The morning quality in the mountains.


Yesterday I drove all day to get up to my family’s cabin in the high mountains. The journey was as easy as it could have been, and I arrived late afternoon instead of at dusk. But to say “easy” when talking about what I did — maybe I should have said it was less difficult than it might have been.

To maneuver a heavy machine at high speed through mazes of highways and byways, trying not to collide with any other machines carrying their tender human cargo, requires a huge amount of mental work, most of which seems to be unconscious, because I don’t feel it at the time. And the body, while sitting relatively immobile in a position some of the joints and sinews don’t appreciate, must still be poised to respond moment by moment to what information the eyes strain to get through the dirty windshield.

As soon as I walked through the door of the cabin I felt the extreme weariness of the effort, combined with the altitude that by itself makes everyone sleepy (8200 feet). I went to bed early and slept like a log of Lodgepole Pine.

This morning it’s blue skies I’m seeing as I sit on the deck, along with a blue dragonfly, a blue jay, and an occasional hummingbird. Chipmunks are chirping, and down below chain saws are roaring as men work to thin out some of the trees among the group of cabins, to lessen fire danger. The air is warm and soft, and will probably be about 30 degrees cooler than in the Central Valley that I drove through to get here.

I love just being in this mountain refuge, but since I started coming alone I usually have unrealistic goals for how I will use what seems from the lowlands like an extravagant amount of free time. This year I feel rather that Less is More; other than wanting to read and write in a more focused way for a few days, I don’t expect great feats. Of course I want to pay attention. Just now, as the sun and the saws draw the conifer essence into the air, I notice it becoming more aromatic. Now we’re talking easy!

Lodgepole Pine and Red Fir

11 thoughts on “The morning quality in the mountains.

  1. I am so glad you made it safe. I have been thinking of you up there in the coolness away from the heat. Its beautiful up there. Your writing reminds me of the first chapter in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gifts from the Sea. I hope you have a nice time up there just observing and paying attention. Both things are needed in this life. Just the quietness that comes from being alone, yet never alone. Have a wonderful time. I will be thinking and praying for you.

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  2. This ‘alone time’ in a refuge far away can be very productive – not necessarily in outputs as such, but in getting to know oneself in a different way and the simple appreciation of the scenery, birds, insects, trees, sounds and scents. I wish you well: peace, comfort, and the joy of living. I hope you return feeling mentally refreshed and physically re-energised.

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  3. How peaceful it looks up there at 8200 ft above sea level. Driving requires a lot of concentration. I’m not surprised that you were exhausted. I hope your stay will be refreshing.

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  4. Clear mountain air with brisk mornings and sunny days are some we enjoyed on our trip. I was quite surprised at the humidity when we returned, although I’ve never noticed it before. Enjoy your time of relaxation and refreshment.

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  5. Your description of the mental and physical impact of driving – spot on! The exhaustion is why I think I dread road trips (even though something inside still thinks they are supposed to be fun), and I put them off. We live so very far on the eastern edge. I’m glad you’re at the cabin! I love reading what you observe when you’re there.

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  6. I love how you’ve assessed your “unrealistic goals” and picked one I hope you’ll stick with. In such a place, beauty and contemplation seem to go hand in hand. (And yes, I know the driving thing firsthand. Well said!)


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