Laughing Spiders

My dad saved my life when I was a little girl, or at least, that’s how I felt. My parents, sisters, and I were at our cabin for a weekend getaway in Sugarloaf, California, just south of Big Bear City. Sugar pines surrounded our little bungalow on the big corner lot in the mountains. We had just finished Mom’s lasagna dinner and everyone was relaxing in their own way for the rest of the evening. I was engrossed in a book, sitting on our coffee-colored sofa by our gray stone fireplace, and that’s when Dad noticed the spider heading for me at lightning speed. He caught it just before it began the climb onto my leg. In those days, any spider who found itself inside our home didn’t live to see the sunrise the next morning. For a little girl, this moment was traumatic, so these little pests have been the bane of my existence ever since. Even as I evolved into my teen years, they seemed to follow me everywhere.

These wee beasts spent much of their time in my peaceful and cool bathroom with the sky-blue walls and plush soft matching rugs. Never did they tour my parent’s bathroom. My mind drifts to the morning when I was about to take a shower, getting ready for another day of high school…as I turned the knob and looked up with eyes wide open, I watched a spider ride the waves of the cascading waterfall down, down, down. I jerked my head back just in time, and I cringed thinking of that eight-legged creature tangled up in my long hair.

Mornings began to fuel unfamiliar anxiety as spider social calls manifested soon after the crack of dawn. The sun brightened the sky and another high school day was on the horizon. I grabbed a towel to dry off after showering when I felt something unnatural. Looking down, I watched in horror as a brown spider scuttled across my chest. I jumped, avoiding a nasty fall in the tub, and brushed the spider off not caring where it landed. I just wanted it off my skin.

These creepy-crawlies seemingly watched for me so they could plan their next prank. During another shower with my head full of shampoo suds, I spotted a black spider near my feet. The dance I did wasn’t a happy one. With a swish here and there, my foot managed to nudge the scary intruder down the drain with ripples of water, as I imagined it whirling into the dark unknown of the water system. I quickly rinsed the suds out. Just as I felt calm run through my body, I looked down and saw that damn spider climbing out of the drain. This could only happen to me.

I’m not afraid of fangs digging into me. It’s the spider’s startling presence that makes me jump high enough to tap the moon. They appear when I least expect it, so any hope of building armor to avoid fear taking control is hopeless. And they have too many legs; this, combined with their sudden movements of jumping or crawling at high-speed, send me into a tizzy as my dad used to say. Also, from my view, spiders are not pretty. The visual doesn’t compare to reveling in the beauty of a swallowtail butterfly. In fact, their creepy looks propel me into a panic as much as their sudden company.

Even after five decades, I haven’t been able to shake my skittish reactions. Even though I’m a giant compared to the spider, with any fear, the source becomes magnified. So, I’ve diagnosed myself with arachnophobia. And the tale continues…

One unforgettable incident took place later in life. I’m now a wife and mom with two little children. On an evening like any other while my family was getting ready for bed, I walked through the house locking the front, patio, and kitchen doors. I turned the lights out in the living room, but noticed a dark spot the size of my palm on the carpet. I almost – almost – reached down to touch it, but a bell went off in my subconscious warning me not to. I turned on the light and staring back at me was a black hairy tarantula!

     “Oh, Shit!” I screamed, backing up slowly.

     “Uh, oh! I think Mom found a spider,” my husband, Matt, said to the kids. But he silently questioned the kind of spider that would cause me to shriek. This scenario sounded different from all the rest.

After I managed to widen the space between the tarantula and me, my feet felt like two cement blocks. Fear crept into my veins like a drug. I had never seen a tarantula up close, although I was thankful it stayed put. It didn’t budge at all. It wasn’t afraid of me. What a fiasco the night would’ve been if the tarantula had run. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about the thick-legged, ominous-looking intruder finding comfort beneath the sofas (that I would never again sit on).

Matt was taken back when he saw the reason for my shriek. He was also surprised I hadn’t passed out! My daughter instituted the trend of saving spiders with a glass and a paper plate. So, by grabbing those two items, Matt scooped up the uninvited guest while I held the door. Per my request, he walked far enough away from the house before setting the big guy free in the yard. No tarantula was killed in the telling of this event. Our front door had been open earlier in the evening with the screen door closed. Spiders can maneuver through any cracks, but I see homes on our block with front doors open all the time. Don’t spiders find their way into those homes, too, where prime opportunity awaits?

