- Last night, 4100 ft. elevation, on an unmarked forestry road -
The wind picked up, ushering in a swift and swirling end of day. I now sit in the Jeep writing, marveling that not ten minutes earlier I had been walking, bare armed, in the last streaks of sunlight. Now the trees around me sway and creak, the wild flowers bend double, and I'm fairly certain not a mosquito is left buzzing even though I still bear their presence in angry red dots on my forearms.
Earlier today I said to myself, "If I do not stand upon a mountain, feel the open wildness around me and the sheer room of heart, I will surely perish." Dramatic words no doubt, but one of the joys and trials of being me is that such words hold a core of truth. I was afraid of perishing, right there on the hardwood floor with the sounds of the city and worried dog tongues as my only witnesses of passing. And so at the most unlikely time of afternoon to begin an adventure I filled two water bottles, a jar of granola, and the gas tank, then drove east. No plan. No destination. Nothing other than "mountain" and 'solitude" and "I'll know it when I get there."
Now I drive in silence with the windows partly down, even after the rain starts. I need to hear the rush of rivers under the bridges, to smell the air so green and ripe that it makes me aware I'm too clean, too well scrubbed, in laundered clothes and mascara. The cold is creeping up the valley but I want to shed all my clothes and let this fierce wind perfume me in mountain air. But instead I open the windows all the way and let the rain stain my sketchbook, my face, my hair. I try so hard to remember scents, but a scent is so far removed from words that it is hopeless to try and explain it.
These evenings leave an imprint of an experience. When I wake tomorrow I may remember the long whistle of the birds on the far side of the valley, the handful of salmonberries I crunched on, the stillness in the woods that let me know I was the largest mammal around, the fog that held 1500 feet below me. But I won't be able to recall that scent, for it only belongs in a place such as this.
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