All things begin. All things end.
Janelle and I have felt uneasy lately, eager to return to the hills, the source of our energy and friendship. Ironically, the duties of the book have kept us from hiking. And so, as we begin a week that will surely be a busy and crucial few days (two interviews and two readings in four days), the girl and I vowed that we were going to do something about it.
We decide to burn our marzipan hiker images. Wait, wait. Don’t be horrified.
The beautiful Tibetan tradition of offering prayer flags as blessings to the wind came to mind as we talked about how to “reset” our heads back toward the natural world that we both love. It is said that the Buddhist mantras affixed to the flags are carried by the wind across the countryside, and, just as a drop of water can permeate the ocean, the prayers are thought to dissolve into the wind and all beings touched by that wind are uplifted. Prayer flags are often either left to dissolve back into nature or are burned so the smoke may carry the flags’ blessings to the world.
Whatever your belief, or not, that seems like a very fine tradition.
Our marzipan hikers were important reminders of each of our commitments to projects that held deep and life-changing meaning to us. Meenakshi created my marzipan image to commemorate the completion of a 2011 hiking project calling the 48 in 30. I spent a month hiking all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot mountains to raise money and awareness for the Holy Cross Family Learning Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching English and citizenship skills to refugees.
Janelle’s marzipan effigy was built by her aunt, and used to celebrate her amazing 52 With a View commitment and accomplishment.
The two creations have chilled in our fridge at the cabin since the completion of these two goals.
This weekend, at our annual camping trip with Meena and Aaron, as well as the twins’ best friends, Meg and Ian, Janelle and I rededicated our commitment to our love of nature and our friendship, by sacrificing the creations. Closing one door with a fire of renewal, allowing us to open a new portal to a new adventure.
I feared at first that Janelle would be reluctant. She adores her aunt, and our marzipan hikers held very real significance to both of us. But she understood almost immediately, and in fact was the one to bring them to the fire pit. I carefully built a box fire, and placed an old, crumbling chair above the fire to give the marzipan hikers a final throne.
Then, together, my spider monkey and I reached into the pit and lit the fire. The other kids spontaneously held aloft hand-made torches as a salute. I put my arm around my friend, and together we watched the flames devour our past, and the smoke drift up and over the cabin and disappear into the wind.
“For all we’ve done, for as far as we’ve come,” I whispered to Janelle. “For all our new adventures.”
“Everyone around will have good luck now,” she said.
There were no tears. How could there be? We were there, with the people we loved, about to cook smores over the flames of the fire of our purification. We are as strong as we’ve ever been. We head to White Birch Books in Conway on Tuesday, and Littleton Library on Wednesday. We will reach out and meet new people, and bring the story of our friendship to whomever will listen.
And on Wednesday morning, in between those two events, we will hike, someplace. We’ll get dirty. We’ll smell like bug spray. We’ll eat PB&J and we will rejoice in the trail, and the mountains, and in being together.
We are renewed.