A NEW YEAR, NEW SITE IDENTITY
There is a famous Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. She nests on Midway Island and has been tagged as the oldest known bird. She is my age, actually, and I love that she has endured so long. The albatross is a fascinating bird in that it spends most of its life at sea, not on land. Wisdom comes in to land each year to mate and nest and she has been tracked ever since her first banding. She is estimated to be about 68 now, the age I will be in a few weeks. Here is a link about her (and a photo): https://www.npr.org/2018/12/07/674481057/wisdom-the-albatross-worlds-oldest-wild-bird-lays-another-egg
I am fond of the story of Wisdom for many reasons, the least of which is her endurance. I, too, have endured, and face another year. After the recent years of displacement due to my treatment, I also feel I have been “at sea” and am still wondering where I can finally land and call a place my own. And, it is not lost on me that I have gained more wisdom as well as I age and wander. So, I decided to rename the blog site to match more closely where I am now. Nomadic Sprit fit (and still does), but the word “nomadic” has taken on new relevancy and possible overuse in the 21st Century.
There are many references to the “new nomads” in American culture, people giving up homes to travel and work from vehicles, to wander with backpacks and laptops as they earn a living (or don’t, just exploring). Or, more perversely, many older people forced to live as nomads in vehicles and recreational vehicles as they can no longer afford homes. The “spirit” of being a nomad seems to be changing when used in these contexts. There are also the increased waves of migration that really aren’t truly nomadic spirits as much as displaced people desperate to find safety until they can, if ever, return home. And, what is left of true nomadic cultures remains but they are at risk, too. In short, I have been a nomad less by choice than circumstance and I grow tired of the displacement as I grow older. I am not wandering even in the locales where I find myself living from time to time.
Wandering is still important to me but the means to do so have become too limited or even non-existent. The trials of the illness I have endured since late 2012 have also severely limited my energy and finances. This new year may be different for many reasons, I hope. I am in what they call a “durable” remission and have been for almost three years now although during that time I was constantly on chemotherapy. Now, as of the end of December 2018, I have been granted what the doctors call a “chemo holiday” in order to improve my quality of life without drugs. This is a big change and one that may boost my wandering energies again for the drug side effects were real and difficult at all times.
I also replaced my crooked, severely degenerative knee in September 2018 and that has made it possible for me to walk again! While I will not be being doing heavy duty hiking, I can at least walk and wander trails again. This is thrilling to me. In short, I am reclaiming myself bit by bit.
The new photo above was taken just a few weeks ago at Horsetail Falls, Oregon in the Columbia Gorge. It was time to update from the photo used before. I stood close enough to feel the mist of those falls falling on my cheeks and to inhale enough positive ions to feel greatly happy and firing on endorphins! It was a trip I needed, to see trees and rivers, because there are neither here where I live. There is a river and temporary running creeks but all are shallow and short-lived by season here in the high desert. There are trees, too, cottonwoods and occasional pines and the landscape supports a special tree, the pinion pine. They grow in specific environments but are usually out of my reach except in Lamoille Canyon or private hillsides driving into Elko. Lamoille Canyon was burned in a large wildfire in October, something that broke the hearts of all of us here. We will maybe get to return to the canyon in the spring but it has been off limits due to the fire damage and now the weather. Some of the pinion trees burned or destroyed will take many, many years to recover, possibly even 100 years for those completely burned down. Fire is the fear out here most the time from late spring into late fall as the winds and lightning strikes are always a threat.
A new year usually calls us to reflect on the previous year as it ends and to look forward. Looking back, I see a year that was very demanding of my psyche and soul. Learning the identity of my birth father and meeting new cousins in South Carolina was a big, big part of what I had to reflect on and am still processing. The death of a friend who had been close to me since I was 18, a friend with whom I believe we both did a lot of growing up as young women, died in early July. I miss being able to call her on the phone. The major surgery for my knee has been given me more time to heal and reflect on what further healing I can accomplish now with another “leg to stand on” after increasing immobility and pain had made my world much more limited and isolated.
After visiting with my children in December, a once a year event we manage in Portland, Oregon, I then traveled to South Carolina to be at a special event in my new family. I like them and I like the differences between here, in the dry, arid desert and there where there is so much green and wooded forests. I still don’t know where I will end up but the appeal of being embraced by my new cousins has given me much joy. I am a westerner through and through but maybe that’s not enough as I grow older and need more community support, too.
So, this post is not particularly eloquent or philosophical. It’s more an effort to reconnect, if possible, and to find out if there is any interest in this blog. Please let me know.
by Linda A Puffer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.