Our Body, Our Home
I pass the uprooted pine that tells me I am almost halfway to the overlook. Its trunk hangs down the mountainside at a near 45-degree angle, exposing roots that cross the trail. Large, jutting rocks and compacted earth are enmeshed in their patterns. It is a sudden revelation of the hidden. As I climb I know that femininity is a paradox, both known and unknowable. The soil is dark regeneration, death and life unfolding, unspoken language emerging. Here, in my body blood becomes milk for my babies. I am cyclical, mind and body. I, we women, ensure life will continue on earth. We are wild, not in the word’s pejorative sense, meaning out of control, but in its original sense: we strive to live a natural life, one full of innate integrity and healthy boundaries. A wild woman is a woman in her natural state.
After ascending a series of steep switchbacks, I follow the trail as it runs along a north face into deeply shadowed green. The lushness here is a reprieve from the exposed outcrops. I’m propelled forward by my need to alchemize discord into harmony and soothe frustration. As I turn east, a deep ridge stretches out to my left. A sharp-shinned hawk cuts down through the blue sky above the trail, pausing in front of me before veering off into the pines.
How is it possible to describe what it is to be seen by a hawk? That its sudden appearance is the answer I seek? Some pulse of recognition between us releases my conflicts in meditation and strips me down to my essence. With so many blinking and unblinking eyes surrounding me I become lost in the present. Just as the pine is enough, and the hawk, in purity, I am an extension of the land.
Many women instinctively recognize in wilderness a direct connection to their feminine power. We know that continuance comes from our bodies, not only from human ingenuity. We know that it comes from harmonious living with all life: sustaining cycles and rhythms, their ceaseless struggle for equilibrium and the constant push and pull of entropy in ways so fine-tuned no human mind can grasp all of the individual parts, let alone the orchestrations they create together. We know that the power of life untamed can break and mend your heart.
Wilderness is our body. Wilderness is our home.
Utah’s Wild Women and Wild Lands
Utah is unique by its women’s history but also by its abundance of open land. We are poised to advocate for women thanks to the legacy of our suffrage sisters. We are poised to cultivate a woman-driven and woman-defined language about land and its value, that has everything to do with building community and grounding intention for the generations ahead — keeping promises to act as wise stewards of all living things in a way innate to women and with the wisdom of our female ancestors.
In wilderness, we find the freedom of our minds, a place of restoration where all, regardless of gender, race or nationality, can share in a collective beauty and expansiveness. If we lose wilderness we lose the creative powers of our own minds.
These are our questions to explore: How will we speak about our role in the rapid environmental changes our world is experiencing? How will we call for justice as the central voice of a harmonious, balanced society? What does the freedom of the open lands we have in abundance offer our psyches and souls? What are our tales? What conflicts and insights do we find? How do we connect our voices back to the authority and power of our suffrage sisters to move ahead, honoring a sense of place in both developed and undeveloped lands?
Cultivating Women’s Language
At the heart of my emerging voice was the belief that nature held the secret to harmony and unity, not just outside us, but inside us, no separation.
— Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds
The last leg from the saddle to the peak is much steeper and less defined. I am anxious for the reward of vistas: Grandeur Peak and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Gobblers and Raymond peaks to the East. Redolent of aspen groves the terrain transforms suddenly. I am surrounded by the singular white trunks of aspens filled with black, almond-shaped eyes that stare out in every direction. I am being witnessed as I am witnessing.