Panda's First Smile

Panda's First Smile
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Sunday, September 15, 2013


This Sunday morning I picked up my mail and
enclosed was a stunning, glossy, inviting catalog
of Adventure Trips to the "Arctic Kingdom"
so I needed to get out of the building.
Since I cannot get out of the building, I went to
the roof. This is the first summer I am happy
to see leave us. Having the windows open to
the unending roar of a big city
was hell. Next spring, if feasible, I am
definitely moving to a flat, quieter place.
Close to nature.

DREAMS...the Arctic...last night I began to
remember how it felt to be a wildlife photographer,
how it felt to wake up in the morning knowing that
if God asked: "Good morning, Chana, today you
can do anything in the whole world that you want!
I will give you your heart's desire, what would you
like today?" The answer? I wanted to be a wildlife
photographer, an outdoor writer, an environmental
educator, an activist...and I was!!!

Outdoor adventure, awesome people, sacred moments
communing with wildlife in Cathedrals carved by God,
tallgrass prairies, marshes, swamps, mountain peaks who
beckon the soul like Towering Sentinels...and wildlife
who...if you learn to be quiet, not move, and just listen,
whisper secrets and reveal Gorgeousness that was too
breathtaking to photograph. My best photographs
never got taken because I could not place a viewfinder
between myself and them in those Holy Moments,
which - if I can learn to scan Kodachrome into digital
images, I hope to share...the most indelible memories
live on in my heart & soul, not Kodachrome.

Did I want to adventure in the Arctic?

It made me need to sit on the roof.

Life has been the most extraordinary Gift bringing
friendships, adventure, solitude, introspection...

There is nothing to regret.

The question now is how to accept the "unlived life"
 finding out within the next few weeks whether a
diagnosis and treatment mean it will be lived.

The hospital is going to admit me, thanks to the
Transitions to Hospice Team. And the AmeriCorps
Volunteer who comes to visit...she could be my
daughter...a cowgirl from Montana she is an avid
hiker and we went up to the roof while I showed
her how to strap on snowshoes, what gear she needed,
and how to learn about avalanche danger for
safe, wintering, unforgettable
Adventures in our North Cascades.
For hours we sat on the roof and talked only
of Mountain Adventure and horseback riding.

The day after that was the first day I didn't wake up
at 5:30 a.m. crying. Because Life woke up instead.

Then the brochure arrived about the Arctic.

Beluga whales actually have facial expressions
and if you dunk your head into the water (if you
can stand to) they are curious and will come
up to you and they will smile.

I always wanted to smile at a Beluga Whale.

Who wouldn't?

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  1. Thank God you can go anywhere and do anything in your dreams and imagination. That's how I travel, no expenses. Black Beauty needs some racing stripes! Yeah to Hospice getting you admitted and Yay to Americorp. Good Sunday morning to you and your clan. *smooches*

  2. Yes, Marifun, Black Beauty DOES NEED SOME RACING STRIPES, I have been wondering how to "outfit her" and we did, indeed, have a fine weekend! Yeah for Life, Yeah for Friends, Yeah for snowshoes, Yah for YOU! Thank you, it seems you know my heart! By taking the foot rests off Black Beauty I can often lean forward and "walk her" without any worry of falling and also wheeling her about gives some upper body exercise and strength...for YEARS I stubbornly refused a wheelchair other than rent or borrow, yet she is A-OK! Thank you for the courage to read this painful, yet also funny and still "NEVAH GONNA BEHAVE!" portion of my Journey when quite a few have begged off...I understand this and recognize the material can be painful but with Life still so full and beautiful and now with things - after TEN MONTHS - finally moving towards a comfort...i am so profoundly grateful you remain my friend.
    chana & the Piggies :)