Last night was a capper. The train ran right through the tent about every two hours and at one point it started to rain intermittently. In the morning I didn’t make it to the bathroom in time… a private humiliation to close out a challenging, wonderful adventure.
Mt. Shasta is an old home to Michael and thus to me. Yesterday afternoon I climbed high up to the rim of the avalanche bowl to where I’d released his ashes. Like a fanatic I looked on the rock surfaces for any bit of bony ash then sat and cried. Old pain but pain all the same. I was grateful that I can still hike up into this incredible height and raced down the mountain to go to a movie, since that is what he would have done. Miraculously it was about an area rich with Michael memory—Lander, Wyoming.
This trip was built on facing fears, seeing new beauty, laying down new track but also seeing old beloved friends. In Corvallis I was able to go out to dinner and stay with Valori George and Courtney Childs, her partner. I love to listen to Valori like she is chocolate cake, the most scrumptious and wonderful teller of real life stories of anyone I know. Life in Valori’s telling is fascinating and full of important but unrecognized heroes. I’m like a child at story time, rapt on whatever quiet time carpet that can be mustered. Being with them is to be filled with grace and good food.
I also visited my friend Jan Meyer in Medford. She was a pediatric nurse practitioner for 54 years and just let her license go. She still plays concert violin and shoots balloons from horseback… what? At 82, sure why not? She’s got a rascal man friend who is still a practicing attorney named Bill and a Jack who is like Selkie is to me. She gave me shelter and I love her smile like she is Love itself.
Selkie has suffered with my endless driving distances, packing and unpacking of the car, belated meals and treats, too rigorous and not rigorous enough walks and shared thousands of doggy pettings twix my hands (and hundreds of strangers,) and her increasingly long haired body. I can’t imagine how the trip would have gone without her!
Yesterday I charged at the Safeway in Ashland and now I’m at the Chevrolet dealership (Lithia) in Redding, listening to muzak and appreciating the air conditioned waiting room. I envision we will be getting home while it is still hot with a few hours to go jump in the creek and unpack before dark. I imagine there will be some changes and maybe some things that will cause me pause with disappointment or irritation, other things that I will surge with gratitude over. One thing is sure though. My bed will be there and in the morning, my job as a women’s health care nurse practitioner will resume while Selkie reassumes the job of a bored house dog.
Where will the time in Alaska and Yukon sit in my brain? All that endless land, filled with beauty and livingness was only glimpsed but now it takes up space in my imagination. (The photo is from Valdez.) People across from me at the Mt. Shasta KOA were from Ancourage and had driven down the entire Alcan… I salute Alaskans, those arriving, those leaving and especially those staying. I wrap my memories in the present of where I am and hold my wild wonder as a cherished central feature of my being as I prepare to travel this last 90 miles to Home. (This photo is from spring when the columbines were flying around like butterflies… it will be a much dryer world, I know that.)