Friday, August 6, 2010

Stairway to Heaven

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least… sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields….” ~Henry David Thoreau in “Walking”
As I drove up the mountain on Saturday evening, returning from Seattle, I put my arm out the window of the truck to feel the cool, fresh air. It was 88 degrees at the airport in Ontario when we landed. It was about 74 at home. I shut off the truck when I pulled up to the cabin, got out, and listened. Yes. The water was still running in the stream. Here is my reward for all the snow I shoveled and dug out of and drove through this past winter; the stream has not gone underground this summer as it usually does. Water still spills over rocks, and I fall asleep at night directly under an open window, hearing the music it makes as it dances down the canyon.
The morning after my return home, I climbed down into the canyon and hiked up the stream. This is where I find tranquility. Rarely does anyone else hike the stream bed. This summer, because the stream is still running, I simply walk up the rocks—a natural staircase to heaven, if you will—letting the water flow over my feet and legs, stooping to splash water on my arms if the temperature soars too high. You would think the water would be ice cold, but not so. The effect of shallow water running along over hot rocks is sort of the reverse of pouring your tea over ice cubes; the snowmelt loses its biting edge and becomes just cool, like water from the garden hose.

As I walk on this particular morning, I stop to watch a hummingbird feed from wild red columbine. Overheard, a red shafted flicker lets me know he is wary of my presence, though the hummer doesn’t seem to mind. A huge yellow and black butterfly drifts by—papilionidae—the “swallowtail” butterfly that was a magical creature to me in my childhood… and still is. Farther up the stream, I stop for a drink of water, setting the backpack beside the stream, and I nearly tread on an alligator lizard as I step back into the water. He is magnificent as he suns himself, and I watch him until he becomes self-conscious and scuttles under a rock.
Finally, I reach The Flat Rock, a huge boulder that I climb up on to rest and eat lunch. The stream runs over half of it, so I sit on the smooth dry side, the water flowing just inches from me. As I sit, I can look down to the valley. I hear nothing but birdsong over the sound of the stream on this brilliant day. There is nothing jarring or grating or frightening or distracting, nothing to dismay or sadden me. Just the sunshine on my shoulders, the scent of pine and wildflowers, a soft mountain breeze… and my cool, wet feet.

1 comment:

  1. "That"was a cooling journey... thanks.. I needed that,, :)