It’s been a while since we’ve been able to sleep under the trees and the stars; this summer has been a whirlwind of work, friends, and let’s not forget the wildfires in the PNW making going outside sometimes detrimental to your health. Micheal and I also both hate heat, bugs, and the throngs of people that come out with the sun. It’s the very start of fall now, and the crisp, clean, smoke-free air and the mountains were calling us out this weekend. I never really understood the popular phrase “The call of the Mountains” until I came out to the PNW. It really is a palpable call, almost audible if you’ve been away too long.
We set out to Mt. Hood on Saturday morning, drove around and explored some old forest service roads, as we normally do. We were able to find a little spot not far from the road, but tucked away into the woods enough to be secluded and invisible to the handful of cars that drove by all weekend. The sounds of the rambling creek only a stone throw away from our tent clenched this spot for us. I love going out without any plans to do anything; no big hikes, no significant exploration. Just unload, set up camp, pick a comfy rock by the river to read and drink a beer until the sun sets. The smell of the fresh sap, the sounds of the stream rushing by, watching the sunset into the trees puts me in a state of calm that you don’t think is really possible.
Just sit. Surrender to the forest and let it wrap you up.
Nature has a way of breaking down those barriers created by the constant need to feel productive, technology, and the myriad of other daily distractions. I love the long talks that Micheal and I have when it’s just the two of us and the girls in the tent. The little window of time when it’s too dark to read, but it’s still way too early to go to sleep is priceless. It may sound kinda bad, but when you have nothing else to do but talk to your partner, friend or family, I think the truths flow much more easily. Perhaps it’s that calm that from being in the middle of the forest, but even hard conversations are easier to get through. For me at least, I feel less defensive, and more at ease, and it seems like it’s easier to put those complex thoughts into words. I’d love to see some studies on the difference between conflicts resolution in a laboratory setting vs. in nature. Do these already exist? If not, then one of you neuro/social scientists out there should get on this! I would love to see the results.
I’ve never done an overnighter by myself yet, but even in the short times when Micheal and I do some exploring on our own, or when we find our own corners to sit and meditate in, I find it easier to be more at ease with myself. In the city, in the middle of the work week, it’s easy to lose yourself to multitasking, to the daily grind and packed schedules. When that’s all taken away from you, there’s a strange emptiness there. The first few times I went out, that emptiness was awkward for me. I’m one of those people who always have to be doing something or at least have something scheduled. With that gone, I had a hard time just being by myself, and finding peace with that. I’m getting better at this, and perhaps this weekend was one of the first times I’ve really felt at ease with this feeling, and even welcomed it. I’m really looking forward to the fall, the rain, and the snow.
If it’s been a while, get out there, heed the call of the mountains and get some of that good ol’ introspection. I hear it’s good for you.
P.S. Cherry on the cake: we saw a black bear driving out of the forest! They DO exist!