It was quiet last night for a fleeting few moments and my body eased fully into itself and slid deeper into my spot on the couch. I have spent endless nights this past year fidgeting and trying to find a rhythm. Under dim lights, with Yoda by my side, I have been slowly trying to re-ignite the fire in me that usually comes effortlessly in spring. This year has been full of landmines at every turn and one might think I’d be getting better at spotting them. But I’m not.
I also read a friend’s writing prompt last night and something told me it would be the perfect exercise for me to try, so I dug in. Here’s the prompt: (shared by my friend Mary Bucklew, from her writing mentor, Laura Davis)
PROMPT: Write an ode, a love song to your imperfections. No self-criticism or judgment allowed. Revel in your imperfections, your messy piles, your unfinished lists, that self-improvement program that never quite got off the ground.
And here’s what I think:
I’m not young anymore. My next birthday will be #62 and there is little fanfare that comes with that celebration. (Wait, there is one big thing: I’ll get my lifetime Senior National Parks pass!) The truth is, I am carrying an extra 10 pounds that makes everything fit a little funny. I don’t sleep well and mornings can be a bitch.
My frame has grown softer and rounder, but so has my heart. I try to look past the prickly parts of others with the same care I’ve taken in looking past the prickly parts of my self. My eyes are less sharp but I’m learning that seeing life a little blurry has it’s advantages.
And who cares if my pants are too snug or if the tee-shirt that “makes me feel good about me” is frayed? Wrinkles, silver-white hair, crooked fingers … and all the stories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I love the things I love with a passion. I suppose that even if it doesn’t always look like it, it’s at the root of everything I do. Love, that is.
Sometimes I wake Yoda out of a deep sleep because I need to snuggle all that cuteness up. I let chores go undone because I hear a wren in the neighborhood and I need to see it. I eat no lunch and stuff myself at dinner because Kelly loves to cook and I love that about her so much. My worries and agonies and tantrums and mistakes, all for love somehow.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
And speaking of love …
In spring, that first hike is always a challenge and in the woods I’m gripped with fear at every sound. Luckily this one is a waterfall hike so I hear the crash and rush of early spring run-off most of the short way in. On my drive in I passed several elk on the road and saw a blur of a small wild thing pass in front of me. A fox? I couldn’t tell. I think of bears here, knowing they are coming out of hibernation. I’m armed with bear spray and the safety is off.
A friend recently told me of a bear attack at Enchantment Park in Chelan county. The mama bear charged without warning and the woman who was attacked punched it right in the face and it scampered off. For every incident like this there are ten thousand stories of safe passage. I remind myself I am one of the ten thousand.
It takes awhile, but with every step I am reminded that fear is not my natural state and I easily slip into the place that I am familiar with … the state of wonder and curiosity.
I start my day in an empty parking lot at the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mount Rainier. In a few weeks this lot will be full and cars will be parked a mile up and down the street, but today is mine. The trail to Silver Falls is snow free and with just a few trees down it’s the perfect leg stretch. The spring run-off has the falls raging. The water is like green froth and ice and the air is divine.
Next stop, the Grove of the Patriarchs. The bridge was damaged back in 2021 and this will be the third summer season without that walk among giants. It’s a suspension bridge and it looks like the supports for the cables were unearthed on both ends. The bridge buckled and twisted and the slats followed. I haven’t heard of a date for repair and reopening. I would guess it’s become an expensive engineered fix that needs a good chunk of budget.
Western red cedar and giant Douglas fir trees, with their droopy cones hanging from the branches, line the path. Then Western Hemlock with their small cones covering the path. I hear both Pacific-slope and Hammonds flycatchers but see neither. I always wonder why there aren’t more birds here.
Both Hwy 410 and Cayuse Pass both reopened this past week so I drove through fog and clouds to Tipsoo Lake. I forgot my spikes, but the deep tracks made me think it was for the best. I navigated what I could of the trail but settled for a few pictures as the sky turned blue in pockets above. Above freezing but below forty felt so good!
And my very first pika! Love these guys!
On the way home I drove to the White River campground for a peek at the mountain. Sunrise Road remains closed until early July but some trail is accessible at the far end of the campground. Still snowy, so a no-go for me.
Last stop was the Owyhigh Lakes trailhead. Bear scat at the trailhead gave me pause so I didn’t venture far. Again, snow begins early along the trail and I think a few more warm weeks will help.