My Sky Perch
I returned home yesterday afternoon, after spending a week long stint in a lookout tower outside of Swan Lake, Montana, which I reserved 6-months ago. It was, in short, a life-affirming solo saunter. My husband Mike came up on Friday night and stayed through the weekend but the four nights prior to his arrival, I was there on my own.
In large part, I spent my time: listening, writing, making tea, and reading Mary Oliver. It was glorious and chilly and sometimes frightening. It was all the things.
Six months ago, on November 21st, 2017, I reserved to stay a full week at the Mission Lookout Tower starting on May 21st, located just a few miles from Swan Lake, Montana. With the exception of my husband and stepson coming up to spend the afternoon yesterday, I spent the week there solo. No power, no running water, no cell service.
It was deeply nourishing…ravishingly beautiful…heart-quenchingly filled with quietude…and luminous in every possible internal and external way.
I have scores of daily logging entries in my spiral-bound notebook, dozens of short creative writing snippets in my leather-bound catch-all, two freshly written spoken word pieces, over two hundred photos, and a multitude of video segments. It’s difficult to know how best to wrap up this past week, so I plan on crafting a 3-post series.
My 360-degree glass nest was perched 40-feet up high in the air atop a wooden tower, nestled in a thick of pine trees. Mission Mountains to the west. Swan Range to the east. I watched the sun rise every morning and the sun set every evening. I watched as the waxing moon made her way across the sky. Never before had I been so connected, engaged, and enthralled with the presence and pulsing movement of light.
In only the way a cat can, I was commandeered – in the best way possible – unable to break free. And, as we were sitting outside, I was afforded the luxury of time to look up and ponder the merits and inspirational value of the two towering elm tree friends posting guard in our backyard.
So, it was just this morning that I was able to determine, without wavering, that while they are cause for dismay and require great efforts of manual labor at times, their beauty, wisdom, and fortitude offer far more benefit.
I realized, too, that the one directly overhead of me had a sense of humor, as it was pelting me occasionally with small bits of twigs and leaves as I was writing.
P.S I thought it worth mentioning that I have mild-moderate levels of hesitation in fashioning and posting this photo array from pics I took this morning, as there is a part of me that wants to stay in close personal accord with not becoming one of “those” kinds of cat people. But after careful consideration, I decided it was worth the risk.
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs trail, December 25th, 2016, Idaho
Becoming part of a winterscape thick with cedar,
walking tall among elder trunks
and undergrowth buried in snow,
we communed with a part of ourselves
that often lies dormant.
Under nature’s influence
we can be guided back to what has been forgotten.
And when we are ushered
from our slumber to remember,
we will continue to return,
over and over,
back to the woods.
A pic I took of an old trail sign – and then added some words to with Pic Monkey :)
I’ve been starting to get a little restless, from having had shoulder surgery almost 3 weeks ago and still being in a sling and relatively one-handed. So today I ventured out on my own for a walk in the woods. Spending time with trees is good medicine.
There’s a spot in the Blue Mountain Recreation Area not far from my house that I especially like to go. It has good parking and the wooded walking trail goes right by the Bitterroot River, which is a great bonus. It was a sunny, warm day today and only a small handful of people were on the trail, which was also an added bonus. I pulled up into a sliver of shade and then set out on foot with my ipod and camera in tow.
The sun rippled down through long strands of muted green grasses as boughs of pines and aspens swayed in the summer wind. Large birds of prey were soaring with widely spread wings above the river and small song birds were singing long intertwining arias amongst the trees.
Flathead Lake Cherry Orchard, Montana
On Tuesday I took a drive up north with my mom, stepson, and friend to the Flathead Lake area in order to do some cherry picking. We were gifted with an invitation from a friend of mine, a local orchard worker, to come up and pick as many cherries as we wanted. Around here many folks wait for the Flathead Cherry season to come into full swing. They are a local delicacy, and for good reason!
Similar to gardening cherry picking is a naturally mindful activity. It’s hard to pick cherries and not be fully present with the process. The four of us spent 2 hours picking and collected around 100 pounds of cherries! We had to pull ourselves away from the trees – it was just so easy and enjoyable picking away. The trees were chock full!
OK – so now we had 100 pounds of cherries right? Now what? Well, I got to work washing, de-stemming, and pitting cherries :)
After some great help from a couple of friends we have about 10 gallon sized ziplock bags full of pitted cherries in the freezer. There are a few bags we didn’t pit and the rest have either being given to friends, are in the dehydrator, have been juiced, frozen into popsicles, or turned into the delicious pies that my mom and I made last night using a crust recipe from my great grandmother. I think I’ve had more cherries in the past two days then I’ve had in my entire life! I’ve drank cherry juice, eaten fresh cherries, had cherry pie, and last night I had a cherry popsicle from fresh cherry juice. There are cherries all over the house :)
Currently I am house sitting for a good friend of mine for the whole month of September. I’m also taking care of her two dogs, of which I have a daily walking regiment around the neighborhood with. How wonderful it is to get outside and walk and take the time to get in touch with beauty and gratitude! I don’t have dogs myself so I’m not used to walking simply for the sake of walking. I would highly recommend it.
Today I found the first autumn leaf on the ground a few blocks away (see pic above). While we were walking the sky was filled with blues and grays as the sun was popping in and out of the clouds. We passed by incredibly beautiful full leafed green trees, large ink black crows, sweet faced children, and abodes of all different kinds with flowers and herbs and cats and bikes in the yard. I could smell the hint of the rain that had just fallen melting into the earth and roots. And for a few moments I saw a small portion of a rainbow set against the mountains.