The Geography of Hope


There is a healing quality to nature…..

No matter how hard I try, I find myself taking things for granted. Things that I would not expect. Everyday things. Like vision. I’ve been thankful for incredible views, for the ability to use my body to get to those views. But, I’m not sure that I’ve ever specifically said:’ I’m thankful for eyes that can see’. Since September 13th, I’ve been learning to be thankful for whatever eyesight I have.

Cataract surgery: everyone said ‘Piece of cake!’ ‘You’ll love it!’ ‘Nothing to it!’ Infection after cataract surgery is so rare, it’s barely mentioned. My surgeon had never had an infection in 20 years of surgeries. There is always a first time.

That Sunday,the third day after surgery, I woke with vision occluded. We called, drove an hour and a half and immediately began treatment. By that evening, I had lost vision in the eye, and since the retina specialist was unavailable, my excellent surgeon stood up to the plate and pushed a needle into my eye. Twice. The third needle came the following day when the retina specialist returned from Glacier National Park. (Even eye doctors have to get out into the wilderness.)
Since then, Fred has been driving me to eye doctors, sometimes twice a day. We were finally given a reprieve of no eye doctors for two whole weeks.

IMG_3456Wildness has always been a place of renewal, and the two places that have most renewed my soul and spirit are the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the red rocks of southern Utah.
We packed the truck, loaded the cats into the new trailer, (now known as the B.A.T.—Big Ass Trailer), and headed south. The Needles district of Canyonlands was in our sights.


Mornings of tea and journaling morphed into afternoons of mostly gentle hiking with a few longer days thrown in. Evenings included listening to Fred accompany new friends on his guitar.


These views sustain me. Knowing that ‘out there’ exists gives me strength. Knowing that I am not in charge, that others have their priorities that do not include me nourishes my soul.


My sight gradually improves, but my soul and spirits are immeasurably healed by time in the wildness of the redrock desert. I can persevere.


13 thoughts on “The Geography of Hope

  1. Laura Nix

    Thank you for both your words and drawings. I have come into the realization of nature’s renewal capabilities later in my life. Chasing a toddler, then small child out in nature frankly just didn’t do it for me. Now selfishly I get out for me. All that you said is true. I want to never take for granted the beauty around us, or fail to appreciate the healing & refreshment it offers the soul.


  2. Laura: Better late than never! That ‘selfish’ part really isn’t selfish. One becomes a better person for taking care of one’s self. And you can share your happiness with others, which makes for a life of joy. Thank you for your comments.


  3. Ted Kusmierski

    Julianne, I hope you are fully recovering your sight.
    Hospital infections are becoming a tremendous risk. I see that both of us are for banning antibiotic use in factory farming and other misapplications.


    1. Hi Ted: we don’t know where the infection originated. It is a bacteria that everyone has on their skin. So…. I am thankful for the healing power of wilderness. Thanks for your concern.


  4. This was so beautifully written Julianne. I love your art journaling and have been doing a bit of that myself these days. Sending positive thoughts your way for complete healing of your eye.


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