In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mirrors--Lakes and Ponds

Friday's hike to Lake Helene at the head of Odessa Gorge in RMNP brought companionship and lunch with old friends, views, wildflowers and a perfectly calm day at the mirror-like lake. One of the joys of visiting Lake Helene is that it's a quiet spot during the crowded summer hiking season. Our companions for most of our relaxing lunch stop were those of the natural surroundings--rocks, a field of yellow flowers, asters and pink elephant heads in front of the lake, Notchtop Mountain in the background, and the sounds of a small stream under the rocks where we sat. The lake reflected flowers and pine trees so clearly that it was difficult to tell where the lake began.

As I reviewed my photographs, I was reminded of another reflection in water--that of the pond in the woods on the farm where I grew up. While it was not pristine clear, often surrounded by bright green scum that looked as if it could be ladled up like thick cream, there was a fallen tree in the pond for many years. It was on that tree trunk that I scooted far enough into the pond to see my reflection.

That girl-in-the-pond was my confident. I knew that she was my reflection, but I talked to her as if she was another girl. In a way, she was. It was in her eyes that I saw the tears and sadness that I couldn't make Mother well or the expressions of anger and hurt that she wouldn't recognize me in the meetings. I couldn't be sad. As best I could, I left my sadness with the pond girl. I didn't want to be sad like Mother.

I shared my anger and my secrets with the pond girl too. I could worry about how sad she looked or wonder if she was cold as if she was not me. I didn't worry about her anger. I knew that it, like mine, was locked up where it wouldn't get out.

The old saying, "still water runs deep" comes to mind. Still water's reflections can allow us to see what might otherwise be hidden. Looking back in my mind's eye at those childhood reflections allowed me to get in touch with the grief that I ascribed to the pond girl, to let it flow out of that compartment and dissolve. That outpouring of grief allowed for a deeper appreciation of little Margaret's hidden suffering. It made room for a richer appreciation of clear calm Lake Helene, and wonder about what might have been reflected on its shores over the years.

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