Several days after Matt had introduced “Harry” to his outdoor residence, my phobia eventually quieted down. Until, just recently, when I sat at the kitchen table typing on my laptop. I noticed a spider crawling over the top of the screen. It appeared like out of a horror flick, magnified by the white backdrop, growing to an enormous size – my skewed perception – as each leg made its way over the top. Since Matt was home, I yelled for his help. He grabbed the saving tools, but was too slow for the speedy spider. He’s off to the races! So, Matt lobbed the glass to me like we had teamed up for an egg toss.

     “Oh no, I missed him, too!”

     “Hon, it’s just a spider,” Matt said with a smile and a pinch of courage. He knew Harry’s disturbing image had been ingrained in my mind, and no matter how much effort I exerted, it was stuck there forever.

I couldn’t believe Matt said, just a spider, but I knew he was teasing because he always comes to my rescue. As it happened, this little fellow was faster than lightning, so maybe he fled the household.

     “He’s on the floor…hand me the glass!” Matt tried again. “Ahh, now I can’t see him; he blends into the tile.”

     “It’s time for the vacuum then; I’m so sorry, I said out loud. When I finished pushing the vacuum back and forth many times, relief washed over me because I assumed the spider had been swallowed into oblivion. Then guilt followed because we usually tried to save the creepy creatures. I sat down at the table again, but not before examining my laptop with eagle eyes to ensure no more spiders needed screen time.

Five minutes later, I saw the spider again!

     “Oh my gosh, Honey, he’s following me!”

     “Who’s following you?”

     “Who do you think is following me?!

I ignored Matt’s teasing, but without him hearing, I let a chuckle escape. All I wanted to do was send an email. I grabbed the glass but missed the spider again. Good thing Matt and I weren’t on a baseball team. The spider certainly had an agenda – still racing to who knows where and surely faster than us. My eyes stayed focused on the little pest as it made its way to the living room. I was sure he was having the time of his life – the furniture would turn out to be a guaranteed playground.

     “Just watch, I’ll find him on my chair in the morning,” I said.

     “Could be. Should I make a bigger pot of coffee?” Matt replied, as he took a step back hiding behind a grin.

It seemed I had survived yet another spider episode, and so I had! We didn’t see the eight-legged visitor again and extra coffee wasn’t needed.

Now that I’m approaching another decade, my eyesight isn’t as sharp. And yet, I’ve memorized a few spots on the carpet that just won’t disappear with any amount of scrubbing. So, I can distinguish between a spill to a creepy unwanted visitor. Admittedly, I don’t shower without a peek behind the curtain. Fully overcoming this fear most likely won’t happen. However, if I can save a spider and watch it skitter around in a glass, then make my way to the door to give it freedom, that’s progress. Amazing progress! Once outside, I gently lay the glass down and with leg synchronicity, the spider crawls out heading to the roses and lantana, making us both sigh with relief.

I never had a green thumb in the garden; the last thing I wanted to do was deliberately put my hands in a spider’s haven. Nowadays, I’m more in tune with the blooms in our yard than I’ve ever been. I don’t worry about the creepy-crawlies when I’m offering a drink to the thirsty blossoms. This evidence shows the fear doesn’t have the firm grip that it had in years past. I haven’t conquered arachnophobia one hundred percent, but I realize this phobia doesn’t prey only on me. Knowing I’m not alone while learning to exist with arachnids and acknowledging they’re not out to get me, is a work-in-progress. I’ve come a long way since that evening at the cabin when Dad saved my life. Maybe his reaction incited fear. Yet, if the spider had begun its ascent onto my leg, fear would’ve hurled into full force regardless.

And so, I wonder, had the spiders been laughing at me when their presence whirled me into a frenzy? My intentions were always good; I simply didn’t want to be roommates. Laughing with me would’ve been perfectly welcomed.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020
Please note: No images are included due to the aforementioned phobia.

A Glance

The pocket-sized community in Marin County became home twenty years ago. This town of deep-rooted cottages and newly modernized homes is tucked away nicely among the rolling hills. A variety of trees dot the neighborhood streets and as I look out my living room window, deer saunter by. This infers in me comfort, knowing nature and people can coexist in harmony.

Anywhere I go, whether it be to the local shopping center or to downtown for delicious dining, I am likely to run into a familiar face. But even in this cozy community, the streets can turn into a cluster of blinking lights. Regardless of its charm, this town succumbs to crowds and traffic jams.

