Wild. Life.


Ditch diaries.  Year seven, week three.

One very wet week at the ditch.


last light rainbow


We ride up as a creek of creamy coffee colored waters rushes down the narrow trail.  The horses heads hunker low, manes dripping down long faces like faucets left ajar.  My hat collects and pools and dumps as I lean over the side of my horse, turning back to see that the packs are not slipping coming through the steep slope on slick footing and a wet back.


We awake to a dark morning.  Rain all night, white noise in the tent, and continuing.  Beneath the heavy clouds, a blanket of fog spreads in the valley below camp.  Silhouettes of the horses seen from the tent.  No more mountains.

Somewhere I hear a duck.  Maybe a distant coyote.  The small commuter planes stay away from the mountains this morning.  Otherwise, nothing but the sound of rain on the tent as I sit with a silent steaming cup of coffee held tight as if in prayer.


ditch diggers bgf getz



I read the word on a piece of newsprint crumbled to start the fire.  Old news, I don’t even know what the article was about, but I do remember the word.  I write it in my journal so I don’t forget.


The mountain sheds tears.

Wash me in a river of tears… Cleanse me of my past…Dip me in the river of rebirth and let me live again

Some days you wonder if you’ll ever see the sun shine, and if your boots will ever dry out.  Neither will happen today, I’m pretty sure of that.


wet bark


Before bed I peel off the wet socks.  I’m shocked to see brightly painted toe nails laughing back up at me.  Bright blue and green, each nail like a little planet earth.  I smile to think of my darling niece who spoils me (shouldn’t I be the one spoiling her?) and knows I secretly love those little lady like things, though they’re hard to find and live with under all this mud and muscle and layers of wet clothes.


I can’t keep track of the calories we’re consuming, and still we’re cold, tired and hungry.  Sometime in the middle of the night, Gunnar takes over the lower half of the sleeping bag.  I tuck in, wrap my legs around my husband’s to make room for the dog, reach down to pat his still wet fur.   He is shivering.


wet leaf


The spring runs again and there are puddles in the ditch where we have never seen them before and my rain pants are soaked to my waist before we even start work.

The next morning, a deep frost.  Snow on the Rio Grande Pyramid visible when the fog lifts.  It is colder, feels like early winter.  The first of turning leaves and the last of fading wildflowers, and that’s the end of our luscious little wild strawberries.


morning rain on turning leaves


Really, I’d like to get over the sadness.  It swells sometimes like a crashing wave, catching me unprepared, out of breath, as if I fell asleep at the beach and suddenly high tide moves in and I’m under it.  Walking helps.  Getting out there.  Listening to what you might say is nothing.  A woodpecker tapping at a dead tree.  The soft trickle of a little spring over moss covered rocks.  Snapping branches beneath my feet.

One of these days you’ll disappoint me or maybe I’ll say something to upset you.  Human nature.  I try to find the good in it.  I’d like to think we are evolving and see some signs that give me hope but until I’m sure, I think I’m better off… far away.  Out there.  Here.  Alone.

Maybe with my boys if they can put up with me.


fading flower


These are wild times.

I wouldn’t want to have missed this.  You know how many left, how many stayed away?  Afraid to see it.  Or maybe it spoiled their view.

It’s real and raw.  It’s dead, buried, burning.  It is wild.  It’s my mountain.  And I am so glad to be here with her, on her, enwrapped in her, entwined in her needless arms that still hold power and grace more than I will ever see a human have the ability to embrace.

Sister soldiers standing side by side.

Stick it out.  Here, with her. Stand by her.  My mountain.  This sad stage in her mighty cycle.  What if I didn’t lay witness to what she is going through?  Leave when the going gets tough and come back when it’s all ok again.

Abandoned in heart and soul.

It will never be the same.  Life doesn’t work that way.  Don’t fool yourself.

