Sunday, October 28, 2012

notes from an expedition

Journal excerpts. (Some disorganized rambling.)

Milford Sound, NZ

Sitting in a cafe (the only establishment in "town") in Milford Sound with Eric and Amy. Milford Sound might be the most amazing thing I've ever seen. It's like Cape Breton, except instead of the forested headlands, it's towering snow-capped mountains with rainforests clinging to their lower halves and clouds ringing their summits. And then, of course, there's the sea. It's dead calm. There are fjords like I've always wanted to go to in Norway. There are waterfalls coming off of every cliff face, everywhere. Moss grows on everything. Everything, everywhere, is wet and green and bursting with life from every crevice.

We took a boat trip around the fjord, and it was completely spectacular. The boat took us right up to waterfalls so that we could look up at their height and be sprayed by their mist. The coolness on my face was a blessing. One fall had rainbows reflecting through it and off the seawater, and we were surrounded by glowing, rainbow-coloured mist. Dense rainforests grew miraculously out of cliffs with no topsoil, just moss. We saw huge swaths of bare cliffs where "tree avalanches" had scraped the rockface clean.

And then there were penguins. Yellow-crested penguins, hopping about on the rocks. They were surprisingly small. There were fur seals, too, warming up on the rocks. They looked smaller and more refined than seals I've seen in Canada. One was sleeping curled in a circle like my dog does when she's especially exhausted. He must have had a hard swim.

Our world is such a wonder. It is so full of so many spectacular things. It's up to us to just enjoy them. To meet people, be changed by them, share experiences with them, love them and let them love us back.

I wish I could make my brain remember everything.

Wanaka, NZ

After much discussion and drama, I've sent Amy and Eric off to do a gruelling 18km, 1300m elevation gain hike. I didn't really want to go. I'm so stiff from our foggy march up to Key Summit near Milford Sound the other day. I just couldn't imagine forcing my limbs up a mountainside today. It's eighteen kilometres one way.

So now I'm sitting on a park bench at the beach, looking out at Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains beyond. After I finish my coffee, I'm going to wander around town for a while. There's something easy and relaxing about wandering aimlessly with no one waiting for you or wishing they could be doing something else. There's something gratifying about pleasing no one. Worrying about no one.

But only for a time, because happiness only really works properly when it's shared. It might be the main reason we're all still here, on earth, slogging it out side-by-side. Who cares if you have an amazing experience if you can never share it with another soul?

One last thing before I wander: a mother duck just wam by with a row of tiny ducklings. They look like they just hatched yesterday. She keeps turning around and quacking instructions to them, gathering up her tiny, chirping hatchlings and keeping them close by. It is so lovely to be in a place where it's springtime. Just last week, fall was giving way to winter, once and for all, and I wasn't ready to release the fairer seasons yet. I'm never ready for the long settling-in of our coldest, bleakest months. And now I've been blessed enough to skip straight ahead to spring, just for a little while.

By the lakeside, I said a prayer of thanks to God for this precious gift.

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