Greetings and Salutations! Today I wanted to share a few short stories about my time with Florence Mary. With it being close to summer here in the West Kootenays I am reminded of precious times spent with Florence, especially those times we spent deep in the heart of nature. Some of our deepest growth together was when we were walking along a river or along a winding woods trail. We would get in the truck and head into the woods always knowing that spirit was beside us guiding us to our next understanding.
When I first met Florence she was in her late forties. Myself, I was around 27. Florence would share with me what she knew about spirit and meditation and all things higher consciousness. In return, I coaxed her into nature and to the messages and heartbeats of Mother Earth. We spent many nights camping along the PendOrielle River South of Trail, British Columbia. This was once frontier land with an interesting history. They had dammed up the river, it did not flow the way it once did. The land had been long sold off to hydro companies and the homestead and nomadic peoples that once dotted the landscape were long gone, but the land still had the magic within…..
We had been driving up deep into the mountains on the PendOrielle when Florence motioned me to stop the truck. “Get out and walk a ways up the road, there is a gift waiting for you”, she said. It was a hot summer day in early July. The heat of the sun mixed with the scent of summer grasses and Pine trees gave off an almost incense like impression on the senses. I walked a ways and fell into a trance like state. When I got up a ways I saw a tree, a beautiful pine tree, so I made a b-line for it. As soon as I got close to the tree I heard a commotion. The sound of a million feathers fanning caused quite the commotion and I was somewhat startled by the noise. On branches and around the tree, were grouse, several of them and they began to scatter. As they scattered I began to feel my consciousness change and so did the scene in front of me. The vision I saw was of several warriors who had gathered to perform the spiral dance. Drums and the fanning of feathers and these beautiful souls dancing frontwards and backwards but always in a spiral, singing and moving in a perfection that not even a Hollywood movie could successfully accomplish. I stood there and watched for a while until the dance was almost done and then I snapped out of it and the scene was gone. I went over to the tree and picked up a few grouse feathers and held them like I had received a treasure. These men met specifically to perform that dance and probably did that every year and then returned back to their nomadic ways. I felt a connection to that place and yet I would never return to that spot ever again. Once was enough, no need to push the river, so to speak. This is one little story, but I have another…
One day we were driving in the mountains and I was telling Florence how much I love to hike. I always feel closer to the creator when I am in the alpine. The winds speak to me and the mountains become my beloved the higher up I go. Myself, I considered conquering mountains akin to conquering the challenges of life. Alpine had a way of recharging my soul and body. A refuge from the daily storms of life in the city. Florence was a country girl and a city girl, not necessarily a mountain girl. At this time in her life she was focused on the art gallery and home projects as well as contributing energies to charity and self preservation. She worked on her writings and her artwork and gardening, cooking, etc. So, as we drove the winding mountain roads, we often spoke of what was in our hearts.
Florence had at one time even gone to the gym and lifted weights but was not in the best of shape at this point in time. She was telling me as we drove along about how she could never do what i do when it comes to hiking or go to the places i go. No sooner had the words come out of her mouth when i began to feel goosebumps. We turned the corner and i pulled off to the side of the steep dirt road. If you were to look straight up from where i parked, there was a large mountain with what looked like a golden meadow on the top once you got past the scree field in front of it. I told Florence to get out of the truck because she was going to climb this mountain with me. She looked at me like i was crazy. “I can’t go up there, she said”. “Its not an option, you are climbing this mountain with me or you are going to die trying, i said”. All of a sudden the shoes were on the other foot, so to speak. I demanded that she find her stamina and her balance and hike to the top. I never left that womans side the whole way up the mountain. No trails, sheer tenacity and an eye on the prize, which was the view from the top. It took us about 45 minutes to get to that mountain top and although her body was screaming from the work out, i watched her conquer at least 2000 meters of mountain with calm and determination. When we got to that mountain top she began to cry. Thank you thank you, she said to me. ” I have never conquered a mountain before.” The view was staggering. Looking south to the USA or north into Canada, the view was spectacular. Florence sat on a large boulder atop the mountain and began to meditate. I joined her. We got quiet and opened our hearts. Florence began to recieve colours and began to announce them. When she was finished speaking, she had seen each guide in its own colour and when she opened her eyes there were 5 eagles flying just off and down from where we were perched. They flew in a circular dance. It was beautiful and for us both and it was the reward for that hike to the top. We stayed there for a while and did not want to come down off of that mountain. Even the winds were tickling us as we sat. I will never forget that day ever, nor did Florence.
