It is good to take a few days away, where you can’t be reached with casual day-to-day communications. A few days when your job is to breathe in the mountain air and smell of wildflowers, and see the beauty in distant mountains and up close in the intricate pattern of dew drops on wildflowers.
We just returned from Paradise.
Every year we go to Paradise on Mount Rainier for several days. Every year it is the same, but every year it feels different as well.
Some of that is the way the season plays out, was there a large snow pack? was spring early or late? Is the weather hot or cool, clear or cloudy? Is there smoke from wildfires?
But some of it is what we bring to the mountain inside us.
This past year has seen several changes in our lives, including the death of two people dear to us and a great deal of upheaval from other sources. I am not gifted at dissimulation, and when asked how I was, I said “okay”. It was an honest answer, but it seemed to surprise the asker. I realized that the expected answer was probably “great!” After all I was in a magical place with good friends.
As I walked things out I realized that if I was truly”great!” after the events of the past year I might be considered a bit of a sociopath. In days of yore we had rituals for the loss of loved ones, including periods of time set aside for grieving, you wore black to let folks know that you were in mourning, so they realized that you weren’t “great!”
The meadows worked their magic on me. I can’t say that I went up “okay” and came back “great!”, but I did come back okay with being “okay” for now.
We go to Mount Rainier to stay at Paradise almost every summer. It is a place that is both the same and different every year. Mostly one goes up from Paradise to the higher elevations with meadows of wildflowers and unimpeded views of The Mountain. Last year we took a loop hike from Paradise down to Reflection Lakes and Narada Falls.
The combination of woods and lakes and waterfalls with some mountain views has a charm of its own: a bit gentler and less stark than the mountain all on its own. The hike is also a bit less strenuous than the ones to the higher elevations (the down side is that it is downhill going out and uphill going back so the hard part is at the end of the day). The Road Taken