This Cusp Of Time

There’s a cusp of seasons, with moments when you don’t know what time of year it is. Yesterday was like that. If I closed my eyes, it could have been spring or fall. The air was cool and damp and smelled like earth. There were warm currents moving on the wind that took the chill off. It could have been the warmth of returning spring or a dying summer.

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The heavy rains lately have made the waters rise. The rivers are running full and fast. Waterfalls stream from rocks. The sound of water is everywhere. It’s the sound of spring and the sound of fall.

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The leaves have fallen. The bare branches could speak of new life barely starting to bud or the deep dormant sleep of coming winter.

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There’s wood smoke in the air. The scent could be from fires to take off the spring chill or flames to dry the fall dampness.

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I can stand there with eyes closed and imagine it to be whatever time I want it to be.

A time of beginnings or a time of endings. A time to think of new life or a time to remember life that has passed. In this cusp, I’m free to be in either world.

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So many of us are in this transition right now, this moment of pause where we stand, maybe slightly confused, maybe in grief, trying to figure out where exactly we are.

Where we have been.

Where we are going.

We stand in the middle of that bridge between, eyes closed, surrounded by rushing water and rising wind, and wait.

Maybe a little lost.

I don’t know if I’m waiting for what has been, or for what is coming.

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The Sunday Drive

Last Sunday we took our friend Jenny and went for a drive along some nearby logging roads. It brought back so many memories.

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Crossing Troublesome Creek on Sunday (using a bridge!)

Growing up, we often went for Sunday drives. If mom chose the location, it most likely would be driving the neighborhoods she grew up in. She’d reminisce and tell us stories about things like her dad getting drunk and throwing bread at her across the table. Or having to learn how to butcher rabbits. Or Aunty and the day she showed up. She saw their chimney fire, stopped to help them, also saw a single dad trying to raise a daughter, and stayed as their housekeeper. And once mom married and moved away, she became our surrogate granny.

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Aunty helping me play

Those drives weren’t too boring because I’d sit in the back seat and daydream adventures and my own stories. And if we were lucky, and mom and dad felt flush, we’d all get the treat of burgers.

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Mom at the cabin. 

When dad picked the Sunday destination, a lot of times we’d end up driving logging roads. Mom would pack a picnic lunch. Dad would bring the stack of gold pans. Us kids would get to sit on the tailgate of the truck as we slowly bounced our way up into the woods and mountains.

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Dad surveying flood damage

I daydreamed those drives, too, but the stories were different. They almost always involved me slipping off that tailgate, running away into the woods, finding some long-lost tribe of Native Americans, or some My Side Of The Mountain type, where I would live forever out there in the mountains.

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Bridal Veil Falls

So here I am, many years later, driving old logging roads with a mountain-kind-of-guy. At home where I always wanted to be. Still daydreaming through those woods though, making up stories as I bounce along in the truck.

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Jack’s Pass on Sunday

Rain

If you live in the Pacific Northwest you have to align with the rain. If you wait for a day without rain you’ll never breathe fresh air.

Yesterday, my sister said ‘let’s go for a walk in the woods!’. Off we went. My sister, my nephew, my great-niece, and her boyfriend. We didn’t have wet-weather gear; my sister was even in open, sandal-type shoes. We came back soaked. It was a fantastic family get-together.

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The same sister, on another day when she said ‘let’s go for a walk in the woods’

At one point my sister commented on how the mountains were hidden in the clouds. I told her I prefer them when it’s stormy, when you just get glimpses of the high peaks. When they are fully exposed on a clear sunny day, there’s no mystery, no magic, no unanswered questions. No dreams about what might be up there, no possibilities.

In other words, no stories.

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Looking toward Mt. Baring

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Looking toward Mt. Index, with a hint of Bridal Veil Falls

Many years ago we lived off-grid and generated electricity from a water wheel. This meant never-ending maintenance of the pipeline, which climbed the forested ridge. Dad and I (and any visiting family members) spent a lot of time out in the woods in all sorts of weather. I remember one time when the pipe broke and spewed creek water all night. When we reached it, there was a thick frozen waterfall from a tree branch where the pipe had shot water. It was like the tree had become one with the creek.

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We’d be out there either wet or freezing. Trying to hold onto tools, pipes slippery/slick, glue too cold, dropped screws in forest floor impossible to find within ferns and needles and water. Sometimes, miserable, we worked in silence just to get the job done. Some times we told stories.

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I’ve lost many screws, nails, and even hammers, in places like this.

One time, the ground gave way beneath my dad and he broke his leg. It was challenging getting him back down the steep trail in the rain. There was cussing involved. And fear.

I have laughed in the rain, shed tears in the rain, spent wonderful moments with close friends (and family), and also moments of precious solitude. Water always seems to be there, in the form of rain or snow, or just the whitewater rivers and creeks.

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The power of rain and river

As much as rain is a part of my life, I love the ending, after walking in the rain. Coming home to a hot fire in the wood stove and a tea kettle simmering on the top. Stripping wet clothes from clammy skin, and leaving them to steam by the fire. Slipping off soggy shoes or boots and placing them as close as possible to the heat. And then holding slightly blue hands over that heat.

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Or like I did one time, backing up to the wood stove to thaw and getting a bit too close. Steam and smoke are close kin and look a lot alike.

But I love that contrast from stepping out of the rain and coming in to the dry. I love the feeling of having been out in weather and not only managed it, but enjoyed it. I huddle by the wood stove and clutch that mug of hot tea, letting the steam warm my cheeks and realize that the ending sometimes is the best part of the story.