You taught me how to look at things up close. How to get so close to something I learned its smell. Old man’s beard, cranberries frozen on the stem, the smooth grain of birch – they revealed their secrets to my curious young senses. You taught me how to stand with my eyes closed and feel the mood of the forest in the wind. You and the wind were always talking, always dancing, sometimes fighting, and you let me listen in. You taught me how to be still and silent – especially when I didn’t want to be seen by other people, but also when making friends with foxes and chickadees and pelicans. In silence I sank into a deeper knowing of all things, sinking deep into the earth itself till I felt myself slowly spinning with it. You taught me how to uncover the next season, how to smell spring before it came and know by a certain tone in the trees that old man winter was hobbling closer. You taught me how to hear music in the river, in the raindrops, even in the falling snow. You taught me to feel small under the glowing sky, but as big as the north I was part of. You taught me to throw my dreams to the distant horizon where the sun caught them and circled them around the earth on the shortest night of the year, only to hurl them back in brilliant tones of morning fire. You taught me to love, to look for magic in the common life of your hidden corners. You wrapped me in a blanket and made me your queen.
Now I find myself on a distant shore, with wonders strange and beautiful. Though your throne is far to the northwest, I pull your blanket closer and close my eyes. When I open them, your gifts are all around me again, ready to be unwrapped in red sand.