For those of you who don’t know, I am a botanist at the bottom of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Plants are my love and my life. Can’t remember a time not gardening, or hiking, or skipping school to disappear into the woods for a few hours.
I work outside long hours when the weather permits. The bulk of my fieldwork is done at a remote training center for the Army in SE Colorado. After growing up in the east and then living in the Colorado mountains, I never imagined I would like the prairie. I have come to appreciate its incredible beauty despite the harshness of constant winds, extreme heat and cold, and the threat from mosquitoes (west nile) and mice (hanta virus). It is also a place where I escape. I’m forty miles from town and cell phone reception. And anywhere from 15-25 miles in any direction from a land line and the net. Only a few others live there. Most I will only see once or twice as I check in and check out.
I leave again for a few days this week. To work, to think, and contemplate the full moon that will rise off my front porch.
While the following nowhere near describes the landscape there, it is still one of my favorites and speaks well to where I frequently find myself.
The Path That Leads to Nowhere
There’s a path that leads to Nowhere
In a meadow that I know,
Where an inland island rises
And the stream is still and slow;
There it wanders under willows
And beneath the silver green
Of the birches’ silent shadows
Where the early violets lean.
Other pathways lead to Somewhere,
But the one I love so well
Has no end and no beginning —
Just the beauty of the dell,
Just the windflowers and the lilies
Yellow striped as adder’s tongue,
Seem to satisfy my pathway
As it winds their sweets among.
There I go to meet the Springtime,
When the meadow is aglow,
Marigolds amid the marshes, —
And the stream is still and slow. —
There I find my fair oasis,
And with care-free feet I tread
For the pathway leads to Nowhere,
And the blue is overhead!
All the ways that lead to Somewhere
Echo with the hurrying feet
Of the Struggling and the Striving,
But the way I find so sweet
Bids me dream and bids me linger,
Joy and Beauty are its goal, —
On the path that leads to Nowhere
I have sometimes found my soul!
Corinne Roosevelt Robinson (1861-1933)