In the glorious elements.

gl P1040981 huge dome & lakeWhen we were up in the mountains last week, my granddaughter Maggie often played a game on her phone, which involved creating things from earth, fire, water and air…  Just now I realized that our experiences during our vacation were centered around a similar thematic group, consisting of Rock, Water, and Stars, with a little Fire and Trees in the mix, too.

A wildfire was burning close to our route up the mountain (Fire+Trees=Wildfire+Smoke), which may account for the hazy look of this top photo, which nevertheless combines in grandeur several mountain elements. (Rock + Trees + Water + Evening Light = Wow)

gl P1040946




We stopped at the redwood grove on our way, because it never hurts to get a dose of the stately and patient mood the giant trees maintain, and Maggie had never met these particular specimens before. She read a sign and reminded us that some of them have been here since the time of Christ. (Trees + Time = Giant Sequoias)


IMG_2885gl P1040957


Here you can see how tidy is the bundle on top of my car, which early that morning Pearl had helped me wrap envelope-style, before I did my knot work. 🙂













The bundle remained tight and noiseless at freeway speeds (on the way up the mountain, at least), so we were relieved.

As soon as we pulled up to the cabin, Maggie was running, flying down the hill as the bird flies, to “explore.” Just below our place she had to cross this large slab of granite sloping down toward the lake.

gl P1040975 slab below cabin CR

Her mother and grandmother (me) did not attempt to go anywhere on foot that evening, because we were feeling the altitude. It really slows a person down, to be eight thousand feet higher in elevation than your lungs are used to. Maggie also noticed that she was out of breath more quickly, but it didn’t seem to slow her down much! (Activity – Air = Sluggishness)

So that night after dinner we curled up and listened to me read Farley Mowat’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, a very funny story that we had also read at the cabin about fifteen years ago. I later saw in The Cabin Log Kate’s account of that previous reading, “We laughed until we cried (seriously!)”

gl P1050083 kayaks

The next afternoon we went canoeing, which we could all three do together, after hauling the canoe down to the water. It was lovely while we were out there, but we only did that once, because the canoe is really too heavy for us little women. After seeing women paddling solo around the lake in kayaks, I have started thinking that I should invest in one of those little boats I could manage by myself, so that I could enjoy exploring the lake when I am up there on my own. If any of my readers has knowledge of this subject, I’d appreciate your input.

The photo above also shows Maggie with one of the friends she made, in the water near the rock that looks like a cracked egg, from which they would leap into the water. Having an almost 13-yr-old with me was part of why this stay at the lake was unusual. She was eager to do everything that could possibly be done, from lying in her hammock under the deck to swimming in the lake that the rest of us had always considered too P1050100 CR Fi leap

gl P1040982 M build fire

The days we were there were leading up to a work day and potluck for the members of the owners’ association, which brought many more people up to the lake than I’ve ever seen at one time. This is why tgl P1050006 M w marshmallowhere were children Maggie’s age to play with, and how it happened that on two nights we shared three different campfires with new friends. It was a strangely social time, though not overly so. We all had time each day to be quiet and alone as well. And I really do want to know the families who have cabins at our lake, some of whom have been coming for over 50 years and passing their property down through the P1050123


We had two campfires at our own cabin, which Maggie built herself. We made s’mores and popped popcorn over the fires, for the popcorn using this venerable device that can also be used in a fireplace. But the weather was so mild, we didn’t build a fire indoors.

One day I took Pearl and Maggie over to Gumdrop Dome which we always have to climb partially or to the top. The views and the photography from up there are unbeatable, but for the last many years it has only been partially to the top for me. I showed them the way that everyone seems to go, and saw them off with a cheery “See you on the other side!”, confident that they would have no trouble getting to the top, young and strong as they are.

