[POEM] among the saplings 

among the saplings

who knows how far I’ll get today
I have a morning coffee date with a beautiful woman
but I just want to explore this area of the forest I’ve never been
except once, a long time ago
I walked through the old growth with a friend
falling in love with each step of our hiking shoes.

now I’m here a decade later
uncertain of most things
but hopeful about it all
the joy I have is relentless
it keeps me going
allows me to stop at the spring
to listen to the water roar under rocks
like a distant highway or plane flying far above the clouds
and the rush of the water emerging from underground
carving its own path down the mountain
a path of least resistance

because the water is wiser than any of us
we hack away at boulders with kitchen knives
dig at the earth with spoons
expecting miraculous discoveries or untold stories
sometimes it’s worth stopping
your forward momentum
to listen to the mountain springs
even if it means less miles
and a slower pace

I love to run in the woods
feet pounding quickly over rocks and tree roots
but I need this too
to sit among the maple sapling and budding ferns
tucked in the side of a mountain

/ / /

Gina Thompson
26 April 2017
Greenwood Spur, SST
Alan Seeger, Rothrock State Forest

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climbing through the ring of clouds on a mountain


This morning my friend talked on his radio show a bit about his own personal religious journey. The metaphor he used to conceptualize this religious journey was a mountain with a ring of clouds around it, at various levels. Here’s how he described it (I’m going to paraphrase his words, but it’s mostly a direct quote):

[this journey is] a mountain that is encircled by clouds at various heights. And when you’re at the base of the mountain there are the clouds right above you and you can’t see anything up the mountain. You can really just see what’s right around you. The totality of possibility is obscured from your view. For a lot of people, they just live at the base of the mountain. It’s a pretty comfortable place, there’s no arduous climbing. But for some folks they want to climb through the clouds, up the mountain, to find something else. And so they start climbing up.

When I heard this analogy I thought it applied also to our general life journey. You may have a specific journey, like my friend’s religious journey. But it also might just be all of the little journeys in your life — the growth (or lack thereof) you allow yourself to experience. Over the years of my adult life, but especially in the last 3+ years, I feel like I’ve really shifted my mindset to sitting comfortably at the base of the mountain to wanting to climb and discover what is beyond each ring of clouds. 

My journey is often difficult — I’ve faced a lot of personal demons and the demons of others. It’s emotionally taxing. It’s heartbreaking. But my journey has also been so overwhelmingly beautiful. There’s been so much that I have discovered about myself, about those that I love or have loved, and about my own inner desires and fulfillment. I’m not afraid to climb the mountain. Well, I take that back. I’m fucking terrified. Each time I climb through another ring I’m absolutely petrified at what I might discover and how I’ll deal with that discovery. I have to convince myself not just to turn around and return to base camp. Like my friend said, it’s pretty comfortable there. But I know there’s nothing down there for me. The base is not where I belong and it’s not what makes me happy and it’s not where I feel as though I’m manifesting my full potential as a human being. So I continue to climb despite the fear of the challenge ahead.

My friend discussed further why it is that, for him, he continues his journey. And I liked what he had to say, so I’m going to quote him here. (Again, I’m cleaning up some dangling “rights” and “you knows”, but it’s pretty much a direct quote.):

“it’s a cool journey…. these questions, these existential questions of who are we and why are we here, that people have been struggling with ever since we’ve been “we” – these questions are fascinating questions. And I think they are also fascinating questions juxtaposed against how we actually live our lives. Just working to make somebody else wealthier and spending our time we wouldn’t do if we didn’t have to. If it didn’t mean we’d otherwise starve we wouldn’t do half the things we do. And when you push that against “what is the purpose of this one shot of being alive that I get?” I think you end up in some really interesting places and a lot of times that place is a dense ring of clouds that you’re not exactly sure how to get out of. But it sure is an interesting trip and I sure am glad that all of you are taking it with me.”

A final thought: I think it’s important to find people who are willing to climb the mountain with you. It’s hard to do it alone. In fact, it’s even better if you can find a few people. And there’s nothing like conquering a big-ass mountain when you’ve got someone to share that experience with. Trust me. I know. 

