The land passes by in a blur of green and grey. Windshield wipers slice furiously back and forth, exerting themselves to clear the deluge of rain that obscures the windshield. Bob Dylan plays from a tape that I had bought at a booth at the farmers market. Like a Rolling Stone. There is no specific destination in mind. Just a general area 3 hours north and west that the Weather Network predicted might have breaks of sun amongst the cloud and scattered rain. It’s a place I have never been before. I like that.
In the back of the SUV is my back pack stuffed with a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a head lamp, some extra layers, some food. I keep it packed, minus the clothes and food, leaning against the wall of my garage, for days like these when I just have to get out of town. There’s also my guitar, which comes with me whenever I leave town. Something to do when it gets too late to be scampering around in the woods.
As I drive on, past the 2 and half hour mark I start to get nervous about the rain. It’s coming down hard and although a little drizzle doesn’t bother me, I’m not sure I want to be hanging outside in a down pour. But then it starts to let up a bit and then it stops and then some clouds scoot along and this ray of magnificent, warm, sunshine seeps through, like honey, making everything it touches glow. This just as I’m arriving at the crest of a hill and see down below me this pristine blue green lake dazzling in the sunshine and framed by the mountains.
Do you ever get that feeling where you’re almost winded by how beautiful something is? Like it almost hurts?
The highway winds its way along the edge of the lake, up the side of the mountains a bit and I can see from looking down the slope, through the trees, wide rock beaches surrounding the lake. That’s where I want to be, on that rock beach. I pull off on the side of the road at a particularly breathtaking point and grab my backpack and guitar out of the boot. I shimmy down the slope and begin walking through the trees, checking out the moss and the rocks and the mushrooms that look like corn meal pancakes, crazily flipped all over the forest. I pick wild flower as I go; purple and red and yellow.
That night I gather up twisted, arthritic, driftwood from the deserted rock beach and build a campfire. The smoke, thin and smelling of the earth, twists up, swaying and dipping and twirling its mesmerizing dance into the sky.
Then I roll a joint and I light some sage and I get a little high as I walk a big circle around my camp spot on that remote beach, the sage burning a medicine trail behind me, to keep me safe and lay my mind to peace. Once I have staked my land and made it a good place, I play my guitar and sing to the mountains and the lake and the crickets (knowing they’ll return the favor later on).
As the sky darkens and the clouds split apart I look up into the sky. The sky which is alight with streams and puddles of stars, heartbreakingly beautiful to this woman whose night sky is normally obscured by the artificial din of city light. Lying there, alone, beside the fire I have this distinct feeling I am being held by the universe. That the whole world and all the stars and everything is forming a giant net to hold me and keep me safe. I am alone but I don’t feel that way. In fact I feel opposite. I feel connected and protected and at ease, like I’m coming home.