The morning breeze is cold and crisp and so invigorating! It tastes of snow, mountain springs, damp earth, freshly washed and squeaky clean. It smells of life, of spring trees, the sap beginning to flow. A gentle wind blows, soft but steady, spreading leftover raindrops as well as early petals, pink and white. Breathe deeply; this is the finest air of the year, to be savored and remembered through the dry heat of summer.
Archive for March, 2010
We paddle upriver as if in slow motion. The air feels thick, resisting every movement, pushing back against us. We are deafened, the caller’s cries lost. Waves slap the boat and splash up at every angle. Turning around, we hope to coast home; instead, we are rocked and buffeted in the white-capped wake.
Exhilarating! We climb ashore exhausted, but the most awake and alive we’ve been all day. I climb on my bike with the wind at my back this time, and fly down the waterfront towards home.
Not a lamb or a lion, but some kind of soaring creature that approaches the sun and then dives into the frigid sea. When the temperature changes 30 degrees in the course of a day, how do I dress??
Icy mornings. Clear sky, foggy breath, numb fingers. The mountain just visible against the glowing eastern sky. Bundled up, I pedal fast to the bus and climb aboard into the cozy heated interior. Sweaters, jackets, long-fingered gloves, my hood pulled up and jacket zipped up to my chin.
But the afternoons! Sunlight feels almost physical, warming, enlivening, balanced by fresh cool caressing breezes. Spring! they declare. Layers of clothes are stuffed in my bag as my skin enjoys the freedom of cotton t-shirts and rolled-up sleeves. Outdoor cafe tables and meandering bike trails beckon. Waving trees, lush grass, daffodils.
There is nothing to compare with the outdoors, in March in Oregon.
The mountain is called Wy’east, for a chief of the Multnomah tribe. He is a fighter, for the love of a maiden or against a rival chief. He has slept these past 200 years, but will waken again someday.
In the meantime he shares his mighty slopes with hikers and skiers and intrepid climbers. He has been known to take life, but he is not treacherous; the brave know the risks they take. From afar his snowy shoulders seem so peaceful, so gentle, but a warrior lies beneath.
One sunrise is much like another. Searing orange, deep purple, the mountain starkly etched against them. Streaks of pink and yellow reaching across the sky. There is only so much I can say about them; only so many praises I can sing before I repeat myself.
And yet I never tire of them. The splendor fades with the morning, but is reborn each day, the same and yet new, freshly beautiful, breathtaking and inspiring.
The rain patters and spatters the roof, the street, the puddles. Tiny rivers run down the street. The warm wind ruffles umbrellas, rattles bicycles. Trees sigh and stretch and soak. The grass uncurls its roots and revels in the moisture. Dormant plants underground swell with water, and prepare to explode skyward, nourished and refreshed, when the sun returns.
It’s what the Navajo call a female rain: the gentle, deep soaking, life-giving, nurturing rain. I can almost hear the earth awakening beneath it as it falls.
What am I doing inside? The sun is blinding bright. It’s only teasing us; the sky is gray, the temperature frosty. The wind sharp and biting.
But just in case it’s real, out I go.