ecopsychology_OM-TimesBy Tatiana Casey

Part I

I couldn’t sleep. For the first time in a long time, I had stepped out of the comfort zone I had made of my life in Texas and into an unfamiliar territory. I lay awake on the tattered brown couch near the window of a dense, Oregon landscape. As I watched my thoughts pass by like clouds, oblivious to the low hums of music still playing in the background, I felt the stroke of a familiar hand on my face. The gentleness in her touch and recognizable long fingers could be none other than my best friend, Ivory. She leaned over the couch. Her thick, red curls were wrapped in a hand-knit, yellow, scarf. “Let’s go to the top of Mount Tabor and watch the sun rise,” she said. Her penetrating blue eyes stared into mine, pulling me up from my seat. She then handed me a yellow overcoat that, appropriately, matched the scarf she was wearing and we headed out the door.

The spring air was crisp. I shoved my hands into my coat pockets to keep warm. White flowers cascaded from the branches of cherry trees as we followed the paved roads to the extinct volcano, now a 196 acre park in the middle of south-east Portland. Upon entering the park, the smell of wet fir and pine trees flooded my senses with an aroma so unlike the smell of the oak and mesquite trees I had grown accustomed to in Texas. Suddenly, the sound of pounding feet startled us. When I turned to see what was approaching at such rapid speed, a group of runners passed by. A young man, no older than 21years, slowed for a brief moment to greet us. “Beautiful morning,” he said, smiling. I nodded in agreement. He then picked up his speed and joined the group ahead. Nature seems to have an inspiring, infectious feeling today, I thought.

Before long, we reached the trail-head and began our 20 minute ascent up the mountainside. Silence. The trees were watching, the wind whispering to us to follow. As I trudged up the trail, my mind became a silent reverie lost in the moment. Ivory was also quiet – absorbing the subtle hints of morning rain dripping from the canopy of Douglas firs onto her pale, freckled cheeks. With each step, I began to notice things I had never paid attention to before. A stone, which would have been meaningless to me in the past, glistened in a patch of English ivy. As I untangled it from the vines, I remembered a friend, Lakota Indian, who once told me that – in his tradition – stones were actually “stone people” and the history of our land was recorded within them. He said to listen to the stones and observe our surroundings – as what we see on the outside is a reflection of what is happening on the “inside” as well. Before that day, I didn’t realize that he was talking about our connection with the Earth.

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