Saturday, March 17, 2018

Chasing Dreams of the Night

 I'm not a big plan-maker...always been a dreamer. And quite literally I have some very vivid dreams at night, not all the time but enough to move me when I do. Lately at winter's end I may have been dealing with seasonal depression or at least anxiety, which was causing me to have very vivid dreams at night. It's was my childhood land...all 80 acres. I kept returning and I didn't know why.

 In the past I've had this too, however it was in Ireland and it was autumn not winter, so I really don't know. While studying abroad and living at Victoria Lodge, I had many dreams but I especially remember a series of three dreams. In the first, it was a peaceful day in the woods back home, my siblings, dog and I playing and having fun around our old porch. Without warning, wolves came charging down from the hill behind the rustic house, ready to attack us all. I, being in full protector-flight mode, grabbed all my siblings and my dog and bolted into the house as fast as possible and bolted the door with that one-of-kind floor slider we had to lock it. My heart beat loudly as I woke up. I'm not sure if it was days or weeks before the second dream came: My siblings and I were having a typical day inside the house, and it must have been a colder season. All of a sudden I realized that the house was filling with smoke and going into flames, quickly. Immediately I thought of all my siblings and dashed everywhere upstairs and downstairs to grab them and thrust them outside the burning building. Once again my heart was beating crazily and woke me up. It all felt so weird but I was beginning to realize that it must be symbolism, as I knew that my remaining family at home were going through, to say the least, some horrible situations. My parents had just divorced a few months earlier and though I didn't keep up with all the details at this time, the dreams told me. My siblings and I were losing our childhood home and disconnecting with the life we had always known, of having our own power to provide, water to keep running, and a fire to keep warm. Not to say this was all a bad thing, but it was traumatic to us. My third dream then, over in Ireland and far far away from this childhood place, was finally peaceful: There was our place, trees cleared out and garden fence posts we'd put up, weeds, sunshine, and the wild beauty of originality that was only our crazy place. And there were cows, cows grazing peacefully on the side of our huge garden. We'd never had cows so this was something amazing to me because no longer were there wolves coming down from the hill behind the house nor was the house on fire. All was well.

So here I am on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border, living a happy little life that's quite different from the one I grew up in, and dreams return to me. It doesn't matter where I lay my head to rest, they always find me to remind me of who I am. I'm a tough Yooper, born straight from the push of a uterus into one of the neighbor's living room (Yoopers can be open-hearted that way), and spent my infancy in a trailer with no running water, no fancy baby supplies, no plumbing yet, and only wood heat to survive the winter. Dad was building the rustic house at that time. I have no idea how I survived without getting illness and there were no doctor visits, only a midwife in the beginning, so I must have been a tough Yooper. But nothing about it was a sight for the eyes, that's for sure! And since I spent 20 years there, my night dreams have often reminded me of all the corners of the cabin-like house and all the deeps of the 80 acres. In one recent dream, silly as it was, my family and the current owners were all living there together, acting like nothing was weird and taking care of everything together. That was weird but hey, I can't judge my dreams! Then in another, it was a sunny kind of day where the balmy breeze brushed the poplars in that signature way, but it was our uphill next-door neighbor's trees, and I was coming into our old land from that direction. Before you'd reach our lot from that direction, there was the edge of their field, a wild apple orchard with drumming partridges hidden in the branches, the veins of taller hardwoods and then into the smaller poplars, maple, cedar, pine and birch. There was no path down, we just had our signature marks throughout, and whenever we'd walk through in that direction my dog Maxine  would always scout out a 360-degree range around us to smell all the smells and bark at squirrels and porcupines that she thought she was protecting us from. She LOVED running through there and always had the happiest eyes when when came back to me. "Good, good girl," I'd tell her.

So there I was heading back to the root land where dreams are born, and I really didn't have a plan. I really didn't know if I had the guts to stop by, to chase down my dreams that kept facing me down. As if they were saying,"Amelia, it's okay can go and make peace. You can go and see." I've spent six years coming to terms with my new life in the modern world where we pay someone else to provide our running water, our heat, our electricity. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed in gratitude for all the wonder that is technology and power, and yet other times I'm depressed because I feel useless that everyday is not critical survival like it used to be, living off-grid. So I had no idea how I'd deal with my emotions if I just drove back and casually walked around the place like I knew it. Because I do know it. I didn't know if it would wreck me in a bad way. But I knew when I started this year that this would need to be my year of being bold, and for me this was bold.

I parked my car and it felt very weird and peaceful all at the same time. I looked around and breathed, and casually but not so casually walked in the drive, seeing the all-familiar snow and mud that thankfully wasn't too messy yet. The stream and frog pond, wow how tiny it all looked to me now, where we used to squish our feet in the mud, catch frogs, put fish and baby turtles name it. And the driveway didn't seem so long as it used to, where we practiced our biking skills, dog-training, read the mail, etc. And there was the cabin-like house, not changed much from the way we made it, yet perhaps solar panels and an updated generator system. It was emotional, but I was okay. I knew I needed to go as close to Maxine's grave as I could. The evening sun was streaming across the ridge and through the woods just like I'd remembered so well. It's an intense wild beauty that I used to stand in and just soak up, and here I was as an adult and needing that again. So I stood, at the edge of the garden for awhile, just soaking in the peace of it all. I was so thankful and this filled me in a way I can't describe. And then I heard it: snorting. And I knew it but could hardly believe it: there were no cows but horses grazing on my old land! Horses, three big ones very majestic and strong, and then a wee miniature pony. Wow, wow! I dared myself to walk further near their fence and saw another thing: our old favorite maple tree was cut down, which is where my Maxine was buried at its base. I stared at the spot of the big maple's base where my brothers and Nana had put her in the ground for me after I'd put her to sleep with the Vet. I let myself tear-up as I remembered her, and all the memories we'd had. And I thanked God for the horses as I'd always dreamed of that while growing up. Here they were exactly where I thought horses should be! I asked God to bless the current owners there with the life they have, and then spoke briefly to a young girl who came out with her uncle. They were pleasant and I told them that I used to live there. I could have told them much more, but I was humble and moved and words escaped me. And just as I had walked in, I walked out and was just fine emotionally. I needed this, I knew. Sometimes we have to chase the dreams of the night, if they make any sense at all.

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