Another time, we were camped along the PendOrielle river and it was very hot out. Where we were camped was close to an old bridge that once crossed the river. Only the cement pillars stood where the bridge once was. Now, at this time i will point out that the river is very deep and can run very fast or meander depending on whether they have released any water from the dams along the river. This day, the river looked a little lower and the spot where we would cross the river looked kind of tempting. There was an old road across the river on the other side and it seemed that every time we came across a road less travelled, we wanted to know where it went. A bizzarre wild goose chase usually would entail such decisions. Yet, on this day we decided to swim across the river at this very narrow spot where the old bridge once stood. After a few minutes of checking the ebb and flow, we decided we would cross. “Maybe we should shapeshift into a fish to cross, she said”. I chuckled and then i said to her. “Pick your favorite water being and visualize yourself swimming like that, mind over matter”. It was a deal. We got quiet and did our visualization and then we dove into the water. One had to swim rather quickly in order to not get taken down by the current. However, drowning was not an option so i became otter and swam as though i was almost skimming along the water. Within what felt like seconds, i was across the current and i dragged myself onto the river bank. To my amazement when I looked back, Florence was gone. I began to panic as i watched the river carry her down stream. She had screamed at first and then just swam and floated along with the current until it spat her out around 3 kilometers down stream.
I got right back into the river and skimmed across. I got into the truck and raced along the dusty mountain road to find her. After about 10 minutes i could see this figure walking along the road, almost staggering. I pulled over and was about to get out of the truck to help her in, when she raised her hand and told me to leave her, she was walking back to camp. There was an angry determination about her walk back to camp. She was mad and i was not going to argue with her. I waited for about an hour and then she emerged from the dusty road and back to camp. I ran and gave her a hug and asked if she was ok. Yes, she was fine, but she had made a huge mistake and it almost cost her her life. When she visualized herself crossing the river she used dolphin and as she went under like the dolphin, the current ripped her away like a leaf going downstream. After being dragged down that river Florence was determined to walk back to camp and to walk it alone. I was utterly amazed at her stamina and her heart and i gained a lot of respect for her that day.
There is always a down side to things and my last story today is about the down side. We decided to do some early autumn camping. The weather was warm and the autumn air hung heavy with the change of seasons. We had done a fews days of camping and some huckleberry picking and had just had a wonderful time. My daughter was 4 at the time and we had her camping with us too. Florence loved my daughter as if she was one of her own. She always said that my daughter had been her daughter in other lifetimes and Florence loved being around the innocence of children. So, after a wonderful day and an evening of fun and stories around the campfire, we said goodnight and went to sleep. I was in my tent with my daughter and Florence always slept in the back of her truck, looking up at the night skies was a favorite way to go to sleep when we camped. As long as she had her duvet and a pillow, she was good to go. Anyways, around 4:30 in the morning we woke up to screaming and crying from the box of the truck. I almost blew a hole through that tent i was up and outside of it so fast. Florence was screaming in pain. Her legs had began to cramp to such extremes that she wept and screamed and with each scream of pain i winced. I would try to sit her up but one leg would be numb while the other one felt like it was being crushed. This lasted for about an hour or so and then i got her back into the fornt of the truck and we packed up and went home. When we got back to her house Florence was ok, but something had changed in her, i could see it. Over time it became clear that the polio she suffered from as a child would come back as a syndrome that would devastate her physical body the rest of her life. We never camped on the PendOrielle after that day again. Our time there was over.
I have a thousand other stories between these ones. These are just some of the stories i can share about my time with Florence and our connection, our joys, our sorrows and our victories, which sometimes came disguised as losses. I will also point out that with every physical loss that Florence had, spirit recompensed her with wisdom and compassion. Adapting was not an option, it became neccessity. So today I wish for you all to have the ability to climb life’s mountains….the climb is hard at times but you get the best views from the top.
written by Webmaster Steven