Life’s enchanted cup sparkles near the brim. Lord Byron
Enter the enchanted woods, You who dare. George Meredith
It felt magical, that walk home around the block from Joy Center last Thursday evening. The air was balmy and the moon, filtered by a thin layer of clouds, lent a warm glow to the trees and to the road and to the sky above me. And as I looked up, I wasn’t certain what I was seeing. Was it clouds that were dancing across the nighttime sky or was it something else radiating out in wispy pinwheel patterns — the northern lights, perhaps? And what was that sound that I was hearing carried in on the slight breeze? It was a howling sound, I was sure — coyotes howling at the moon and the pin-wheel dancing sky. And my heart, it was a happy open-hearted song it was singing and I felt in love with it all, the howling coyotes, the dancing sky, the air I was breathing. I felt in love with life, rapturously in love with life, and with chocolate, too. Yes, I felt in love with chocolate too. Not just any chocolate. Pure organic fair-trade chocolate, in roasted beans offered in a pottery bowl, and in a steaming blend of water, cocoa powder, and cayenne pepper served in handmade mugs, and in concoction after concoction of chocolate nibs and cocoa blended with spices and honey and coconut in exotic variations. I was filled with chocolate as I walked that short magical route from Joy Center to home.
And was it the chocolate that made me feel so good, so open, so appreciative of life? Adonna, our professor/facilitator and magician-extraordinaire of chocolate concoctions at the evening’s Chocolate as Medicine workshop had told us that, along with the antioxidants and the long list of healing properties, chocolate was filled with endorphins and I certainly was filled with rich dark pure chocolate. So maybe it was the chocolate. Maybe I was on a chocolate high. Whatever it was, it stayed with me through my short night of sleep and onto the plane in the wee hours of the next morning as my husband Cam and I flew west to Boulder, Colorado for a four-day adventure celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary. And Boulder is 5000 feet above sea level and the air is clear and sweet and the trails we hiked on each day took us through juniper and pine-scented forests and even higher into that clear thin air, and is that why the good-feeling stayed with me? Did the altitude take over when the chocolate wore off? Was it a Rocky Mountain High causing my euphoria? Was that the reason I was in love with my beating-in-my-ears heart and my huff huff huffing breath and my limber legs and my sturdy big feet that stepped from Rocky Mountain rock to Rocky Mountain rock? Was that the reason that I loved the blindingly blue sky and those snowcapped peaks more than words could ever say, why I loved that guy, too, the guy I call “my guy” who was hiking right in front of me? Was it the altitude that had my heart all a’flutter and my head filled with euphoria?
And I wonder about the Boulder evenings too. After our days of hiking, sun-soaked and fresh-filled with mountain air, my guy and I would head downtown, to Boulder’s pedestrian-only tree and sculpture-lined Pearl Street where the people promenade and the buskers perform their magic acts and the kids climb the rocks and scamper through the shooting-from-the-ground fountain. And it was here, in the midst of this hustle, that the five young men and women would take out their string instruments and in front of some store would begin to play. It was as good as chocolate. It was as uplifting as the upward thrust up those mountain trails. This music that washed through me in a glorious buoyant wave, swept me to a place where once again I was in love with it all: the yogi on the other side of the rock sculpture garden twisting himself into a pretzel and squeezing himself into a tiny box, in love with the scampering kids, the lovers walking hand in hand, the guy with the cardboard sign asking for money, the crowds of people, the full moon rising up above that sweeping sound. I’ve heard that violin music has the power to open your heart, and the full moon certainly can pull at the inner tides — and is that why I felt so good sitting on a bench on Pearl Street at the end of each day?
And who cares if it’s a chocolate high or a bout of euphoria induced by the thin air in the Rockies? Who cares if it’s the outward gift of a string quintet or the full-rising moon? Who cares what it is that sets are spirits flying ?!? Aren’t we supposed to feel good? Aren’t we supposed to sing with the coyotes and lift our eyes up to those pin-wheel spinning clouds and to the moon that is super full on a Saturday night? Aren’t we supposed to fill ourselves up with wonder, with pleasure, with rich-tasting high-in-antioxidant treats?!? Cam and I scrambled up the last hundred feet of jumbled rock to Lily Mountain’s ten-thousand-foot-summit, to its tiny cramped spectacular summit with its 360 degree view of snow-capped mountains and green valleys and the whole of Rocky Mountain National Park. And as we sat there on that cramped summit, eating our lunch, admiring the view, our eyes caught something in the air, hovering in the wind, something unexpected and unbelievable. It was a hummingbird fluttering in front of us, no flower in sight, no logical reason to be there. The Native Americans believe that the hummingbird is a sign of happiness, an invitation to open to pleasure. I’m glad to remember this gift that flew into our summit moment. I’m glad to accept its invitation. Pleasure is here for us in our foods, our music, in the very air that we breathe