a new mother – the work of both often accomplished in the wee night hours. In those years, I began to know Lady Moon in all her phases – round and crescent, gibbous, waxing and lessening. This house I began to love, in part, because of the rising moon view.

Last night, late, the moon was my companion as I read a book I’d found in the library stacks, Juliane Koepcke’s story of surviving a plane crash in the Amazon when she was 17. Her parents, an ornithologist and biologist, had taught her to know and love the jungle – and Koepcke credits both knowledge and love with her ten-day trek out of the jungle and into survival.

In the moonlight, I lay awake thinking of Koepcke, and how her story, in an odd way, mirrors that of the poor woodcutter who gave his children bread. Hansel and Gretel crumbled the bread behind them, in a vain attempt to find their way out of the forest and away from the wicked witch. Metaphorically, there it is again: the jungle or forest all around us. So many times, I’ve wondered what I’m giving my children to find their way home, when my daughters will be lost. I’m too much of a pragmatist to know they won’t be mired in thickets, in their time. (Just not too thorny, please. Just not too darkly.)

Foolishly, I’d never considered love a navigation tool.

I open my eyes, and it’s immediately clear to me what has happened: I was in a plane crash and am now in the middle of the jungle. I will never forget the image I saw when I opened my eyes: the crowns of the jungle giants suffused with golden light, which makes everything glow green in many shades…. This sight will remain burned into my memory for all time, like a painting…. I don’t feel fear, but a boundless feeling abandonment.

– Juliane Kopecke, When I Fell From the Sky 


Gabriela’s rock garden, created on a summery day



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