When respite is needed, my husband and I take advantage of the beautiful outdoors in “our backyard.” This means a journey into West Marin – a favorite place on our map for day trips. In only a ten-minute drive west, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard takes us over White’s Hill where we exhale into relaxation. We pass what once was the shimmering emerald green lawn of San Geronimo Golf Club and cruise towards one of our favorite stops, the Lagunitas Deli, for a mouth-watering sandwich. This little market provides a few outdoor umbrellaed tables where patrons can sit, chat, and watch cars go by. Occasionally, we order our sandwiches to go, setting out for another favorite destination, Samuel P. Taylor Park.

After making a left turn into the park, we drive to the ranger station to check in, handing over a few bills for the day-use fee. Then we continue further into a magnificent redwood forest as though entering into a magical paradise. After parking the car, we unfold our legs and stretch, tipping our heads up to match the awe-inspiring Redwoods’ height. We stand in a world where breathing is easier.  Our eyes search for a picnic table by the Papermill Creek so we can be soothed by the sound of gentle flowing water – perfect music for unwinding. After the last bite of our sandwiches, we stroll around hand in hand, delighting in the laughter of children playing and the mesquite aroma of the barbecues. The group picnic site evokes special memories as we approach: birthday celebrations and college graduations with barbecued meats, bean bag tossing, cake, and camaraderie.

But the deli and park aren’t exclusive to pulling us out of the stop and go traffic back in town. We detour off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard by turning right on a side street, driving at the posted fifteen-miles-per-hour speed limit through the blink-of-an-eye town of Nicasio. This town is where the Rancho Nicasio restaurant and concert venue resides. The “barbecues on the lawn” find their way onto our summer to-do list each year: great food, a margarita or two, the tree-lined scenery, and band of the day. But when the sun sets, the atmosphere takes on a new alchemy – enchanting strings of lights and stars in the night sky twinkle to create an unforgettable evening.

Passing Nicasio and nearing Bear Valley Visitor Center where we’ve hiked and picnicked, our eyes notice the cows grazing in the pastures. They often lift their heads to see who’s passing by. We arrive at the center and wander through, reading displays on all types of wildlife: deer, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, gopher snakes, and great blue herons – education at our fingertips. I always manage to find something appealing in the gift shop: another t-shirt or bandanna to add to my collection, or one more book to keep others company in my bookcase, waiting to have their pages turned.

If we don’t plan to hike or picnic at the center, we head less than ten minutes away to the delightful town of Point Reyes Station. First stop, I spoil myself with a latte from Toby’s Coffee Bar. Toby’s is our favorite store in town. From chocolate, nuts, and jams, to shirts, jewelry, greeting cards, and books, this inviting store has everything! We mosey around, never walking out empty handed.

After finishing up at Toby’s with bags in hand, we enjoy one more spree and it’s for cheese! Stepping into Cowgirl Creamery, we hesitate, unsure of what delectable variety our palates crave: an Aged Sharp Cheddar or Gouda, a crumbly Goat cheese, or a Soft Brie or Camembert. When minds are made up, we add to the shuffling of bags with cheese in hand, and look for a table to savor it. If we didn’t lunch already, we may head to the Palace Market’s deli for a sandwich, saving the cheese for later. A bench suffices while we satisfy our hunger and watch regulars and visitors amble by. We then immerse ourselves into perusing each little shop with gusto. Point Reyes Station offers enjoyment for all. It’s a quaint town for a shopping expedition, to simply wander and window shop, or to satisfy appetites. It is the texture of Bay Area country living – a leisurely embrace of life.

Marin County brims with cozy and tranquil destinations where life is unhurried. These lovely locations offer reprieve from idling on crowded streets with frustrated drivers. We pause, crossing the threshold into a simpler time. Choosing whatever journey’s-end we prefer, Marin County is full of magic. We transport to where the air is refreshing, birds delightfully sing, trees welcome our company, and since the pace is easy-going, we actually have time to “smell the roses.”

This was written pre-Covid, but I’m optimistic that we’ll have the chance to repeat this adventure when life enters into a another new normal – one without masks and social distancing, when hugs and handshakes are welcomed, and smiles are seen again.

I hope you enjoyed! Lauren 💗
Photo credit: Google images for Samuel P Taylor picnic ground
& Pt. Reyes. All other photos are mine.

           

Her Offerings

Harmony lives in each flow of a breeze
In each gentle embrace of evergreens
The clear blue enchantingly shields
Let nothing stay concealed.

Blooms tender their affable smile
Leaves listen in for awhile
Birdsong soothes the whirling mind
A landscape perfectly designed
.

