My Nana is a special lady, full of character and one tough cookie. She showed me how a woman can do anything she puts her heart into, and my Nana put her full heart into life. And though it seems too early, I'm losing my Nana, and she is heading for a new adventure in that place beyond this life, and we are making our last goodbyes.
Nana was a farm girl in Montana, she tells me stories of her and her sister bringing the Jersey cows home from pasture, out of the valley, up over the ridge in the evening, sometimes even riding the old dears part of the way back. Nana saw in me a kindred spirit, although I grew up in the city, I was always "her nature girl". My favorite times spent with her were on our yearly family reunion camping trip, celebrated every year in August for almost 20 years straight.
Nana and I would take the trail from the campgrounds to the coast together, walking through the filtered light of the pines. The landscape changed gradually over the 2 mile walk, the forest would end, and open up to wild grass and shrub land, getting rockier and more open as we reached the ocean's edge, then up the coast a ways, on the tumbled salt-sprayed boulders of the Northern California coast. And each place held treasures that we would collect. The forest offered Blue Jay feathers, creeping forest flowers, mushrooms, leaves, along with the bubbling brook with a small foot bridge where we could look for fish or frogs, fallen logs where snakes might hide, and always the canopy full of calling Jays and Crows. The grassland offered wildflowers of every hue, along with wispy grass seedheads, and my favorite Lamb's Ears, so soft, I would rub the leaves and think of bunny ears. We walked quiet and alert through the grass land, hoping to spot a grazing deer or elk.
Nana held the treasures that we gathered as we walked. She taught me how to call the ducks with Goose Grass held between our palms. She would hold my hand, or I would walk ahead, leading the way and moving between all of the beauty I found in the natural world around us, so different from rows of houses and lawns, beauty I knew she saw and loved, too. Nana held each unique bouquet of treasures on our walk. As if it were a great work of art, we would arrange it and fill it out with complementary colors and textures from the familiar palette of our nature walk. She made it feel special to me as a girl, these moments that are now incomparably precious to me, looking back.
The coast line held many treasures of rock, shell and seaweed, ocean tossed wood and glass. These treasures were usually pocketed and poured over when we reached our favorite rock, where the rest of the family gathered with food and feast. Nana and I took the walking path together. As Nana settled into the family routine of serving and seating and talk and laughter, I would scamper about the tidepools and rocks. There was always a starfish or hermit crab to bring back and share with her, always a seal bobbing in the waves to point out, always a seagull overhead, nagging for a scrap of the feast. And she always listened and looked, and saw what I showed her. Thank you Nana for showing me life, and sharing in it's discovery with me. I'll always be your nature girl.