When worry takes its toll, and I’m again buried beneath fears of being out of control, I need only touch the earth to restore some peace inside.
How fortunate then, that our earth is so beautiful and accessible! Wednesday was my scheduled day off. My man suggested trails in the Columbia River Gorge because I wouldn’t have to drive too far. He expressed disappointment about the rain though. I told him I didn’t care about the rain. (Sometimes a wounded psyche even likes the rain…)
I packed a lunch for myself when I finished packing one for the girlie. She was beside herself about the results of the Presidential election. Don’t blame me! I tried to keep myself out of it around her, because I don’t feel it is appropriate for parents to enforce their own ideology on their children when it comes to things like politics and religion. She decided to wear red, white, and blue to celebrate the day. She said there was one person in her class who would be very upset. I’m a mom and couldn’t help but caution her, “I hope that you are kind to that person.” She said, “Of course! She’s my best friend!” Oh. Ha ha. I forget how wonderful children can be.
After girlie was off, I grabbed a sweater and kissed my man goodbye, and off I went. From I-84 east, I took the exit I wanted, but got immediately distracted by a sign to Oxbow State Park. I thought that since I kept seeing signs for that place, it must be worth finding. I had a hard time finding it, and none of my maps showed the park because it’s just off the edge of the city maps, and too small to show up on the state maps. I took my time, and lollygagged, and stopped for pictures and finally, after an hour and half, found the park! It’s in a gorgeous area, packed with autumn forest trees on a peninsula surrounded by the Sandy River, just on the edge of Troutdale.
I drove through the spanking new playgrounds and polished group campsites and little subdivision of numbered slots to squish in a car and a tent. It didn’t take long to ascertain that Oxbow Park is not at all what would heal this Earth spirit. Why would I leave my home in the city to seek out the exact same thing an hour out of the city? At home I am packed in on every side by people and houses and highways and dogs barking and kids squealing all clamoring for a part of my consciousness so that each day I am deafened by their never ending white noise shrieking CITY! CITY! CITY!
So, I pulled my Saturn dragon wagon slowly around the one-way paved circle and moved on. What a fun radio day it was! I have two NPR pre-sets, and between them I can get talk radio almost anytime. This day the pervading mood was euphoria. I did not end up hiking much. It poured rain. And poured rain. And it was fiercely windy, and so cold. I did take to the trails here and there, but was grateful to scuttle back to the car and kick on the heat again. Then I listened to voices from all over the world commenting on the U.S. election. I was astonished to hear that people in Kenya think this election will change their country. People in Australia, Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, England, and Germany were calling into the BBC to express their joy. The lines were open to everyone, and so some other perspectives were on the air as well, but the worldwide reaction to our election blew me away. People really think that America has shown the world how to behave. I’m glad for that; our country could use some good publicity for a change.
They called in from China, celebrating the Obama win. They called in from Spain. Why do these people care about us? I really must be in a Prima Donna country that the whole rest of the planet cares who my President is. I have not been properly grateful for this cherished lottery ticket – being born here, I mean. Africans called in practically crying with joy over the example we have set that they believe should also be set in their continent.
I was out winding through the most exquisite countryside for five hours. Up steep grades, down into canyons, across high bridges and through tunnels and around curves and curves of the old Columbia River Highway. I found a sign with a quote from one of the highway builders, who gave thanks for the opportunity to build such a frame for the beauty created by Himself. That is the kind of religion that I think we need to always strive for: assume humility, and if we must change our world through the building of human structures, find a way to change it while preserving as much of the original as possible.
The Columbia River Highway is still bound by hand built stone walls, concrete light posts with pine cones worked into the ionic columns, and lovely small touches such as stone benches built right into the walls. I stopped at the Vista House, which was closed, perched on the edge of a cliff; the pinnacle of a spiraling highway which drops to the majestic Columbia River itself.
The views were astonishing, even between shreds of stratofractus. I hiked to waterfalls, I collected leaves, I got wet in the rain. It was getting dark when I finally headed for home, and felt like I had managed to get away from the edge of the abyss and distract my focus long enough to see all the beauty and potential joy that always surrounds me, just waiting patiently for my attention.