He told me we were “Going into God’s Country” as we topped the pass. And in my youth, I couldn’t take in enough; the peaks, switch back trails, and the heavenly forest smell.
“See God’s country, smell and hear it.” I was still as elk cows chirped in the dark old growth timber. “Or even feel it.” He whispered. A bull bugling in the aspen flats was more inspiration than needed to wrest the creativity within.
Oh, the years have passed but not without living. Often I climb that saddle, sometimes “into God’s country;” sometimes “from God’s country.” Whether in solitude or with kindred spirits, many steps in rain and snow, deadfall and bogs, with roots and branches have fulfilled the growth within. Campfire stories share with all, these memories of passage.
“We’re in God’s country now,” he gleamed as we pitched the tent and high lined the stock. The crackling campfire and frying trout warmed both the body and soul. “Heaven,” I offered.
She urged me, “Go with him this time…and a few more. I’ll go later.” Those wonderful trips were packed with love and adventure. Many times a bull, buck or bear topped off the return. God’s country came to life within me and in my work. The full understanding of more than the backcountry returned with me every climb over that mountain pass.
In the October of the last, his greatest yearning was to return to God’s country, this time without his rifle. I had noticed a photo of mom in his saddle bag, so tenderly wrapped in his scarf. I will cherish always as we headed up the pass, his last farewell so subtly given… “Son, I’m going to God’s country.”
Yet, I travel often the saddle and wonder how it all passed. The seasons have come full circle now and I return overjoyed with daughter and grandkids. And whether in my own solitude or joined by the rest, it has become a necessity to pause and reflect upon this royal pass and send a loyal message…
“Sweetheart, we’re going into God’s country now.”
© Copyright, 2014 Ken Mayernik Bronzes