I am forever fascinated by the differing environments
of this gorgeous planet.
When I was younger, I would watch documentaries filled with deep-sea jellyfish, auroras and jungle monkeys. We had a computer game, my siblings and I, that enchanted us for hours with its facts about the Amazon rainforests and the many creatures living there.
But I never thought I would be the kind of person who would one day leave home to visit those Earthly environments.
I grew up on a windy outstretch of land on the South Island of New Zealand. I grew up beside the sea... the waves are in my bones, the salt in my tangled hair, the water my blood, the shells my eyes. The sea calls to me in my dreams, I love her dearly.
However, this intimate connection only became clear to me when I began to travel! Living so close to the shore, I had grown used to the sound of the surf, and it only seemed natural to me that the sea would always be there... I guess I never thought much about it, before coming to the mountains.
My husband Oliver grew up in Colorado. The mountains are his home - the tall, rocky places of the world give him life, breath, and purpose. I see it every time we turn our heads to the hills. As we travel to the higher places of the world, Oliver becomes more animated, lively and thoughtful. He is normally such a quiet and inwardly-contained person, so it is always quite lovely to hear him say, "I missed the mountains, I didn't realise it till now, but I have missed them." Then I feel like I am glimpsing some chink of his own epiphany, a part of his personal, soulful natural connection that he gently shares with me, and it is a special moment. That is also how I feel about the sea.
On the top of Mont Blanc, where the cable car ends and the sky begins; where the wind thrashes and grabs at the small prayer flags that wrap around every cold metal surface, Oliver shared that same sentiment: that he had missed the mountains. It was such a moving moment, us standing there, arm in arm... the wind whipped up tears in my eyes, probably half from the cold, but also from the sheer joy.
I get this feeling, sometimes when I am on the road, that I am suddenly awakening from a deep sleep... then, looking around me I become aware of my surroundings, like I am seeing them for the first time. This feeling came over me up there, in the Alps. I saw the way the clouds were gathered in layers that hugged the mountain's shoulders, hundreds of feet below us. I saw the sun glinting off every white and obsidian point. I saw the tiny specks moving in the distance - climbers traversing a ridge. I saw it, laughed, then skipped merrily about, holding hands then rushing forward, stopping to investigate the icicles of an overhanging ledge (tentatively licking a few), then I was off again, discovering a tunnel in the snow! And so it went. Oftentimes, my bliss stems from just being alive, and then everything around me is living too, and I am interacting with it all.
I am slowly learning of my own connections with the natural world. I feel like a child, wandering with a head full of thunder and curiosity. There are so many reasons as to why I travel, but mainly it is this: in my heart I feel this calling of the wilds - not just one wild, but many wilds; places that hold some spark for me. It is like, wherever I go, the wilds hold those parts of me still to be discovered, and something else, too. I was taken away from my oceans to live for long periods of time in the mountains with Oliver, and during those times I feel as if the ocean is flowing out of me into the dry, high alpine desert lands. The songs that I wove, when I stood shoreside, they caught and entangled the waves and the water so I could take them to hilltops and to the red soils.
Oliver and Me, the mountains and the sea.