I started the morning hiking alone and decided to go into town on my own. As I walked across the parking lot at Unicoi gap, familiar face asked if I by chance needed a ride into town. Well I did! And I stunk. Oh believe me I reeked to high heaven. This was not glistening lady sweat. I’m sure there was a distinct well perhaps the word “stench” would be appropriate? I insisted we roll the windows down in the car! Laundry, shower, Facebook, groceries, checking on mail drops, sorting out my pack, planning my next few stops, yeah… after 2.5 very rugged miles of trail down off Blue Mountain to the gap, that takes up a good portion of the day!
Every now and then as an hiking along, I have to stop I just have a few words with a particular tree. This happened today with an incredible matriarch of the forest. She was clearly past her prime and in fact it was only her shell and her spirit that was supporting the life of others. I placed my left hand on her smooth solid, slightly damp bark – free trunk and I looked up up up at her weathered white form against a perfect blue sky. I swear from that one angle you could see her female form leaning forward as if she were a figurehead on an ancient sailing ship. I could see the curves of her strong thighs and hips, her belly rounded and rising to breasts and arms stretched forward. How long had she been there? What sights had she see in her lifetime? Her power and beauty are still so evident and made even more so by the scars revealed with the stripping away of her bark.
This will be me. This what I wish: to strip away my bark and show my scars.
Standing beside her, I took our photo and, as I looked at it, perhaps for the very first time … I actually believed I was beautiful.