Today was a good Monday. I didn’t have to work, the forecast was for sunny and cold and I had the whole day ahead of me. Perfect.
I shut off my alarm before it could annoy me at 4:30 am, which in turn caused me to sleep a full hour longer than usual. My mornings are rough. The stiffness has settled overnight and the early hours are hard. I almost talked myself out of going anywhere today but instead I hopped in the shower and let the “hot-as-I-can-stand” water work its magic. Success ! At 7;10 I was out the door and on my way.
I had thrown everything in the trunk “just in case”. Snowshoes, extra boots, gloves, hat and my fully stocked backpack. I grabbed my smoothie and water, a banana and two Clif bars for the road. The plan was to drive to a little town in Lewis County called Mineral Washington. Population 202. It wasn’t a random choice. I recently applied for an artist residency at an old ” school-turned-retreat ” there. I had seen it in pictures and knew it was a lake town in the shadow of my beloved Mount Rainier. I’d been watching the forecast and I knew it had the makings of a good adventure. And so I set the GPS and I was off !
The school had been purchased outright by a Mineral School board member in 2013. The plan was to create an overnight artists residency and arts center. The building as it stands was built in 1947. I’ve never been inside, but today I was determined to see it with my own eyes. ( At least the outside. ) I’m hoping to have the energy of the place bring me good fortune as my art is, at this moment, being judged by a panel of fellow artists. I’ve never done anything like this. I’m both excited and terrified. Of both being accepted and being rejected. That’s pretty much the story of my life really.
Once I hit Graham, the snow was everywhere. The roads were clear but the trees held a nights worth of snowflakes. It was spectacular ! The clouds were pastel pink and blue and white. The mountain was hiding but I was hopeful. When I hit SR7 the highway took me through more stunning tree-lined paths to the turn off for Mineral. There the road was covered in compact snow and sand. Breathtaking, really.
I took it slow down the road past a church and a local market. As I nervously drove up a slight incline I saw the school ! Exactly like the photos. I snapped a couple pictures before I slowly drove back through town. I’m sure I seemed out of place there. slow, tentative and hanging my head out the window like a dog catching big gulps of air. I saw a nice couple heading out to walk and they smiled and waved. It’s a friendly place, to be sure. Whatever will be will be. It felt good to be there. Almost like a deja vu, where everything seemed familiar. I should be so lucky to think my spirit has been in this place before.
( Here are a couple pieces of art I submitted. )
I passed through Elbe as I headed back toward Auburn. I pulled in to see the beautiful church that sits just off the side of the road. I have only ever known one other thing about Elbe. It was the town that a good friend of mine died in the summer after high school. Now there is the memory of this beautiful church and steeple.
I stopped in Eatonville as I snaked through the town that had become familiar this past summer. I pulled over to find directions to the cemetery. Something about this day, that church and the overwhelming memory of Shelly let me know I should check in with her. I’ve been here many times over the years. I remember the funeral where her boyfriend sang a song by Bread. I remembered the burial in that small cemetery on the edge of town. I remember the rose that her father gave to me as he laid her to rest. Bless her. She was one of my favorite people and she was gone decades too soon. I’ll never forget her. This morning as I pushed the snow from her headstone and unearthed the wreath that lay beneath, I cried a little for all of the things she never got to see.
” She had joy, she had fun, she had seasons in the sun ”
I still have her graduation snapshot. If I get to spend time in Mineral this summer I’ll bring her with me. Next time I see her I’ll bring flowers.
I had one last stop before heading home: Dogwood Park. If the mountain is out, you can surely see it best from here. No such luck this morning but there are many more days ahead. Many more adventures to have. So much more life to live.