On to better, more interesting things.
Saturday we decided to get out of the house and out of Portland and head to one of the biggest tourist attractions in Oregon- Mount Hood. It’s a bit embarrassing that we’ve yet to go as it’s no more than an 45 minutes from our house but neither of us ski (or do anything remotely athletic) so the motivation hasn’t been there.
We decided to go to the Wildwood Recreation Center which is home to the Cacade Streamwatch Trail. A lovely paved trail meanders along the Salmon River and even has an underground observatory that allows you to watch young salmon and trout in their natural environment. Outdoorsy and educational!
It’s a little hard for me to write about as I don’t feel I have the skill to truly describe what such a forest is like. As you drive in you feel the energy shift- out of man’s world into nature. Even though you’re in a car and moving at 55 mph as you look out the window the sheer greenness holds the eye and draws you in. This is not a wall of trees along the highway with meadows beyond. This is forest primeval and it exudes a majesty and mystery that, for me, is both intoxicating and soothing. You pass small unmarked unpaved roads (leading where?) that themselves seem to disappear into the deep sylvan darkness. What is up there? Even the roads that are paved only have signs with numbers- Road 9. I’ve lived on a country road with a number designation but it was flat and wide open. These almost feel like magical portals to another time and place, as if choosing one could take you into another world (and not in that creepy Deliverance kind of way, OK?).
By the time we arrive it is raining in earnest but we are now habituated to such things and both have our hooded rain gear. As I stand in the almost empty parking lot I begin to feel a softening inside. The air, with the rain and river, feels like water. Not wet, heavy, or oppressive but so clean you almost feel as if you’re absorbing it through your pores. Deep breaths are effortless and calming.
We begin our walk and are soon in the midst of such lush verdant greenness it would be overwhelming except for its depth. It’s not sharp or glaring it is soft and enveloping. Even the tree trunks are coated with layers of filmy moss. It’s everywhere, even hanging like fringe from protruding branches.
It’s comforting, despite the grandeur and the fact that the sky is almost hidden by branches. There is the sense that you could easily disappear and become a part of it, which is probably what I like. I don’t want to climb or scale or conquer nature. I want to slow and stand and shrink. I want to stop breathing so I can hear only what is around me not what is inside me. The current of the river, the whisper of tree limbs in the wind, the sharp plink of rain dropping from one leaf to the next.
Soon we come to the river. There are wide rocky shores and the water itself is lovely- sandy brown eddying to deeper pools of green- which, according to J, is where the fish lie out of the current waiting for something yummy to go by. I am so mesmerized by the rhythm and sound of the current that I don’t realize I am leaning forward until J decides it would be hilarious to push me (and grab my arms at the same time so there was no chance of falling). My shriek seems to moves him to tears of laughter. Guys. Childish behavior aside he, too, is drawn in by all this. He’s a fly fisherman but for various reasons has not gone since we moved here.
We continue our exploration moving between river and forest, reveling in the silence of civilization and noise of nature. I could rhapsodize for pages and still not convey what a couple hours in this kind of nature does for me. Nourish feels like too small a word.
On the way home I marveled to J about the dirt roads leading off the highway and what it would be like to live out here with few modern conveniences. I said, “I can’t imagine what it would be like.” Without missing a beat, he said, “I could. I would love it.” Hhhhmmmmm.
What lies beyond?
If you were to consider a life away from the city/town what would be your must-have modern convenience?