where the trail leads us
When I was a young girl I spent many of my summer days at a camp in the Rockies climbing mountains thanks to my thoughtful grandparents. Donned in my grandfather's old plaid cotton dress shirts, swiss army knife, and instamatic camera, I proceeded to venture on as many hikes and backpacks as the camp would let me. I just remember that despite my young adolescent awkwardness, at that time, there in the mountains with friends I felt at ease in my own skin.
The hiking trails we followed often began in the forest below treeline and usually were clear and distinct starting out, but often led us into expansive meadows of wildflowers or fields of snow where we would have to pay close attention so as not to become disoriented or lose sight of where we might once again find the trail.
As we continued on, generally we could see the tops of the mountains as the trail opened into tundra with its lichen covered rocks and cropped flora, and we would simply make our own way to the top, while other times we would follow little stacks of rocks that those who had come before us had left to help us make a good decision as to our route, especially when the way became steep and treacherous.
There are so many different trails in life to follow, but for some reason or another, we choose a path, and follow along. Once on that trail, often what comes next is a product of where we have been and where the trail ultimately leads us. Just as with the mountain trails, sometimes where we are headed is not so clearly defined. Sometimes we trust the trail that beckons us forward and sometimes we forge our own paths with our goal clearly in sight.
One of the favorite things I remember about climbing mountains from those camp days. was to look back from the top and see down into valley and forest, tracing our route from up above. You couldn't always see the mountaintop while hiking beneath the forest canopy, but on top of the peak you could easily look back and see the overall picture and perspective of the path we had traveled.
And so, likewise, with a view that comes from "hiking" along the many years of life, I reflect on the day I began to board the plane in Shetland en route to Fair Isle last fall, and I look back and view the path that eventually led me there. It was not a random event, like a visit to some tourist spot that happened to be on some list of suggested places to see, although it may have appeared that way if one only looked on it superficially based on the amount of time I had spent preparing for the journey. But actually it was the trail that had led me there, and I merely had put one foot in front of the other, beginning with the first footsteps taken decades earlier.
These early footsteps found me in the summer of 1985, and it had been just a year since we had started to construct a fishing home/warehouse at the edge of a beaver pond "out the road" from town. What is funny is that just a few years previously, when we first bought the property, after seeing it briefly in the midst of a torrential rain storm, all we could see in the low clouds and pouring rain was a dark and dense rainforest, knee deep in water. We still smile at the thought of that pleasant surprise of finding that just beyond the thick stand of trees lay a beautiful pond, grassy marsh, and panoramic view of sweeping forests and distant snow capped mountains, which eventually would become the backdrop for a host of summertime campfires and potlucks shared with our friends and their children through the years and seasons marked by fish openings and closures. Sometimes gifts arrive in unusual packages.
It had taken a couple of years from that first day we stepped on to the property to actually build. Like a giant erector set, our fishing crew had ended up putting the building together during their down time as they happened to be on strike that summer, in hopes of raising the grounds price being paid for their fish. Once the crew were off and on their way and back to fishing, framers came in and erected the infrastructure, and it didn't take me very long after to begin operating the makeshift needlework shop which would eventually end up in the net loft of our building.
I painted a simple sign on a board and nailed it to a tree, put up a new sign at the post office and I was ready to begin. I already was selling and teaching cross stitch from the back of my truck, and, as ignorance is bliss, in my own mind, it was all it needed to be. I had fine linen and Danish Flower thread from Denmark, DMC floss from France, precision needlework scissors from Germany, lovely little porcelein boxes awaiting needlework from England, a variety of patterns and kits from Europe and the United States, and all I wanted was to show and share my true love of needlework and somehow provide an opportunity to make a connection of sorts. It didn't matter in my mind that there was no fancy surroundings, for fine materials and friendship were the most important components, and I had to use what I had, and not worry about what I didn't, or it never would have come into being. I still planned to continue to hang fishing nets, and so the net loft was constructed with that in mind. But, you know, sometimes trails don't always go the way we think or expect them to. . .
and what comes next around the bend will show you just what I mean.