But it was not to be. They came down the way they had started up, and eventually came around the dome to find me above them, partway up. I had  been hollering “Hel-looo!” every so often for 45 minutes, and praying that they hadn’t both fallen and hit their heads. This is what it looked like, where I was expecting to see them come over the top:

gl P1050050  O's dome not this steep

In real life it feels steeper than it looks, but I think the angle of this photo conveys the feeling pretty well. And then, there is that lack of oxygen.

gl P1050048 succulent O dome


While I was waiting, on the lower sides of the dome, I still had lots of beauty to keep me enthralled. Everything from succulents at my feet to the famous Ant Island across the lake.


Water + Sky + Rock = Mountain Beauty

gl P1050038 ant island crp

At night before bed we all liked to lie on the deck and look up at the stars for a half hour or more. What can I say about them? No words are adequate. Each one is energized, is what it is, by God’s Holy Spirit, and there are gazillions of them making an incredibly showy and captivating display that is completely silent. Perhaps it is the silence that helps us become receptive, so that they are able to convey to us some of their spirit. God uses them to thrill our souls, I know that at least. Maggie said she could never get tired of looking at them, and I must agree.

But eventually we had to go to bed. I will leave you with a view of the lake at evening, when we see that Water + Evening = silver glass.

Good-bye, Dear Mountain Air, Rock and Stars, Lake and Trees — all you Mountain Elements — until next summer!

gl P1050070 lake silver pink rocks


14 thoughts on “In the glorious elements.

  1. I am so glad that the cabin that sits in the land of domed rocks, silver waters, and evergreens and that sits under the sky that gives gifts morning, noon and night, was a part of this summer. Your photos are grand and this lovely post stirred sweet memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Gretchen, You are a great journalist.  I feel like I was there sharing in your adventure. Lots of love for you and your dear family.  Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for taking us along on another ‘field trip’ in beautiful northern California! What a special place to enjoy simple living and just spend time with family. The stars are silent to us, but I love the idea of the ‘music of the spheres’, running from Pythagoras through the western Christian medieval thinkers, right to e.g. Madeleine L’Engle, who writes often about the stars singing – and dancing – to the glory of God. This post makes me think so much of Tove Jansson’s Summer Book 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anna, if I have reminded you of the Summer Book then I feel I have accomplished a wonderful thing! And I appreciate your filling out the idea of the stars’ silence by drawing our attention to the very real, surely musical message that God speaks to us in their kind of silence – the sound of His presence. Thank you!


  4. Well, I love this post! The pictures are just beautiful! Love seeing how elegantly Maggie leaps from one spot to another – looks like y’all have a dancer! And those trees – wow, just magnificent. I hopped up from my reading spot and showed every one in the house these amazing photos. Seeing them for myself is very high on my wish list! To think of the times these giants among us mark! Beautiful Maggie looks like a little ant in that one shot!

    This is exactly the sort of vacation that I enjoy most.

    On the kayaks – I prefer the “sit on” rather than “sit in” kayak. I’ll encourage you to find a kayak source in your area. Ours, Austin Kayaks, has a “try on” event every so often. They put several boats in the water and invite people to come out and spend some time paddling around. We really like the Diablo products – The Cupracaba and the Amigo are our favorites. They are stable enough for standing on like a paddle board (all the way to either end!), light enough for me handle in and out of the water, and sturdy enough for all conditions (we like to use them in the Gulf too). I didn’t think I would like the raised “Larry seat” which is one of several options, but after trying it I sure do prefer it. It’s very nice to keep a dry bottom when you want to be “out there” all day! I don’t know if y’all have REI stores over there, but if so, they carry several very nice boats. It’s interesting to see that kayaks can range from an all plastic “toy” which provides enough buoyancy and stability for a safe time on the water (around a hundred bucks) all the way up to highly customized fishing/recreational boats (upwards of a thousand bucks!). Most important idea is there is a kayak for you out there … trying out a few would be time well spent. Those two I mentioned can carry Sammy (+100# dog) and still have capacity for a grandchild!

    Thank you so very much for sharing this lovely trip! Oh! One other note – Scientists have “discovered” individually unique “vibrations” from stars which they say are musical. The stars do indeed sing of His glory!

    Glad you’re back!

    Liked by 1 person

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