So find your mountain and don’t be afraid of those ring of clouds. Once you burst through you’ll be grateful for the journey and it will give you the strength and courage to break through the next ring.

I love you keep going,

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[POEM] it’s the ring of clouds around my mountain


it’s the ring of clouds around my mountain

it’s a color mostly used to describe
the expression of emotion
a morning tucked under blankets
the weather right now outside the window
of these Central Pennsylvania valleys
it’s watching my mother in quiet contemplation
it’s the sound of fog on the Mid-State Trail
clouds thick with emotion
rarely it’s a feeling in my heart
but sometimes
like sometimes lately
but there is beauty in it
the sadness, the color
it’s most beautiful in the forest
juxtaposed with the vibrant greens
against the backdrop of blue
it’s in the name of one of my favorite songs
it’s the matter in between what’s black and white
(in theory, because nothing ever is)
it’s me on this day, unsure of what to do next
stay where I am or climb this mountain
it’s knowing I must climb
through this ring of clouds
to discover the new parts of me
and the new parts of you

/ / /

Gina Thompson
25 April 2017
State College

Freewrite based on the WordPress Daily Prompt: Gray

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[PHOTO] backyard discovery!

So this year I’ve been interested in seeking out Morels in the forest since I’m out there so much. I made one attempt to “hunt” for them last week with no luck. Today I hanging out in the backyard, sitting in a chair, looking out over the mountains and what happens to be right below me?


I immediately took a picture and sent it to friends.

I was going to leave it to let it grow bigger, but Little Grubby Hands aka my 5-year-old ended up “accidently picking it” so now we have it in the kitchen, ready for nom noms.

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[POEM] seeking mountains


seeking mountains

after our short walk in the woods
my failed attempt to find Morels
you remarked on how beautiful this forest is
I agreed, mentioned that after traveling and hiking a lot of the continent and other corners of the world

this is the most beautiful

you might not have agreed to that exactly
but said you always preferred the mountains to the valleys 

while most people retreat to beaches for vacation
you and I seek mountains to climb and waters to paddle
in fact, in twelve years I don’t think we’ve ever vacationed at the beach
and our ocean visits have been by-products of other destinations:
the Oregon coast driving from Seattle to San Francisco
Long Island on a weekend in NYC
Rockport on a trip with our Boston friends
Monterey Bay while visiting your sister

there are others I’m certain that I can’t remember
but I do know you and I have never settled our chairs under the shade
sunk our feet into the sand
instead, we’ve laced up our hiking boots
peeled off sweaty socks after each hike
hoisted 40lb packs on our backs
single-portaged a canoe through the Canadian wilderness
pumped water out of glacial streams and northern lakes
we don’t rest on vacation, do we?
we explore and see what new terrain we can find

even now, with the littlest Bit, when adventures are hard to come by, we try
take it down a notch so she can enjoy
the discovery of mountains
the sounds of moving water
the calm of paddling waters

let the others rest
stretch out on blankets and chairs
burn their skin in the unforgiving sun
while we find shade
among the pines and oaks and elms and birch trees
always seeking higher ground
always looking for new mountains to climb
and new waters to paddle

/ / /

Gina Thompson
23 April 2017
Bellefonte PA

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[POEM] when the rain started

when the rain started

yesterday was all headache all day
alternating ice packs
cancelled plans
I went to bed early
awoke from a dream about ticks
but also a flash of lightning
and a very distant rumble
the wind began and that breeze
oh my god that breeze
flowing over my body felt so good
and it started to rain, just a smidge
some more lightning and closer rumbles
and I thought how lucky I was
to be awake to hear the rainstorm begin
the crescendoing of sounds
to lull me back to sleep
to dream of more pleasant things
like running up mountains
and through streams
and bouldering up rocks
laughter and tight hugs
dreams that carry me through

/ / /

Gina Thompson
21 April
Bellefonte PA

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Hiking the Aurlandsdalen

Hiking the Aurlandsdalen

for Stacy

Today I spent my morning looking at pictures and watching videos 

From a decade ago

Because I’m working on this love story, you see 

And it needs pictures. 

