I’ve only ever truly known easy rivers. For the most part. When I stand on the banks of the Chewuch, Methow or Twisp Rivers, here in the valley, I have this sudden realization that the closer I stand to the source, the wilder the unending waters, the whiter the rapids, the smoother the stones. The rivers here are unforgettable. Everlasting. Surely I have rediscovered my youth each time I have slipped out of my shoes and walked into the torrent. I am nearly pulled away. I put my arms out for balance. The water is cold. I feel my bones chatter. The chill awakens something in me. My mind feels fresh.
There are horses in the pasture below the house. One is black and brimming with spirit. He continually calls out, his voice ringing throughout the little nook this house is nestled in. In the evening, he gallops in circles, bucks and twists in the air, snorts as the wind combs his mane. He is wild for the sake of wildness. How many things are simply what they are for the sake of themselves? Art for the sake of art. Habit for the sake of habit. Wildness for the sake of the wild. When I watch that black horse buck, I buck too. I think to myself, “Never be tamed.” I take the bit between my teeth and I run.
I have termed life in the Methow “Nook and Cranny” because there are houses and cabins where you would least expect them. It seems like we’re all living in the cleft of a rock. This house is in a secret place. You have to know it exists in order to find it.
The locals talk about how dry it is in the valley, but when we arrived, I felt my skin drink up the moisture of the air and my pores fell open. It feels lush here. They tell me the heat is coming. Let it come, I say. Let it come. Look at the rivers and the lakes here. Endless water pouring over the skin of the forests and hills. Water is never far away.
I drove over the pass to Diablo Lake where there is a beautiful gravel beach that corrals one side of the lake (the water of which is a gorgeous silty, glacial blue). I have walked that beach a few times and found it good for combing. I found seven beautiful flight feathers — they appeared as gifts. I found an osprey feather at the base of an alder. A sign? I began seeing ospreys in Pocatello about one month ago. Brief visions of them continue to pepper my life. I think they’re made of savage grace. Each time I catch a glimpse of an osprey I feel filled with innocent and abundant joy. I found gloriously twisting drift woods, a field of wild columbines, a pasture of fiddle heads, an eagle nest. In order to get closer to him, I fed a Stellar’s jay all my almonds. I marveled at how vibrant the colors are here. They are nearly audible in their richness and depth. The further one goes into the interior west, the more sun-washed the landscape becomes. The forests there are covered lightly with fine dusts that only rinse away in hard rains, the forest floors smell honey sweet and hot instead of musty and damp. This is a different world. I love discovering it.
I planted my garden. It still feels like magic, every year: putting seeds into the dirt and watching them rise up green and become something nourishing for the body and soul. For being an ancient practice, gardening never grows old. I want to wrap my arms around the bees and butterflies and be lifted up on the winds of tiny wings. I want to build small cradles in the lilacs for the hummingbirds to find their rest. Already we fly towards the summer solstice. I don’t want to watch the daylight shrink away. Not yet.
There is a pair of nuthatches with a nest inside a tree trunk at the smokejumper base. Those baby birds are always crying out for more bugs. The adult nuthatches never rest, they feed their brood constantly. I wonder if this is how my girlfriends who have babies exist? Constantly in flight, sensitive to the voices of their children, a mess of wings, wind and bugs in beak?
A funny story for you: One day, I bought a sandwich in town and went up into the hills for a picnic with Tater Tot. I found a beautiful ponderosa pine stand on a hillside and sat in the shade with a book and my food. For five minutes I enjoyed that peaceful little space until Tater began to act very strangely and the fact that I had sat down in a nest of baby snakes was suddenly revealed to me. It was truly heinous. One slithered across my bare foot as the entire nest of serpents violently erupted and began sliding into the grass around me. I nearly had a coronary as I picked up my things and ran down the hillside screaming. Surely, had they been rattlers, I’d have been bitten multiple times. If you are coming to the Methow, beware the baby snake nests. I know where one is and I promise not to take you there. I never feared snakes until I lived remotely in Arizona. Now they strike terror into my heart, no matter the species. I am incapable of controlling my physical and vocal reactions at the sight of snakes. I think my fear could be classified as a phobia and I am slightly embarrassed of it…but if you could only know how I suffered at the hands (?) of rattlesnakes whilst living in Arizona…you would understand.
Well, that’s a good little glimpse at the past few weeks of my life. I hope you are wonderful in every way, and if you aren’t, I hope you’re spinning the dark into light and managing to find hope, peace and joy regardless of your life circumstances. More soon and all love from the Methow!