When life is full, when one foot keeps stepping in front of the other, certain images stick in the mind. When I think back on the last week it feels as if more than seven days have passed. I promised myself that I would not let my time in the Methow go by so swiftly that it would become lost in a jumble. I promised myself that I would pause and experience these things in a state of awareness. Or at least as much as I can muster.
Hiking up the West Fork of the Methow River trail, hearing the rush of water being pulled out of the mountains–it seems glad to go, a joyous sound as it surrenders to gravity. The trail passes through a forest that was burned in 2003. Rocks have tumbled down from the peaks–not much soil here. Without trees to shade the ground from the sun, heat radiates from the stony surface. One walks through warm air and the scent of roses rises up. These are Nootka roses (R. nutkana), as big as the palm of my hand, and fragrant. Sometimes the sunrise sky is this exact shade of pink. My busy mind stops to take this in.
Further up the river, trails people have stopped in a field of avalanche debris to have a discussion about chopping. It occurred to me that humans have been using axes since figuring out how to hit one thing with another. Stone axes evolved into the high carbon steel ones we use today. Some of us are deeply in love with this tool, and the possibility of mastering its technicalities. Looking out at my audience while I speak, I notice three or four of them looking across the river. Others standing near them turn to look. Obviously something interesting is over there. What is it? A moose, browsing through the green brush in the avalanche chute above. Where, where? At last it steps into my view–a big animal with a shiny dark hide. There is no mistaking the drooping snout and the small ears swiveling on top of the head. I smile at my first moose sighting in many years.
Hiking down another trail later in the week, hearing the growl of thunder for the first time this season. Felt the humidity that morning, warm moisture in the air. Cumulus clouds billow and grow, climbing and darkening to a heavy blue-gray. I’m in the truck driving when rain smacks the windshield and rain sweeps across the valley. Whooshing out of the downdraft, rain falls violently for a few minutes until the storm sweeps away. This happens every afternoon. Towering dark clouds, dramatic sky, sudden blasts of cold air and pelting rain.
These days on the march toward summer solstice, these feet stepping one in front of the other on the trail, these days and nights. These moments.
These moments make a life.