|top of a little fir tree|
I’ve mentioned the smoke from the Rim Fire, and the stinging of eyes and throat. It all was a bit distracting. The discomfort made any mental focusing difficult, and one thought kept coming back to me: Will I have to cut my time short and go home? By the second morning, I knew I would be able to stay.
Naturally the stars were still there where I’d left them in July, and I did spend some time with my friends, but not the first night – I was a little altitude sick, and spent. Just give me a good bed, and I’ll leave the window open so the cool mountain air will brush my cheek in the night, gently. The second night I also did not feel great, because of the smoke and the headache it gave me. I could only imagine that the stars were somewhat blocked out anyway.
But – surprise! – I woke at 2:30 in the morning, quite wide awake. It’s not very cold, and I feel good. So I dragged a sleeping pad out onto the deck, shook my sleeping bag (brought just for this purpose) out of its stuff bag, and crawled inside. Hmmm….I am not in the best location; the eaves of the roof are blocking part of the show… so I hauled myself out, moved my bed and scooted back down inside.
I lay there looking up at the Milky Way and noticing again how the tall Lodgepole pines make a kind of ruffled edge to the pool of stars. They also hide some constellations I’d like to have seen, like the Little Dipper. Next I found that the umbrella was cutting into my view, so I rearranged myself and my pallet once more, and then stayed put for an hour and a half. During that time I stared a lot, and saw many shooting stars. Stars appear to be so alive, making the sky coldly electric and exciting with their sparkling. And I felt alive, too.
I tried to go back to sleep out on the deck, which is why I stayed so long. But that didn’t work, so I went back to the bed by the window, from which I could actually see the stars a little.
One reason to make one’s mountain vacation at least four nights long (or should we make that ten?) is so that you can have more possible nights for star-gazing. In the mountains you never know when a thunderstorm will come through for a couple of days, and that’s what happened next. My remaining nights at the cabin were rainy, so I was really thankful that God had awakened me in the wee hours to have my Star Time.
I was sitting on the deck that afternoon, reading or sewing, when I noticed the sky clouding up. I could see that rain was falling in the northeast, and I heard the thunder very loud. Then lightning…but I resisted being driven indoors until an hour or two later when the sky was completely clouded over, and the temperature was dropping.
|The kind of fire I’ll build next time.|
I had moved inside to the dining table by the picture window when I heard the patter of rain, and looked up to see dark spots appearing on the deck boards…what a blessing to have this Mountain Storm experience! It made me very contented. I thought of building a fire in the massive rock fireplace, but the weather didn’t really call for it; I still had the doors and windows open as the temperature hadn’t dropped that much.
|Me sitting by that window in yesteryear|
When the rain had stopped, and it was still not dark yet, I went out and stood looking out beyond the deck to the lake. I smelled the earth and the trees — for the first time! I hadn’t even noticed as I was entering the forest on my drive up, or anytime in the first two days, that the mountain air hadn’t pressed its heady aromas on my senses. All I could think was that the smoke had been filling those olfactory spaces until the rain washed things up.
As I looked out and soaked up the quiet, and the moist and piney smell, a small doe picked her way through the rocks and little trees right below the cabin, not aware of me. It’s the first time I’ve seen a deer that close to the house, and I counted it one more gift of the mountains.