My intimate involvement matters to me, and somehow, I feel, to her.  What else can I do, like a mother with a sick child, but be there, by her side, strong and steady while she weeps.  Pat her sweaty brow until the fever breaks.  I know it will one day.


morning rain on white flower


I was looking forward to being home.  It’s what got me through rain, hail, snow, freezing weather, soaked boots, muddy gloves, and shovels that would not let go of the dirt.  Dreams of a hot bathtub, fluffy bed, solid walls, dry boots…

Well, we got home, but then all of a sudden, I wondered what the fuss was all about, leaving camp, being here. The hot water heater in the guest cabin we raided wasn’t working well enough to fill a tub, and a family of pack rats moved into our cabin during our absence.  When you’re talking a little one room cabin, 12 x 20, there’s not room enough for us all.  At four in the morning, we set traps, grabbed our sleeping bags, and went to sleep in a vacant guest cabin.  One advantage to our grave business we’re dealing with this year.


morning rain on turning leaves 2


We’re back down in the Little Cabin now.  The rats are still here, hiding behind the built in pantry.  I’ve had better days…

Today, I’m done with the rain.  For now, I’ve had enough.  How about moderation? What I want does not seem to matter. That’s OK.  I know this rain is good… only right now, all I really want to do is go down to the river, lie warm in the sun, and knit.  I don’t know how to knit, but today it sounds like a really good thing to do.


rio grande pyramid


I’m at home now with the hawk screeching in the wind and it’s the only music I care to hear. Wilds stirring in the brown waters of the river than washes body and soul of the land and me clear from the worries of yesterday.


A girlfriend travelling in Guatemala shared a photo of a handmade road side sign which translated to this: “It produces an immense sadness to think that nature speaks, while mankind does not listen.”

Listen.  The earth speaks in wild whispers.  The trees talk.  Even the ones that have already died.  Maybe they have ghosts. Their stories told in streams of sap now hard and cold on flaking bark.  What stories they share of changing times and battles fought and lost and tales of two leggeds with bright eyes that remain blind to the woods around them.  Listen.  There are stories to hear, beauty to behold, wisdom to absorb, lessons to learn. If we care to listen.


gunnar east of the divide


3 thoughts on “Wild. Life.

  1. Gin, Bob and Forrest

    Such contrast, from dryness to soaking wet, with water running off the barren hillsides. At least it’s green up where you were, and that was a magnificent photo of the moose, the last post.

    The old saying is “feast or famine”. Whatever, the Earth needs the water, and the new growth coming does too. Next year I imagine the hills dies will be green again, just missing many tress. Time heals all, your hearts too.

    I love you all, Ginny

    On Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM, GinGetz.com

  2. I’m chuckling, remembering weeks of rain, with little respite, guiding 14 or more teenagers through the wilderness….waking kids to zip 2 bags together so that one kid with a wet bag, freezing in the night, could squeeze in with 2 other kids for warmth (and safety). Lighting stoves and cooking outside with water running down off my hood….and the ping-ping-ping of gentle rain on the pot lids. The nothing-better-in-this-world comfort of a hot cup of ramen noodles…spiced up just enough to clear your sinuses! (Which sadly, only makes one more aware of the dozens of wet wool socks under the rain fly!) Desperately wanting to be dry. The group, as a whole, would shift through the rainy week from disappointed, to frustrated, to whiny….more than once, someone was ‘rescued’ from knee-deep mud, full pack on, yanked out – except for a boot! But spirits always turned, eventually….and they all became self-proclaimed champion outdoorsmen…persevering in the gloomy, soggy conditions day in and day out, heroes and heroines. (High school kids are awesome!) And I remember the following year….high temps and no rain for weeks and weeks…a mile from the sun day after day, dusty trails and dry intermittent streams….re-working some routes, for lack of water sources, pouring over the maps in base camp before heading to the trailhead, and hoping your group was a strong one to handle the extra miles. Laughing and celebrating with my guide partner at Trout Lake when the rain finally came….our group thought we were crazy! We were only parched and weary of the duration of the heat…. and so grateful for the rain! Whether on snow, in heat, or soaked through, I remember the feeling… ‘I’m done…I’ve had enough’….except when I was really done, at the end of the summer….I wasn’t. And even now, in my own bed, in my home with my family, in the chaos of PTA and piano lessons and dance classes and soccer games and work schedules….I feel it now and then…’I’m done. I’ve had enough.’ And I look at the calendar and count the months until our 10 day escape. 18 years later, I still reflect on and process what I learned in the wilderness, where God sent me from the Texas panhandle to share, to serve high school kids, to learn. The same mountains that hold you are the mountains that called me, then sent me away…down from the high places to live it out ‘down here’, to pack out what I had learned. Best. Job. Ever. I like to think the mountains remember my footprints. The trees do speak. The aspens applaud, and the spruce sway and dance in the wind and stand sentry in the still night. And the rain plays a rhythm. The wonder of it all! Romans 1:20 ‘For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.’ (NLT).

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