A few early Monday mornings ago around 5:00 am, I found myself on Vashon Island, a narrow strip that runs north and south from the coast of West Seattle to Tacoma. From my place on the island overlooking Puget Sound, I was treated to a lovely sunrise slowly creeping its way up Mount Rainier. The mountain first stood in darkness, then brightened by the second as the sun’s rays kissed her foothills. The air was cool, the Sound calm, the day new. Yes indeed folks, today the mountain would be out.
She appears silent, watching, on guard. But in actuality, she’s breathing, moving, filling every inch of her 14,000 foot isolation – thawing, melting, calving, freezing, stoking the fire in her belly, volcanic eruption overdue.
I can relate.
Washington is a breathtakingly beautiful state. Mountains in every direction, the Pacific ocean with her history and stories, and rivers that flow generously through thick, cool forests. It is an amazing place filled with trees so tall, they often block the sun.
I’ve learned of Washington’s history; one of growth, destruction, growth, destruction, growth..
Over 20,00o years ago, the state was covered by a glacier that retreated over the course of thousands of years. In its wake, kettle lakes were born, large boulders called an erractic are scattered throughout the state. Advancing and retreating ice carved out the rivers and Puget Sound, then shaped the mountain ranges – mostly a ring of volcanoes formed as Earth slides over, under, and around herself, writhing in her evolutionary dance. On the mountain sides today, right now, glaciers are spilling their life giving waters into splendid cascades.
I’ve been east to North Bend, Snoqualmie, Leavenworth, and Spokane. North to Woodinville, Marysville, Lynwood, Everett, and Bellingham. West to San Juan Islands, Deception Pass, Port Townsend, Coupeville, and Oak Harbor. South to Mount Rainier, Tacoma, and Olympia. I’ve taken ferries to San Juan, Lopez, Bainbridge, Vashon, and Whidbey Islands. I’ve hiked foothills and forests, camped under the stars, and traveled to the top of the Space Needle. Watched Orca dance through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and climbed a lighthouse at Lime Kiln, where local Orca swim by on their way to work or play. I’ve been to places with literary names like Friday Harbor, Point Defiance, Useless Bay, Possession Sound, and Cape Disappointment.
Many Native American and First Nation tribes make up the Salish Sea, running from the south end of Puget Sound and west to the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including the inland marine waters of southern British Columbia, Canada. Their legacy in places called Tulalip, Snohomish, Chehalis, Cle Elum, Enumclaw, Sequim (pronounced skwim), and of course, Seattle.
For a place I knew very little about before moving here, I’ve come to grow very fond of this wild, untamed country. I am living in the PNW, and it’s pretty damn awesome.
I’ve seen nature paint sunsets of orange, red, and yellow on the leaves in autumn, walked in cold winter rain and played in cold winter snow. I’ve turned my face toward the sun in spring, and shed layers as summer’s warmth wraps around me. The sun feels good.
I’ve crossed the borders; East into Idaho to Silverwood Park, and south to Portland, Oregon to a world famous bookstore and an indulgence in vegan doughnuts-one in the shape of a carrot bludgeoned by a pretzel, Voodoo for sure.;) North to Vancouver, BC, where we found “digital” orca, vegan burgers, and gargoyles
Sometimes it seems life rolls out the road map, plans the route, and drops the pins- it feels like I’m just along for the ride. For quite some time, I was sure I was completely lost. But my belief in love inevitably leads me in the right direction, inner compasses point magnetic north, searching for light within the darkness.
Life is not contained in a box with instructions for returns, it’s an evolving, metamorphosing, lesson wielding wild ride.
As for what comes next, what I’m going to do, or where I’m going I have not a clue. Not a single one. For awhile there, I thought I did. But one millisecond can change an entire life, and the purpose of it.
So today, I start over again. My role here is complete. And although I’ll miss this beautiful place and all it has to offer, my heart is called elsewhere now, and I must follow that. Because a heart is also not contained within a box with instructions for use, it only knows what it knows.
And I only know what I know, that today is here, and the time is now.