Yesterday, after spending some quality time with my beautiful girls, I took a spontaneous road trip on Washington Highway 20 toward Washington Pass and the American Alps. As a south-sounder, I tend to forget how beautiful the north-sound and northern range of the Cascades are. As I hit traffic (ugh) heading south, I decided to heed the call to reconnect with my Natural Self and experience the beauty of these woods.
It was a much needed trip and I’m very grateful that I had the luxury of time and resources to be spontaneous. It was a sorely needed adventure.
For three hours, there weren’t many people on the road. Once I got past Sedro-Woolley, for all intents and purposes, I had the road to myself. For a good portion of the trip, I was off the grid as there was no cell service in the area. If it isn’t obvious, I’m not complaining. Once I passed Birdsview, the air became fresher and had that distinct smell that rain has when one isn’t continually exposed to the scents of city living.
I’m still processing all the treasures that were discovered during that quality quiet time with my relatives. I will share a few here.
There is deep healing in the darkness of woods. And I do literally mean the darkness – where the trees live in a closely-knit, healthy community. Our elders, rocks and trees, have stories to tell, if one can hear. Nbi (water) is life. Since time immemorial, nbi has sustained us. We owe nbi our gratitude, our respect and our love. I was reminded how healing silence can be. The majority of my trip involved me, parked on the side of the road, getting out and walking around until I was too wet for comfort from the rain. Getting back in the car was difficult each time. Driving into the gorge outside of Newhalem reminded me of a few truths. The one that I can put language around concerns a realization of how small I am in the world, really. Robin Wall-Kimmerer has written of the Indigenous epistemology where humans are the younger brothers of our more-than-human relatives. Her words rang true as I drove into the gorge. There are other truths that can’t be described with my current vocabulary. Maybe another day.
For several months, I have heard my more-than-human relatives calling my name. Especially from the Olympic Peninsula. I have put off heeding that call. Yesterday’s trip was a catalyst for me to resolve not to ignore that call any longer. The work I want to do to protect and preserve the world and my more-than-human relatives has to be rooted deeply, and reading books and writing is only a tiny portion of the work. The experiential learning, the restoration of the reciprocal relationship between myself and my relatives….this is the real work. We live in a quantum universe. My healing in the woods can be just as powerful a teacher whether or not I write a word about it. That’s where the real work is.
The last thing I want to share is that, as beautiful and healing as this trip was, it was also a little nerve-wracking. We have had a lot of rain over the last few months. There was evidence of slides in many places on the road. I think the message for me was ‘change is the only constant’….and no matter what position or form my relatives may take, their presence here is eternal. As is mine.