Nature’s lessons are plentiful
Shall our choices be flexible?
We are not ignorant to her offerings
Receive them for relief of suffering
.

A painting of beauty and brilliance
Mesmerizing even in distance
Can you deny the splendid view?
Allow serenity to fall into you
.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020
Photo: from our backyard

A Covid 4th of July!

Since my husband and I had yesterday off for the holiday, we took a drive on the back country roads, stopped at a deli along the way for takeout sandwiches, then headed to one of our favorite parks. Our morning began early because we wanted to dodge crowds due to Covid. We were prepared, though, ready to social distance and sport our masks when necessary.

When we arrived, the park was already half full with patrons eager to enjoy this beautiful day – temperature in the mid-seventies, perfect. We pulled into a parking stall, and before enjoying lunch, we ventured onto the trails for a good walk. Surrounded by Redwoods and all that nature offers in this outdoor playground is nothing short of magical.

We embraced serenity while walking along the creek, but were saddened by the deserted camp ground. Empty sites dotted the road – the new reality. Aww, but look at the Redwoods and how tall they stood: Proud and Majestic! Soft ferns sprinkled along the trail provided visual sustenance. Oh, but if you don’t watch where you’re going, among the beauty lies something wicked: poison oak! Don’t let its radiant red bursts of color fool you! If you aren’t wise, you’ll pay the price. We gently moved past the pretty red leaves, careful not to let them reach out and grab us. Then we stumbled upon a Bay tree adorned in woodpecker art. Look closely at the trunk; isn’t the texture interesting?

The comfortable side note was that not many people were out. We donned our masks now and then when needed, but we felt safe to brave the outside world and visit this park before the holiday crowd showed up later in the afternoon. The sandwiches were delicious and time together outdoors is always special. Time for reflection and a chance to chat about life without distractions – only the trees bend to listen to our whispers, and the leaves sway in the breeze, as if to wave when we walk by. This was a wonderful prelude to our Independence Day festivities this year when things are so strange and surreal.

To celebrate today, we’ll take a walk in the cool morning before the sun warms us up. We’ll enjoy the deer as they saunter by in the neighborhood. We’ll give thanks that Covid hasn’t touched anyone we know and love. When the clock strikes five o’clock, we’ll enjoy wine on the patio and our son who lives at home will join us. I’m thankful to have at least one of my children home to hug, even if he is 6’2” and 25 years old. Then Matt will perform his grilling magic for dinner. We’ll make it a good day because we’re employed and healthy. We miss our daughter and son-in-law in TN, but thanks to Facetime, we’ll see them this afternoon. Will this July 4th be memorable? It sure will, but not in a way that was intentional. And we’ll think of those who have perished and whose families are hurting and struggling to make sense of it all.

I wish you all a Happy 4th of July, too, in spite of the pandemic we’re living in.
Love and virtual hugs,
Lauren 💗

All Good Things

In these unsettling times, it’s important to find joy in each day,
even if digging a little deeper is necessary
. Anxiety, fear, and sadness
have certainly been fueled this year, which is reason enough to find things in life that make us happy. Throw in a dash of fun and a sprinkle of silly – bring on the smiles and laughter! It’s important for our mental and physical well being to find a balance so that all of our energy and focus isn’t directed only to the negative. I’m sure you’ve heard of a gratitude journal, so let’s count this post as one of my long journal entries, but first the visuals:

I’m grateful for another drive through the majestic redwoods and then onto Bolinas Ridge where the view of Stinson Beach was stunning – no fog or wind, just a glorious June day. I find joy in receiving fun gifts like the musical note earrings my daughter gave me because of our shared passion for music, and then the socks from her that tell me “I’m gorgeous, don’t change.” Wearing this kind of encouragement throughout the day is definitely a mood-booster.

I’m thankful for how I followed in Mom’s footsteps as my family indulges in sweet decadence once in a while, as well as baking for gifts. The plate of cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip, so don’t be shy! The cake was for a birthday: lemon with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting (all homemade). I also look forward to our relaxing patio time where we can talk about the day, make plans for tomorrow, and clink our glasses to celebrate being healthy and employed in these Covid times.

And then there are books! Can’t live without the exciting and adventurous worlds they draw me into. My son gave me “Little Fires Everywhere” not knowing anything about it. It turned out to be an engrossing and riveting read, and the mini series starring Reese Weatherperson and Kerry Washington was just as captivating. I found “Nineteen Minutes” listed on one of Stephen King’s book recommendations and am half-way through it. Can’t put it down either, but I must so that I can write this post! I highly recommend both books.

