The Silkiest Black

It’s a gray day at Fitton Green. The gravel roads on the way up were slippery as if covered in ice.

I walk down the trail listening-in as I pass a man talking to a group of children,“Always carry a map and pay attention to where you are going, if you talk too much you can lose track of where you are.” This strikes me as profound, possibly even the essence of how to get along as a human.

The hills are foggy, clouds moving across the ground in discreet formations. I pick a spot by some rocks to draw, wrap a blanket around my legs, sit down and make three small sketches of a group of trees. That’s all I’ve got today. I’m cold and the uphill trail calls to me as a source of warmth.

I pack up my things and walk up the hill to watch the fog, focused today after a long spell being distracted with a new love. Sitting in my studio, drawing a few sketches, getting lost in fantasy, realizing I want to be drawing…what can I do but yield and observe the mechanics of this hopeful vigil.

These urges are born from the deepest places in our bodies, the emptiest places in our hearts. Anyone who tells you you should learn to be happy alone instead of pining for love is talking too much.

What good is it to dress out tenderest desires in a sort of dunce cap when they could lead us to the kind of people we could actually share love with?

For now, I am enjoying this quiet mood and the ocher meadows—clouds obscuring the steep hills in varying grays that lift and slide away. It brings a sense of majesty, as if I am nowhere near civilization.

Then something white and brilliant catches my eye moving on the hillside. It is tipped dramatically in the silkiest black. It is the wing of a Northern Harrier. I watch mesmerized as it flies back and forth over the hillside low to the ground, his pale belly stark even in the subtle colors of fog. His wings so long he moves at the farthest edge of grace. A cloud blows in veiling his flight as he drifts to the far pines and disappears.

Once, I sat on the bench at Jackson-Frazier wetlands tearing myself up over whether to leave my boyfriend of the time. I watched a couple Harriers playing in the wind over the meadow. One glided low over me and I wanted to believe this was a message, that the friendliness of the universe had synced my schedule with the Harrier so I might be moved by his grace to have faith in this relationship.

The Harriers became my personal emblem of romantic love until I learned the males will mate with as many as five females at once which, at its essence, was the reason I was considering a break-up.

I decided Harriers would make a better emblem of wildness and peace for the soft way they fly over the wetland meadows and through the forests under the canopy. The boyfriend I left when I got so cold I longed to walk uphill.

This pining for a new man, I cherish as evidence I didn’t stay on the wrong trail just to avoid wearing the dunce cap. I will watch these new dreams build and crash—and every time I slip back into my own skin I will pick up my pack and hike quietly through the fog with sketches to make, a map of where my longings might take me.

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