I am a single woman, in the last decades of my life, and sometimes I lay my head down on my pillow at the end of a busy day and wonder about being solitary in the world. My life plays through my mind like a thin thread of film, projected on the dark wall across from me. I am both in awe and fearful. My life, alone, is a peaceful one. Perhaps this is what was always meant to be. But that acceptance and peace does not necessarily keep me from looking at the connection that others have in their partnered lives.
Autumn often causes this rerun, the movie of over sixty autumns that I can remember. In every other autumn I would not have written the previous paragraph down, especially not in this format, perhaps in a private journal. But, now, how does it really matter?
I remember a moment in a single engine Cessna, somewhere over Wisconsin. We were flying north into Duluth when we got into difficulty and with time, our cloud ceiling was at 200 and then 100 and our pilot was requesting permission to land on a highway, the only visual reference we had. Knowing that there were towers in the area and knowing that our pilot only had visual rating was frightening. I clung to my then-partner’s hands, both of them. Averting the first option, the wings bowed deeply sideways into the white cloud as we banked to go south and out of the fog/cloud. When we came around, the tree tops were an arm’s length from the plane’s belly. I remember them as though it was yesterday. They were conifers. I kept saying, “The trees. The trees.” Not yelling and not particularly panicked. This was a nightmare. I had time to think, “I wonder how Mom and Dad will find me.” I let go of my partner’s hand. Instinctively I knew, ‘in the end I face this all alone.’
And I do.
Winter is coming. A family of bald eagles has taught me much these past months but for several weeks, the juveniles have been distant, sent out of this territory to hunt, fish and find their own way. The female came to some demise and is now gone. The male has sheltered and fed the young. A new sub adult has made herself known and has done multiple demonstrations for the juveniles. She is a beautiful strong huntress. The male has been close to her, but it seems that they are always in some wild discussion, resistant and yet set on a path. Who knows what spring will bring. It was only in the first snowfall that the youngsters returned to their nesting territory, bleating to the cold wind, about their fears and their challenges. It was the day before yesterday’s snow that both the male and female arrived and consoled me with their familiar roosts in their favourite tree branches. These beautiful raptors act as a unit, but live deeply their singular lives…it is what they must do to survive and for the species to survive.
These photographs were taken over these few weeks of Autumn..in no particular order. They capture the prayers and the beauty and the journey of a single woman in a very beautiful world.