You see Copper lying on the bed…he was also enjoying “Little Fires Everywhere.” He is diligent in practicing how to relax and has become very good at it. 🙂 The love and joy this big puppy gives us is priceless. Oh, and look at Mini! As a child, I lived in Anaheim with Disneyland in my backyard. So, Mickey and Mini will always have a special place in my heart.

Nature provides serenity. It calms and emboldens us to look deeply within ourselves. It is a teacher of simplistic living, especially while backpacking. The sunset was taken at one of our favorite campgrounds, Look Lake – a gorgeous body of water in the Sierra without the crowds. The other photo is of Spider Lake that is a higher elevation, and I’m happy to report not one spider was found! Both destinations were perfect to take in the beauty around us, to spend time together, and to simply be. No technology, just a tent, a couple of chairs, and a picnic table. This is what we love to do, and we hope to venture onto the trails as long as our bodies will allow.

I hope you enjoyed these samples of some things in life that bring me joy – the list is never-ending. What do you lean towards in these times of uncertainty? What brings you calm? What turns your frown upside down? What makes you chuckle? Do you find that some of these photos bring you joy, too?

Wishing you a wonderful Friday and much joy in your days ahead,
Lauren
💗🎉💗🎉

Beauty along the way…

As Copper and I enjoyed our morning walk this morning,

Copper smelling the flowers by Steph

I couldn’t help notice the vibrant blooms along the way. Whether they blossom in our garden or in the neighborhood, they have served as an exceptional balm during this time of sheltering in place. Copper even knows when it’s time to slow down
and smell the flowers…

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“Miss Bougainvillea, luxuriant and sturdy,
unaware of her magical attributes.”
Yours truly

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“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Love is a flower you’ve got to let grow.”
John Lennon

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“The flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of today.”
Anonymous

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“After women, flowers are the most divine creation.”
🙂 Christian Dior 

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“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
Lady Bird Johnson

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“Bloom where you are planted.” Anonymous

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“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never 
crave the rose.” Anne Bronte

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“Their colors bring infinite joy
as they are cared for with pride.
The thorns do not lessen their beauty –
not one delicate petal is denied.”
Yours truly – an excerpt from one of my poems

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“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”
Theodore Roethke

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“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child
who knows poems.”

Rainer Marina Wilke

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A Cup of Spring

Miss Spring sips her tea
as we anticipate
her arrival.

She says, “Be patient,
I will soon bring you
colors so pleasing

and new life, delightful.
But first, Mr. Winter
must finish acting
out his scene.”

Yours truly

I believe Miss Spring kept her promise and I hope these gorgeous blooms were as soothing to you as they were to me. 

Lauren

 

 

 

Grieving with a Backpack On

The inevitable is happening – turning sixty is only a few years away, so what better time to experience a new adventure? When my children were young, my husband, Matt, often took them backpacking, teaching them about his lifelong passion. I, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever to carry a pack on my back. But since birthdays seemingly arrive faster and getting older is a sure thing, I was inspired to try something new. When the summer of 2017 came around, I told him I was ready to wear that pack and leave my footprints on the trail. I had enjoyed listening to my family’s tales of their past trips, but now I longed to be the narrator of my own stories.

Their trips were weekend get-a-ways, and although Matt had gone on two 50-milers in the past, these short outings were a subtle way of introducing backpacking to his family and much more manageable for his family. And so, my first trip was on a weekend in July, backpacking in Point Reyes not far from home. After pulling into the parking lot on a Friday afternoon, we “suited up” and I almost toppled over, feeling a bit like Lucille Ball in one of her slapstick scenes – although I managed to find balance eventually. 

When we found the trailhead, I had to document this new beginning with some photos, then we were on our way. The trail was fairly easy with a few minor inclines and dips. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but I was fixated on each step in my what-felt-like “moon” boots. The bulkiness took some getting used to, but it was humbling to carry everything I needed on my back. After just over an hour, we arrived at Coast Camp, sweaty and slightly dirty. Our site was nothing fancy, but it came with a picnic table which proved to be convenient. We set up the tent and made our wilderness bedroom as comfortable as possible. The trip was off to a great start…

We hiked around local trails, reveling in the beauty of the wildflowers – shades of yellows, reds, pinks, and purples – while the bees serenaded. We trekked down to the beach a few times where the temperature had dropped and the wind lost its temper. The ocean inhaled then exhaled, greeting us with a palpable roughness as if to say, “Don’t you dare come in.” We wouldn’t dare, but the sight was beautiful just the same. After trekking back to our campsite, we had a reaffirmed respect for the ocean.

