A few days ago, I was lucky enough to drive up from Seattle to Mount Rainier. When we left, it looked like it was going to be the only sunny day we had all trip, so we wanted to take advantage of it and get a close up view of the oft hidden peak. As someone who traditionally adores the sun, and will do anything possible to avoid getting wet in the rain, the chance to get out in the uncharacteristically pleasant weather was too much to pass up.
Yet as we drove the two hours to the mountain gray, billowy clouds overtook the once sparkling sun and by the time we stepped out of our rental car to go for a short hike, it had begun to rain, and further up the mountain we even encountered snow. But for some reason, weather which would usually keep me inside seemed to be making the woods through which we walked even more enjoyable. Instead of seeing the rain as something to be avoided before returning to the safety of indoors, the drizzle became an extra sensory experience.
Sometimes in life, it can be easy to see anything challenging as bad, and when we don't like something to wish it away. If we can come to view these aspects of existence with appreciation instead of contempt, life becomes a lot more enjoyable. Although this is not always easy, even reaching this point every so often offers more perspective than one might think.
Even though the next time it rains, I may very well sprint from my school to my car, I still look forward to that next walk where I can simply be at peace and have a nice walk in the rain.
Photo is of Tahoma Creek, near the end of our walk. I navigated across the logs reaching the middle of the creek before walking back through the mossy forest to the car.
The weather seems to have been especially strange this winter many places in the US. What's the weather been like for you recently?
It started about five years ago. On the internet I saw a picture of a really janky looking pathway that was nothing more than some two by fours bolted high into the side of a mountain. I immediately wanted to go do it. I did some searches, but came up empty handed. The name and location of the mountain was a mystery.
A couple years later I saw another picture of the mountain, and this time it had a name. Hua Shan. I looked it up, and it was in the middle of China, two hours east of Xi'an.
When I booked a three week trip to China a few months back, I didn't have any good reason or any definite plans except for one-- get to Hua Shan and climb it.
So last Friday my friend Carl, who I'm staying with here, and I took a fourteen hour overnight train ride to Xi'an. Immediately after arriving, we wandered around until we found a bus going to Hua Shan. A two hour ride later, we walked up a hill to the ticket gate. We thought it would be free, and hadn't brought much money, so we walked back down the hill, found a bank, and came back to the ticket gate. From there we began our ascent.
The last time I wrote seems like a long time ago, even though it was only two days (I think?). It seems like it's been much longer, and I think part of that goes to the fact that I've been busy having fun all week. Really though, the past two days have been filled with a lot of adventure, deep conversation, and creative power. I guess I'll spell them out to you.
I left Calvin's place in Hattiesburg early in the morning to meet my good friend, Kori, 30 miles west in Columbia, MS. I stuffed my bike into the trunk of her car, and we were off to Red Bluff – a beautiful canyon-looking sinkhole made by the collapsing clay soil between Highway 587 and the Pearl River. It took us about an hour to actually find the place, but once we got there I knew that it was worth the wait. It's hard to believe that a place like Red Bluff could exist in Mississippi.
Hours spent in the hot sun passed by without a blink as we trekked the trails and played in the creek. We made pottery with the vibrantly colored clay abundant along the creek. I never knew the possibilities in colors of clay; purple, deep red, yellow, greenish blue, and white all in this small unknown bluff, which we dubbed “Heaven on Earth”. Barefoot, we followed the creek all the way down to were it meets the Pearl River. At that moment, with my feet six inches into the soil where the creek current yielded to the greater current of a larger stream and the crackly clay on my face drying as I stared into the Sun (I know I'm going to need glasses), I never felt more unified with nature.