"Each walk brings her home through another world—the world of the living river, the boggy meadows and swamps, the fence rows, the thickets, the forests, her human neighbors yards and gardens, and the desert. All these worlds form a great circle—the circle rotates around Mary and she around it.” (From Crossing Wyoming by David Romtvedt.)
In the essay collection Hiking Alone: Trails Out, Trails Home, New Mexico author Mary Beath writes, “The land itself wraps you in a new skin. But you also feel your own skin turn inside out…You swallow the landforms and open meadows and forests whole; and they swallow you.”
Gail Storey promised not to suffer when she agreed to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with her husband. I’m not talking a half-mile trail here. I’m talking about a 2,663-mile trail from Mexico (south of the border) to Canada (north of the border). Amazing!
“I was shocked into my own existence,” writes Gail after hiking a sleet-covered switchback while being pelted with wind and ice, “born wet and confused on all fours on the muddy earth, deep in the loamy musk of it.”
Yes, we do yearn for this primal reconnection, this reentry into our origins. Not all of us, but enough of us that we hunger for stories like Gail’s because they remind us that we are not alone in this yearning, not alone in our desire to balance the exhale of our frantic lives with the inhale of nature’s rhythms.
|Featured in the Denver Post May 14, 2013|
Each chapter of I Promise Not to Suffer begins with a reference to distance, which helps us get our bearings: We’re this far from Mexico. We’re this far from Canada.
This is a funny and poignant read. And so artfully crafted that it’s easy to miss the simple elegance of her prose. Gail is a fool for love, and when she waxes poetic about Porter, I find myself enthralled. “When he holds me, light-boned against his sculpted muscles, I know I’m being held. No matter how deeply I look into his gray-green eyes, I never touch bottom.”