Sunday, March 30, 2014

Granola Girl Nods in Approval (Part 4)

The early days of the Utah Writers' Project at Bear Lake held physical, as well as spiritual challenges for me, the frustrated writer and hiker. 

We spilled out of the USU vans at Tony Grove Lake for a choice of hikes. FINALLY! Today was the day to give those hiking boots a workout. Some of the writers with physical limitations would be walking/sitting around the lake, and the slightly adventurous would be taking a short hike in the surrounding area. I joined the advanced group who planned to hike up to another lake, have lunch, do a little writing, and return later in the afternoon. When we began hiking the White Pine Lake Trail, I somehow missed a cue from the faster-paced hikers, and was left behind with a straggling entourage of budding botanists. 

It was annoying to stop so frequently to get a closer look at a particular wildflower, and then to wait for the small group of women to come to consensus on its proper name. I found myself wanting to say after the third rather lengthy stop near a patch of little yellow flowers (seriously, what more need be said?) "Don't identify everything to death! Can't you just enjoy the moment? Just hike already!"

I was here for adventure, not a biology lesson. I was here for me, not for them. My impatience kept bubbling up, and I think it was because I felt guilty for not having remembered all of those botanical names that once rolled off my tongue as easily as the name of my fourth graders. 

"Penstemon. Indian paintbrush. Columbine. Douglas fir. Blue spruce." My biologist hiking partner had taught me well. 

That day I found my vocabulary reduced to "pretty, yellow flower," "delicate, white, lacy plant." I loved that Judee, one of the women who introduced me to Tai Chi, called some of the flowers "damn yellow composites." I figured that would work for just about anything: "Damn blue simple...damn white composite." Her friend Margaret even suggested simplifying further with "DF." Damn flower. Loved that; it fed my sarcastic mood that day. We three chuckled. I detected disapproval from the more serious of the group.

Finally, I pushed ahead to catch up with the hikers ahead of us, leaving the lallygaggers behind to identify to their hearts' content. I hiked, and I hiked hard, pausing from time to time to survey all that lay before me; the foliage, the boulders, the rising peaks. My lungs were straining with the exertion, but my heart was full, and my spirit stirred. The view took me back to another place and time.

Lone Peak Wilderness was the place, and the early eighties was the time. Back then, I was discovering meadows of wildflowers, and learning their names. I wasn't poring over a book. I had Sid with me. He dropped names, lots of names, on every hike. After awhile, a few of them stuck with me. 

I loved the Rocky Mountains, and everything in them. The mountains called to us, and we responded, seeking the solace to be found in them in evenings after our days at school, and on weekends for overnight trips. I felt at home when we left the valley behind. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by the pressures of living in the city, and the demands of being a teaching intern, I would drive to a higher elevation, leave my car behind, and head up a local canyon.  The solitude of the outdoors always calmed me.

Why did the mountains no longer call my name? Perhaps they did, but I no longer heard the promptings above the noise of the television, the music, and the chaos of my life. It was time to get quiet, and open myself up to the stillness and peace once more. I had forgotten how rejuvenating nature can be; how restorative. It wasn't that my name was no longer being whispered by the Rockies, it was that I was no longer listening. Ah, that was it. Once I became receptive, I could determine how to meet the needs of my family, while meeting those of my own. 

Jerry Fuhriman, a local artist, spoke to us one evening at Bear Lake. He was speaking of his paintings and comparing it to our writing, and how it's important when creating to know what to embrace, what to enhance, and what to relinquish. Inspired by his words, I adapted his lesson to suit my needs by writing this down in my journal: 

I need to learn what to embrace, what to enhance, and what to relinquish in my writing. And in my life. 

I could feel the Granola Girl peering over my shoulder in approval. I looked forward to the day that she and I would become one.


  1. Welcome home Granola Girl! I love Jerry's quote: "I need to learn what to embrace, what to enhance, and what to relinquish in my writing. And in my life. "
    I need to remember that, thanks.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I do feel like the Granola Girl has come to stay with me...these many years later. Twelve years since this was originally written. Thirty years since we were one. Wowza.


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