I’m back in the land of cell phone towers and speedy internet connections. I wrote this post last Friday in Jawbone, but was unable to upload it thanks to the weather and subsequent finicky web connection:
I’m thinking of all I did and didn’t do while here these two weeks. I went to bed last night and almost plugged my headphones in my ears to listen to the new Punch Brothers album we’re all obsessed with right now, but then I realized it may be my last chance to fall asleep to the sound of the creek for a while and decided against it.
As I was feeling irritated with myself for what I perceived to be lost opportunities while here, I was able to redirect and focus instead on all the wonderful things I’ve experienced, witnessed, taken part in since here: I’ve mastered the art of building a stellar fire, I had some great conversations with Serena when she was here, I finished a book I haven’t been able to focus on singularly enough to finish since I started it in October, I’ve written a lot, I’ve rested a lot, I’ve made cabin 5 homey and clean – no small feat, I’ve had some much needed alone, quiet time, I’ve played and sung a lot, I’ve ambled around a lot with the dogs, I’ve been thankful. And I got to spend two days watching the snow fall – my god – that was incredible. But thinking about returning home, this one paragraph at the end of Wildwood really struck a chord when I read it. And that was a week ago, before I was staring down the 2 ½ hour return drive:
Beyond the shroud of trees, she knew, was Portland. Her home. From this vantage, Prue thought, Portland seemed like the strange, magical country – not the world she currently stood in, with its stately groves of tall trees and busy populace, plying their trades in a peaceful coexistence with the world around them. The lattice of Portland’s freeways, clogged with cars and trucks, all the concrete and metal – these things seemed more alien to her now.
Brian and Sam have been cautioning me about heading back to town: “It’s going to seem crazy. Traffic will make you really panicky, like, horns and sirens and stuff. Heading into town after being here for a while is always weird.” I don’t mean to be effusive and dramatic. And I don’t hate Portland, not by a long shot. I just really want a simple kind of existence in every aspect. Being out here in the woods has really clarified that for me. This has been a week of quotations for sure – I came across this Epicurus one in the back of my calendar that is a good reminder to take this time for what it has been and not be dissatisfied with my reality at home: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Another that had been making the rounds on Pinterest before I came out here popped into my head last night as I was relishing the creek sounds: “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today?” And as I began mulling over the myriad things for which I am thankful, Bing Crosby’s Counting My Blessings from White Christmas played in my mind.
And through it all, as I worked on a large grant that will hopefully help us expand our Opal Creek Expeditions programming, I was able to feel a real connection with the work we do. It’s not about Opal Creek, per se – although this place is an incredible haven for both woodland flora and fauna and what John Muir called “nerve-shaken, over-civilized people” alike – it’s about making connections with wild places, Opal Creek being but one vehicle to that end. Gabbi shared this Baba Dioum quote with me earlier this week [note to self: figure out who Baba Dioum is]: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”