From one Washington to Another –
Bitter Cold Clarity brings a Change in Direction
It’s the first week of May. Four friends bounded by lifetimes of sibling-ship head into the Olympic Peninsula Wilderness for a good hike, some hot springs and a night of camping to bid farewell to one of them heading across the country the following day.
It’s your typical Northwest day around the temperate rainforest: cold, dense fog and constant drizzle. We hike 2 miles in and as the elevation increases, so does snow level. We reach our destination and a foot of snow welcomes us with a small clearing under some trees to pitch our tents. We hit the Springs and I don’t want to get out, but I know the time must come for my bare skin to withstand the cold once more. I put on every warm layer I have, all wool. When the sun goes down, the temperature hits the 20′s and there’s a forecast for more snow. We endure a long night of cold huddled together in our tents that do nothing more for us than create the illusion of shelter.
After a morning soak to “warm up,” we get the heck outta there and hike back. This is when the moment of clarity strikes. Clarity so strong, the kind that comes with something you already knew, but weren’t willing to see out of pride. Like a relationship that’s past its prime but you go on convincing yourself and others is just perfect for you because admitting otherwise would be all too easy.
“It’s May and it’s Cold. I want to be where it’s warm.” A simple preference. I’ve lived in the Northwest for 4 years trying to adapt to the weather, and I have a bit (wool and long-johns are essential), but… I think it’s time to admit the fact that I prefer to feel the warmth of the sun upon my skin during the spring and summer months. All the wonderful release of pride…
With this harmonic alignment between thought and feeling, -heart and mind- it suddenly felt like someone literally stopped me in my tracks and turned me in another direction and said, now go this way. The feeling of my life changing direction. So my old home located in a suburb outside of DC became the destination.
My friend, heading to the east coast offered me a spot in the car. I desperately wanted to say yes, but told him it was too short notice and that even if I had just a few days notice, I think I’d be able to wrap up my commitments: a gardening job, new house/roommates I’d just moved into a week prior to the trip, place for my stuff, my car, my garden babies and my work at the farmers market.
So, wrestling with whether I’d missed my chance to get away from another cold spring and summer in the Northwest I went back to my farm home on San Juan Island, WA.
The following Thursday, a farm intern from the East Coast came to me and told me he was leaving to go back to New Hampshire. Things weren’t working out for him there like he’d hoped and had another opportunity he didn’t want to miss come up back home. He was taking the Southern Route. Without a thought, I heard myself say, “Can I come?” Without hesitation, Jake answered, “Sure.” I was 1/2 kidding until I realized his day of departure was a few days away and I remembered what I had told my friend the previous week – A few days notice, eh? Okay, I get the message.
Needless to say, all my commitments fell into place seamlessly, everyone bidding me blessings on my travels back to the East Coast. I made the decision to leave the island on Friday, We left on Monday – backpack in hand, adventure before us and bound for Virginia.