Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let's Get Back to Nature

For a while now I've been feeling the need for a "nature" fix. You wouldn't think this would be too hard to manage as I'm fortunate enough to have lovely trees and gardens in my own yard, a pasture full of cows just a block down the road, a copse of fir trees kitty corner to the side of our yard. Even more convenient, I'm only a 30 second car ride or a ten minute walk from the edge of real honest-to-goodness, get-lost-in-it wilderness. But it's not that easy. Life is busy. There are distractions.

Everything came to a boil for me the other day, stirred up by all the treasure hunting shows I mentioned in my last post. Yes, I only had three days left to do a month's worth of work before I ran out of time and have to leave for San Diego. Yes, I was already behind schedule because I felt under the weather last week. But I decided that I'm always behind schedule and there's no way to get a month's worth of work done in three days anyway so, what the heck!

I recruited William to be my wilderness partner for a day of rock hunting. Or if we didn't have any luck with that, then just wandering along a stream. My expectations for the trip were low, I just needed to get out in the woods. He wasn't excited about spending his "one and only day of summer vacation" (he started a summer school class today) with his mom. But I wasn't willing to go out into the wilderness alone and he was, if not enthusiastic, at least willing to be cheerful about his forced companion job.

It turned out that William didn't actually have the day off, he had to be back for weight training by early evening, so we just went a few miles out of town where I decided to investigate a road that I'd never driven, although I knew it led off along a local trail and campground. A quarter mile off the highway the road turned into a one lane, gravel, fire road but thanks to the Subie's all wheel drive, we were able to persevere.

Our first stop was at an open rocky hillside on the up grade of a mountain. I got out of the car and wandered around looking for rocks. I didn't find any that seemed to want to come home with me, but I discovered a whole tribe of "stone people" living there and spent time taking photos. They're worth a post of their own so I'll save them to show you here or over at Laume's Studio on another day.

William always finds a more active form of interacting with the world and before long he'd set about creating stacks of rocks all over the hillside. It looked tres cool although the sun was still high in the sky, making the piles almost shadowless, so it was difficult to take a decent photo of them.

Here's a picture of one of the shorter piles. I like how it looks like a squat little figure placidly sitting there watching William building off in the distance.

When William got tired of building rock spires, he started on another endeavor. You've heard of a Shoe Tree? Well, William made the first ever (I presume) Rock Tree.

Here's a close up of it.

When William finished creating his art, we continued, up and over a mountain ridge until we arrived at a fork in the road and a small creek. William found this throne. I love this photo.

He walked tightrope style along a fallen tree to investigate out of sight for a bit, while I wandered along the creek. I found a small dark agate. Not an amazing specimen but still, I found an agate, that made the trip worthwhile.

Except for the mosquitoes, it felt so great to be out in the woods. I kept thinking "why don't I come out here more often!?" I was reminded of a woman I knew who lived in a beautiful home with an ocean view. From their house it was perhaps a quarter mile down a road that made a T with the Pacific Ocean. There was even public access and a parking lot right there. We came to visit and of course stopped at the beach and she said she hadn't bothered to visit it for years. YEARS! I remember thinking I would never take such a great treasure for granted but apparently I do. No matter how scenic the view, driving by the trees and river and chapparal and mountains every day isn't the same as getting out of the car, walking around, and interacting with them. (Although I still think I'd be on the beach at least every week if I lived close to it!)

Here is some manzanita, Douglas Firs rising in the background. The manzanita leaves were backlit by the sun and looked like gold coins floating on the hillside.

After eleven windy, dusty miles we reached Goumez Campground on the Susanville River. It was very picturesque. It was also completely deserted. William had taken a mistep at the creek and soaked one of his shoes so he chose to stay in the car listening to music, Green Day shattering the wilderness quiet, while I went down to the river.

I saw this fellow laying in the river and wondered if he was dead, he stayed under the water for so long. I threw some pebbles his way to see if I could get him to move. After the fourth or fifth rock he got tired of having rocks thrown at him and turned to swim directly towards me. I didn't know if he was poisonous or not so when he got just a few feet away and put his head out of the water to look RIGHT AT ME, clearly more annoyed than curious, I decided it was a good time to leave.

It's a great time of year to see mountain flowers as this is the greenest you'll ever see these dry mountains. I didn't stop and take photos of them all because I didn't want to push William's goodwill too far. Most of the flowers are amazingly small and fragile looking for growing in such harsh conditions. Except these, which I call Mule's Ear but I don't know if that's what they're really called. They're huge and bloom everywhere in late spring. The hills around the campground were literally carpeted with them.

If you click to open up this last photo, you can probably see the small flowers in the foreground a bit better. I liked this tree stump on the edge of a large meadow which was our last stop. It looked like a portal into the faery world or perhaps a place someone would hide a bag of gold and then, as stories like this often go, never return to claim it. Just before I took this photo, I saw a... I think it's called a skink. It looked like a short, fat snake but it was really a legless lizard. The front half of it was green and the back half of it was blue! William was bummed he didn't get out of the car fast enough to see it before it disappeared beneath a pile of old branches.

Just after the meadow, the batteries on my camera gave out, we arrived at a paved road (the road went through and came back out on another highway) and it was time to get back to civilization, food, and weight training.

The afternoon was physically tiring but oh so spiritually rejuvenating! It convinced me I need to try harder to spend more time outside with the elements this summer, whether it's more time in the woods or on the beach, or just having tea outside or weeding in the garden. We drain our own batteries when we spend too much time away from the natural world. Our computers, televisions, cars and the like are all brilliant accessories in our lives but they are all things that take energy from us, they don't share energy with us. We need to reconnect more often with flowing water, fragrant breezes, patient trees and ancient rocks in order to recharge our reserves living energy.

One last photo - here are the rocks I brought home. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary, although I found a pretty rose quartz. Just different colors, textures, and patterns that caught my eye.


Blogger Kirsty said...

Wonderful post, Laume! totally in sync with how I've been feeling lately. Spending lots of time in my gardens lately and that rejuvenates me, too. Thanks for sharing your adventure! Cool about the skink, too!

6:40 PM  

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