The Cruel Month
“Ya know you gotta get out!” “Yeah, I know, but it’s so dark, dreary, and damp.” “So?” The voices who live in my mind–maybe you have them too–had been chattering at me for several days now. Eyeing the calendar my mouth formed a knowing smirk. Aww..February! Having lived in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for most of my adult life, I have come to dread February. Actually, I start dreading February in June. While most folks are reveling in the longest day of the year, I can be found in a fetal position under a sunlamp mourning another round of declining light. The turning tide of December 21 gives a little comfort but by February, I am depleted. Despite the mega doses of Vitamin D, all my cells are chanting: SOL! SOL! SOL! And February is cruel–it often teases one with 7-10 days of sucker sunshine before shivering back into wintry rains. I am not amused.
I know what works for me is getting outdoors no matter what. Still, by late Friday afternoon I am on the losing side of the argument. Now in danger of spending my whole 3 days off hermit-style in my cozy flat eating bad food and binge watching bad television. Muttering to myself, I absent mindly look at the text message that just popped up. A friend shares some not so good medical news. Double-edged–this message cuts two ways: I am devasted for my friend and jolted to action for myself. Reminded of each day’s gift I promise myself some Saturday outdoor medicine.
Taking the Medicine
Waking early as usual I feel a familiar tingle at the back of my throat and fullness in my head. Yuck. Feels like a cold or flu. Originally I planned a longish hiking day trip via transit into the city’s hidden jewel–Forest Park. Touted as America’s Premier Urban Forest, it has over five thousand acres and 80 miles of hiking trails easily accessed at several points by transit routes. This park is a great resource for urbanites needing a dose of the outdoors. Feeling a little under the weather but determined to get out, I revert to my fail safe and head to Smith Bybee Wetlands. On the Columbia Slough 40 mile loop trail around Portland it is less than 5 miles from home. I manage a 20 mile roundtrip ride interrupted with a couple of soggy strolls on the boggy wetland trails. Lacking it’s summer vitality of interesting birds, beaver, deer and assorted aquatic life, the area still delivers a chorus of croaking frogs, assorted waterfowl who are flipping fish for dinner and multitudes of industrious little birds. Unfortunately, I cannot identify any of these and although I get a couple of interesting pictures of the action–none are sharp enough to post. Nevertheless the medicine works! I arrive home feeling a little worse for wear physically, but, mentally refreshed.
Life is Better in Hiking Boots
Still struggling a bit with the bug and still glad I got out. Tucked in, resting and reading my various books for the remainder of the weekend I leave you with a little Edward Abbey:
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome and dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end…where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.”
Currently reading: Desert Solitare, Edward Abbey (again), Stamped from the Beginning: The definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X.Keni (still and maybe always–I want to know this like the back of my hand), and Dream Hoarders: How the American Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why that is a Problem and to Do about it, by Richard Reeves.
What is your favorite get through the dreary days tip and what are you reading that inspires you or makes you think?