I see them in my mind and I know we have them 

On various computers and hard drives 

Today I found us hiking in Norway. 

Finse to Bergen, glacier to fjord 

We were so young and silly

I was convinced we would die – no cell phone, giant cliffs, a lack of experience (on my part) 

But you trusted me, my adventurous spirit, knew it would carry me through the doubt.

We didn’t die, as it turned out. 

But we did see a helicopter air rescue in the Norwegian mountains (not for us, thankfully)

We never found that animal pit

But we skied down snow fields, drank glacial water, hiked with free-range sheep (with bells), played music and drank beer with strangers, trekked on a multi-day journey through some of Mother Earth’s most breathtaking landscape. 

Tonight, after you booked the campsites for our vacation – friends and a national park and an ocean and miles of hiking trails –

I sat in your lap (like the old days) and told you about my morning spent time traveling 

Pulled up the photos on my laptop. 

There’s almost 200, plus videos. 

And you remarked on what a great trip that was

That hike was just one part of a summer-long adventure in Scandinavia.

You told me we had to show the photos to the littlest one. 

She’s only five but wants to “practice” hiking so she can go on long adventures with Mama and Daddy 

So let’s practice together, and find more adventures, and create more memories. 

I’ve got a better camera now and the videos won’t be so grainy. 

We’ve got a new adventure seeker in our family

And you and I have a sense of wonder that never should go dormant for too long 

/ / /  

Gina Thompson
18 April 2017
Bellefonte PA

Click on the image for more photos of our hike in Norway! (August 2006)

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(poem) The Journey by Mary Oliver

I saw this posted on Facebook, because it’s National Poetry Writing Month. Mary Oliver is my favorite poet and I’m sure I’ve read this poem of hers before. But today it really resonated with me and I want to share it with all of you. Because I love you. And I want you to keep going.

The Journey
Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

/ / /

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these stolen moments of rediscovery 

these stolen moments of rediscovery 

I can hear the peepers here too

They are faint, drowned out by the sound of the stream 

Water rushing over rocks 

I’m in the middle of nowhere, in northern Pennsylvania 

Tucked inside the forest

In a house built with mostly two hands and a whole lot of knowhow. 

Today we went for a short hike off the windy road 

Along the Quehanna, alongside the water

Flowing quickly down the mountain 

It felt good to have another soul there with me

To have THAT particular soul

Discoveries and moments 

We don’t steal, because we are given 

Well sorta.. with a kid it’s always hard 

So maybe yes, we did steal this one 

Just the two of us: me hiking fast and taking pictures 

You telling stories and echoing my delight at being in the woods. 

I know it’s hard these days. 

I’m not easy to deal with. 

The ebb and flow of emotions. 

But you continue to love me unconditionally 

You trust me still somehow 

Despite me not deserving it  

You wait patiently for my return 

For my discovery of you, us, our family 

Through so much of your own heartache 

Through much of my own

And it’s hard to think of anyone I’d rather continue this journey with

Especially in these stolen moments of rediscovery

/ / / 

Gina Thompson
15 April 2017
Emproium PA

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[POEM] naked thoughts 

Lying naked on the bed

Post shower, post trail run

That satisfied exhaustion 

A deep inhale 


A cat sleeping beside me 

A quiet house, except for the music I choose 

Melodies that flow through the room

Lyrics that vibrate through my heart

Songs that never get old

Just because I’m sad doesn’t mean I’m not happy 

These moments, the ones we steal, that we won’t get back 

Today in the woods I ran hard and long

Laughed and enjoyed the moments 

I stole for myself 

For myself 

For myself 

I’ve always loved that about me 

That I can live and love the solitude 

Friendships are deep and pure

Love flows in and out of the space between them

But being comfortable alone 

Is just as necessary for the soul to thrive 

Here, naked on my bed, alone

Deep inhale, exhale

The slightest of breeze flowing through the open window

I can be happy in sadness, don’t doubt it 

Because I live with so much unadulterated joy inside me 

It’s hard not to feel so intensely the sadness 

But also the moments of sweet bliss and simplicity. 

/ / /

Gina Thompson
14 April 2017
Bellefonte PA

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