Ask me for an early memory and, instantly, I run barefoot through Indiana summer clover. I know bees will sting if I interrupt their bumbling in sweet purple, but I feel free.
Skip ahead a few years. See my family smiling at each other outside that musty pop-up camper? Maybe our stomachs are growling on that damp picnic bench while the smell of bacon argues for dominance with the smell of pancakes and syrup. Maybe we are about to scale high Michigan sand dunes, or perhaps we’re thrusting arms through orange life jackets before stepping gingerly into Dad’s little, silver boat. Maybe our hands are pocketed because we’re surrounded by cold, Colorado mountains, yet nestled under raging sunset.
Each particle of air in my childhood involving nature remains clean. Simple. Full of contented peace. In my heart, huge diamonds will always float, rocked to silent glisten by lake tops. There, warm sun tans but rarely burns. There, my family is always happy. There, we never hurt each other.
Move ahead, again. See me, the harried mother with mismatched husband? Those are my two kids, and we three have escaped, weary, to Tyler State Park without him for another camping weekend. Yep, it’s just us. Over there’s my big, denim hammock, and those are violets waiting shyly under my folks’ old pop-up. Inside lay sleepy books that read themselves while we laugh in connected inner tubes, knowing that, later, crickets will carol though the sweet chocolate night. In that place, the worst that could possibly happen involved a campfire that failed to draw raccoons to our toasty marshmallows.
Is it any surprise that now, when my eyebrows furrow, I walk away into woods? There, birds don’t tell lies, and wildflowers raise open faces voluntarily to God. Leaves high overhead whisper genuflection, and I am quieted. I believe nature can never harm me.
So, when I die, sift my ashes over sequestered pine needles. That’s where I always want to be, anyway. I’ll be fine.