Looking Out Across the Valley

On a cool morning, the view across the valley of the Clyde river in the Lanark highlands is sublime. Cassie and I walked these pine clad coves and hills and valleys together for years, and there was something astonishing for us to witness every single time we did: an owl peering at us from the shadows, deer and wild turkeys grazing at dawn, hidden groves of gently nodding bloodroot in late April and early May, wild orchids in June. In an early autumn fog, the view out across the valley is the pure distilled essence of enchantment and wildness, absolutely breathtaking, and it delineates the lovely folkloric expression "over the hills and far away", better than anything else I can think of of offhand.
This year, it is Spencer and I who are walking here together, at least physically. My darling Cassie traveled beyond the fields we know late last summer, but she is here in spirit and dancing along beside us, for she always loved our walks, and she has always loved this place.
In springtime, there are wild orchids blooming under the trees here, early lilies, trilliums and columbines nodding across the sunlit hills; choirs of grosbeaks in summer, endless groves of fiery maples, coppery beeches and golden oaks in autumn, deep stands of fragrant blue-green pine and spruce in winter. The long white season has its own windswept wonders, but it is sometimes difficult to partake of them - the snow is often too deep for easy walking on such treacherous terrain, even on snowshoes. In winter, Spencer and I stand looking out over the hills together, and we dream of making tracks across the pristine waves and billows and endless rolling snow dunes stretching into the distance.
What does one do when grief and sadness wash over her like an endless rolling tide and threaten to drown her in their ceaseless motion? What does she do when she is unable to traverse the wild and healing splendors of her chosen place, her forest of the heart? The answer is simple. She cultivates forbearance, and she looks back. She thinks of the other magical hours spent in these wild places, of clan and tribe and the dear companions who were once here with her and have traveled on ahead to the Elysian fields - she gives thanks for the priceless gift of having known and loved them all.
Forbear and forbearance are lovely words. They spring from the Middle English forberen, thence from the Old English forberan, both meaning to endure or to get through something, and to do so with grace and dignity. When we cultivate forbearance, we are exercising tolerance, patience, charity and restraint in adverse circumstances and times of provocation — we are treating our companions on this circular earthly journey (and ourselves too) with mindfulness, compassion, respect and forgiveness.
One of these days, my gratitude in having known and loved those who have traveled on ahead in the last year or so will conquer the pain of losing them. I cultivate mindfulness and a gentle forbearance, and I wait patiently for that gratitude, knowing beyond the shadow of any doubt that in some measure, I shall be walking these hallowed hills forever, and that my departed companions will be here too and walking along with me. A fine untrammeled wildness dwells in my blood and bones.