The sun is still up at four am, but the birds are quiet. I just left the club and now Iâ€™m padding barefoot along the lakeside trail. When I reach the spot, my spot, where the trail intersects with a wildlife trail that goes down to the river I sit, cross-legged in the dirt, under a spindly spruce. Sometimes, if I sit here long enough, a great horned owl will swoop along the edge of the lake. My love of owls goes back to when I was a little kid riding along in the sled with my dad while he checked the trapline. There was an owl that flew the trail ahead of us twice, maybe three times. He said it only happened when I came along. In recent years, my relationship with owls has become more personal. This winter when I was doing a quest in a desert cave an owl came to visit me a couple times.
No such luck today though, so I resume my walking. The bottoms of my feet are covered, almost calloused, by spruce pitch. My toenails are painted bright red for work, marking me stripper-slut-goddess-whore if there were anyone here to see. But there isnâ€™t, so I strip naked and wade slowly into the lake. The cold takes my breath away. I squat in the shallow water, my toes digging into the bottom mud, and wait for my breath to come back. When it does I stand up and run to dry ground, laughing, spinning, getting dry in the cold morning air.
I am so in love with life.
Clothed again I run up the hill, then back down, then up again and Iâ€™m warm. The further I walk, the more the trail becomes veined with roots and I have to watch where Iâ€™m stepping. Soon I come to a little thicket of Devilâ€™s Club, my newest plant love. Iâ€™ve dug up some of her roots, which, I was glad to discover, grow into networks so that digging up one plant probably makes several more grow in its place. Despite my little harvest, I donâ€™t feel like I really know her well enough to use her, so I come here most days to sit and see what I can learn. She is covered in thorns, but she doesnâ€™t feel like other thorny plants to me. She feels like joy, bursting into bloom. Her stalks are woody and tough. I wonder what the thorns are for.
Back at the van I play ball with Bro until heâ€™s tired before I scrape the most exterior layer of stuff from the bottom of my feet and climb into bed. Tomorrow, which will really be this afternoon, Iâ€™ll take a five dollar shower at the Laundromat. Iâ€™ll scrub every last bit of mud and spruce pitch from my feet and touch up that red nail polish before I go to work and slip on my bright red eight inch stripper shoes.