Monday, October 20, 2008

My Emily Dickinson Walks

Having a bouncy young dog gets me out of my apartment three times a day for walks around the neighborhood. She's good like that, getting me my exercise. The downside is that I've been going far less often for longer hikes in the surrounding area. A few years ago, I would hike up Mount Norwottuck and Mount Holyoke regularly, in all kinds of weather and every season.

It's funny, though, all the different things I can get used to. I was blessed with a trip to New Zealand five years ago, and when I returned in March I was dismayed at the meager topography and the lack of altitude in Massachusetts. After a while that feeling faded and I became readjusted.

Now am becoming adjusted to the particular landscape of fading industrial town mixed with renewed artistic community, layered among the trees and houses and gardens that all make up Easthampton. I feel like Emily Dickinson, walking in the same small area every day but watching it closely for every change: the fence covered in grape vines progressing from soft spring leaves to fruits hidden beneath yellow foliage to bare vines that still dangle purple berries. Or the way Mount Tom changes color depending on the time of day, just like that cathedral Monet used to paint.

Now that it's still dark at the time of my dog's first walk, I can also watch the sun rise, "a ribbon at a time," just like Emily Dickinson. Even if your world is small-- a town, a block, a room-- there is life and death, and beauty and wonder to observe.

"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders." —Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother


  1. Coincidentally, I was watching an episode of "The Big Valley" while having dinner yesterday and a character mentioned having to "break in" a new saddle. And it occured to me how (oddly) some things are better when they're "broken". And I guess a heart is like that, too.

  2. Not to mention the horse itself, right? Horses have to be "broken."