To Believe in Possibility, Conquest, Renewal

The pearly petals splash against the luscious green of the leaves.

Who cannot believe in possibilities when the Pacific dogwoods are in full bloom?

The crystal-clear mist quenches the hikers’ thirst and lifts their spirit.

Who cannot believe in conquest when the waterfalls dogwoodfallyosemiteskyburst from the snowmelt?

The clouds swell in a sky as deep and blue as the eyes of a newborn.

Who cannot believe in renewal when the heavens are within reach?

I never craved rituals before leaving my native France. My homeland, cradle of my childhood, was filled with traditions and customs where I organically belonged. But, far from my familiar, living alternatively on both coasts of the United States, the need for roots called for rituals.

I never considered the importance of geography when I lived in France. Growing up in Normandy and then living in Paris, my territory was effortlessly etched in my life.

Similar to the slow, and yet necessary acquisition of English as my new language, I found important to visit, understand, and adopt the traditions and geography of my new land so that one day, they could also be mine.

Adopting the customs was the easiest part, especially with my children who had little knowledge of my culture. Discovering the American holidays, celebrations and traditions through their schooling was much more fun than learning on my own.

Fitting in a landscape so different from my accustomed terrain took me more time.

This is why, not unlike during my first year in Paris, I started to walk a lot.

I walked through the cities and towns, through the forests and along the beaches, wherever my family lived, exploring and getting lost, discovering and liking, fitting in or disliking, always remembering of all places.

I left my footprints, a step at a time, as a testimony to my belonging.

When I traded cities and suburbs for mountains and foothills, I swapped walks for hikes.

And although the terrain and the weather had never been more foreign to me, were rarely pleasing at first sight and were sometimes hostile, I instinctively knew that trekking the switchbacks would lead me somewhere. Year after year, I extended my territory. My hikes, strenuous or leisurely, have offered me much more than blisters and views. One by one, as I checked them off from my to-do list, I had made them mine and I belonged to them.

I will never tame nature in the way I adopted streets and neighborhoods, forest trails and beaches, and this is why I return, at each change of season, to Yosemite.

To attest the presence of the dogwoods, of the waterfalls, and of the sky, so I can believe once more in possibilities, conquest, and renewal.

So I can face a clean screen or a white page and look forward to telling more of my story.

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