Our dinners were convenient consisting of freeze-dried backpacking food such as beef stroganoff and chicken and dumplings. Occasionally, we indulged in our favorite desserts – raspberry crumble or apple crisp. All we had to do for hot meal preparation was heat water, pour, stir, wait a few minutes, and dinner was ready. In the morning when the sun rose, we had oatmeal and that cup of coffee, which hit the spot. Fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes, a little salami and crackers served as lunch. We definitely did not lack in nutrition or hunger.

We appreciated moments of sitting together in silence, reading, enjoying nature’s entertainment, or watching other hikers pass by. Everyone offered a familiar wave as though we were all members of the same backpacking club out for a weekend. Other than an unexpected allergy attack, the trip was a success. When Sunday morning arrived, knowing it was time to pack up and leave, I was sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end, yet I was eager for a hot shower. The drive home was picturesque on the quiet country roads with only the cows lifting their heads to see us as we drove by. We drifted into silence, absorbing the wonderful adventure we had together. A few days later, we jumped into the planning stages for our next adventure to Shealor Lakes in the Sierra for the following month.

Sometimes though, plans do not always work out. Soon after our July trip, my dad’s health suddenly weakened. He began having heart trouble, which initiated a much-needed hospital visit. Dad was ninety-seven years old, but surprisingly, he had never suffered through any major health issues. My family had no reason to believe he would not get the chance to blow out ninety-eight candles in two months. The only pain we knew he felt was missing Mom – his wife of sixty-seven years who had passed away five years prior. Dad was poked, prodded, and x-rayed, and after only three days in the hospital, he peacefully passed away.

It was all so strange – losing my dad, and at the same time having planned the trip. After talking to my sisters, they encouraged us to stick with our original plans. “It’s what Dad would want,” they said. I was unsure, but after much thought, we took my sisters’ advice. Yet, the slight guilt of going while it was all so fresh could not be ignored. If Dad was still in the hospital, I would have stayed, but he was at peace now, no longer suffering. In some otherworldly way, I felt his approval.

We began our four-hour drive a few days after Dad’s passing. After arriving, we unloaded our stuff and “suited up” just like on our first trip. While we prepared and packed, as well as on the drive, Matt repeated to me, “It’s only a mile and a half to the lake!” What he failed to mention was that the hike entailed an ascent over a huge granite dome. I stared at the dome that I was about to embark on and became anxious because I did not feel physically prepared. But Matt’s confidence in my ability was apparent, so we began the uphill hike. What was I going to do, back out now?

After hiking for forty-five minutes, we reached the top, and when I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, quenched our thirst and souls with water that tasted better than ever, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I felt relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and rested on a nearby log. I was so overwhelmed that I did not fight the tears. I let them roll down my cheeks with purpose. I cried for the loss of Dad and I cried for having completed this hike that I did not think I was capable of. I would have wiggled out graciously had I known the details much earlier.

Once the last tear had fallen, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water was a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough, but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.

This Sierra adventure provided a chance for hiking and granite-rock hopping. The sun was our alarm clock, bidding us good morning and night as it rose and faded behind the hills. In the evenings, we sat mesmerized by the campfire’s dancing flames and were enchanted by the dark, star-sprinkled sky. No matter where we explored, magic wrapped us in its warm embrace. This trip challenged my mind, body, and soul. I gained insight into my deepest being, learning not to limit myself. This amazing destination and experience proved to be the best medicine.

I approached that summer with enthusiasm for a new adventure to backpack and I am proud of my ascent over the granite dome. I often wonder if my grieving process would have been more difficult had I not agreed to go on the second trip. I will never know, but I believe I made the right choice at a time when my life unfortunately shifted in a hard-to-process direction. I thanked my sisters for encouraging us to go; their intuition knew it would be the right thing to do. Now, I can honestly say that my footprints are embedded in Point Reyes and the Sierra, and I am grateful to finally be my own narrator. I know Dad would be proud and I can not wait for a new story to emerge on the horizon.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Aglow

 

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On the little country road
to the country town we go
where hands on the clock
tick slow, slow, slow
leading to reflection
of memories that flow
where thoughts transport
to a time that stays aglow

Lauren Scott (c) 2018
Photo: Google Images