The sun warms my skin beneath my sweater and jeans. When I look out upon the vista before me I’m filled with a sense of wonder and beauty I can hardly describe. That feels beyond description. There’s no one thing, no line or shape or shade that defines this body as beautiful but my heart swells with love and wonder all the same.
Nearly every day, since early December, I’ve walked the circumference of Lake Hollingsworth in my hometown and I can certainly say now that this lake has bewitched me. I’ve seen many of her faces, though I think I’ll never know them all, and felt her spirit brush up upon mine. I’ve seen her joyful splashing, her violent swells, her warm embrace and her cold regards when I’ve left her alone for too long. Blues, greens, brown, grey, glittering blinding white. I watched sunbeams cut through heavy clouds to caress her skin like a lover. I’ve seen her scales flash in the light when she’s feeling particularly flirty. She is a marvel.
I still wonder how this became my life. Once there was a time when I cursed my homeland, calling it’s wilds ugly, crowded, unclean. I hated the tall shapeless pines, the dense scrub brush of palmetto plants, the multitude of offensive insects and the oppressive, smothering, wet heat. I long for mountains, for Birch trees, for classic European forests and wild. I had no love for swamps, palms, ancient lizards and hanging moss.
I was an indoors person, a techno pagan, if outside was so great why have our ancestors spent millennia perfecting inside?
But slowly, over time, my opinion began to shift and I finally saw the potential for beauty in my home. I still left rarely, only enjoyed the outdoors infrequently and only in certain conditions, but the way had been opened. Years passed.
I’m not certain of the specific decision that led me to my lake, a constellation of influences, ideas and time converged until I had the idea to walk around this lake daily to improve my health, pad my step numbers.
She gave me much more than that. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I find myself beyond the grips of my ever-present depression. My good days are more frequent, my bad days far more tolerable. The Sun, the air, the exercise, the lake, a better drug than any doctor could give me. I look forward now every morning to greeting her and her many residents.
Hungry ducks, cacophony of crows, majestic Falcons, bomb diving swallows, and more varieties of water fowl than I can count. Fish, amphibians, insects, turtles, squirrels, and of course the many varieties of people who visit and call this lake home.
I long to know more about her history, the other peoples to have called her home, even if I can never know the names by which they called her.
I remember the first time I “saw” her spirit, a great lizard coiled at the bottom of the lake shaped like a Chinese water dragon. Later she looked instead like a great hulking alligator snoozing in the deep. But even these forms she defies, refusing to coalesce into anything so solid, instead demanding I accept her as she is, fluid, changing, mobile yet contained. Liminal.
A woman, dedicated to gods of wilds and woods, Mountains and rocks, has found her mistress of water.