‘Lingering in beauty’
Soft light shines on my eyelids, luring them to open. I’m camped on a dusty ridge. From my sleeping bag I see layers of landscape stretching for miles.
The horizon is jagged with pale grey-blue peaks. The next line of jags are shade darker. Next a tone deeper still. And then my perspective shifts to the forest of trees a few miles in front of me.
Sun is now fully up. She’s too dazzling to look at directly. The day is waking and I’m waking with her.
Birds unknown to me chatter. I hear those near me – and some further down in those layers. Now the buzz of flies.
I’m reluctant to move. Reluctant to leave this sleeping bag, this tent, this piece of ground. I allow myself to have my coffee and cereal in my sleeping bag so I can linger a little longer.
Then it’s a big energy change:
A 10 mile walk down to the Trail Head where I hitch hike into the small town of Etna.
I visit 2 supermarkets for food resupply,
2 cafes for food and drinks,
a phone call.
A hitch hike back up to the Trail Head and back onto PCT.
I’m driven, focused… I’ll walk another 10 miles before camp.
Six miles more walking (uphill) and I come to Paynes Lake. There’s a flat spot to camp under a tree. Rather than pushing on into the dark I allow myself to stay.
It’s a still gentle place and I have it to myself. I’m siting in the dark writing this and watching movement, hearing ripples, on the moonlit lake.
Starting and ending my day in nature – with a rushy town visit in between – reminds me how much I, we, need these gentle rhythms to sustain us.
We are not machines, we are nature. It’s so important to give ourselves permission to linger, no matter how driven we are. There will always be more miles we can walk, more things we can do. But we may never pass these ways again.
“Let the soft animal of your body do what it loves.” – Mary Oliver