Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meditations from the Little Cottonwood Trail

I woke up either with the worst case of allergies I have ever had, or a summer head cold. Still, it was a gorgeous day, and the hike I had planned was pretty easy, so I set out on my first hike of the season. My husband was planning to paint on this hike, so I packed a small pack with some things to do:  a camera, bird book, slim paperback, small notebook, water and a snack. I figured that should tide me over while he painted.

Abandoned mill in Little Cottonwood Canyon

We quickly reached our destination, and I spent some time photographing. Today I had fun focusing on close up shots. The small automatic camera I packed is actually pretty good, and I had fun experimenting.

Little Cottonwood Creek

Rock Wall

Leaves over the creek.

Then I attempted to sketch. I don't think I have drawn anything in a couple of years. To say I was rusty is a gross understatement. Sketching didn't last long. I took pictures of my husband painting instead.

My husband has settled in to paint.

Okay, there are only so many shots you can take of a guy painting. So I pulled out my book. I had grabbed Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift From the Sea" off my shelf on impulse. It is on my list to read this year, and it was lightweight enough to stick in my pack. The opening pages swept me away with wonderful wisdom. 

"Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, and the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today's tides of all yesterday's scribblings. ...Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea."  --Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Here I was, in a very beautiful setting, trying to occupy myself. Suddenly it all seemed wrong. I put the book away, got comfortable, and looked around. The roar of the rushing water filled my ears. Occasionally, droplets of spray flew up and hit my skin. The air was cool and fresh. Wildflowers were starting to bloom. Two robins chased each other through the air.


I reflected on my fitness goal for this week:  meditation. I have had mild, but chronic, tension headaches for the past couple of months, and daily minutes of meditation and relaxation are starting to help. Why not meditate for a few minutes here? The water came into focus, and then blurred in my sight as I relaxed and let go of the tension in my face.  A mountain biker asked me for the time. I responded, and turned back to the water. Two hikers came and went. Meditation has as its goal a stillness of thought, however, distractions come. The important thing is to acknowledge them, and then let them go. Back to the mountain. Back to the water and the play of light on leaves.

I don't have Lindbergh's beach, but I do have the mountains. And for just a little while this morning, I had time.
Time to watch the light change on the ruins of the mill across the creek.
Time to watch the pattern of the water flow.

Time to see butterflies warm their wings in the sunshine.

Time for my hands to turn icy here by the snow-water rushing down stream.

Time to think.

Time to

For directions and info about hiking the Little Cottonwood Trail, click here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Hike of the Season

My summer list includes hiking. I am working to get in better physical shape, and have a couple of longer hikes I would love to do by autumn. My husband and I decided we had a long enough window in between dropping our teenager off at work and picking him up again to drive up the canyon and do a quick hike. (And no, the teenager cannot drive himself to work...he isn't 16 yet).

Abandoned mill on the Little Cottonwood Trail

For my first hike of the season, I chose the Little Cottonwood Trail. I have hiked it several times over the last few years, but my husband had never been on this trail. It is pretty kid friendly with a very gradual incline and lots of shade. The payoff at the end is the ruins of an old mill across the creek, and the rusting metal of an old car in the rocks. (I still have no idea how a car got up there, but today we met an older gentleman on the trail who said several years ago there used to be a bridge across the creek, strong enough to drive over).

Pieces of an old car.

One of my husband's contributions to our summer list was to "hike and paint." This is perfect for him, and gets mixed reviews from the family. Although we enjoy the hikes and soaking up nature while he paints, and have even painted a time or two ourselves, we are frequently done before he is. However, it was a beautiful day, and I was sure I could keep myself occupied for awhile, so off we went.

Wet, shady trail

The trail had a very wet section today. Usually when I do this hike, there is some water on one section of the trail, but today that section was a small stream, and I had to pick my way through it very carefully. This is a pretty easy hike, though, only 1.6 miles round trip. It took us about 30 minutes to reach our destination. The wildflowers were starting to bloom, the creek was full and cold with winter snow run-off, and it was a perfect morning to spend in the canyon.

mini-stream on the trail

Artist at play in the canyon.

And my husband got to paint. What do I do while he paints? Feed my inner shutterbug! Here are some samples from our hike:

Mill ruins

Long shadow.

Shadows on the rock.

Wildflowers in bloom.

Finished painting

For more information (driving directions, length of the hike, etc.) about the Little Cottonwood Trail, see my previous post about this great hike.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What's On Your Summer Bucket List?

I just finished reading a novel called "The Next Thing on My List," by Jill Smolinski. In this book, June Parker offers a young woman she just met a ride home. They are in a car accident, and the passenger, Marissa, dies. June finds a list Marissa had with her titled "20 Things to do Before My 25th Birthday." Marissa had only crossed off two things on her list. June is riddled with guilt over the accident, and decides to complete Marissa's list for her. Marissa's list includes things like "Run a 5K", and "Make Buddy Fitch Pay." This is a pretty light-hearted book, and a quick read. Smolinski weaves a good tale and June grows through her experiences of finishing Marissa's list.

I liked the idea of making lists of things to complete by my next birthday, rather than setting goals just at New Year's. But why wait for my birthday? With the advent of summer, it seemed like a good time to sit down and write a summer list with the family. My husband, son, and I sat down to write out our list.

Camping made our summer list.

Everyone got to contribute their ideas, and the list includes everything from A to pies to ziplines! We threw in "eating at a food truck," "driving 9-Mile Canyon," and "making homemade ice cream" as well. Suddenly my stay-cation summer is looking a whole lot better.

Homemade Apple Pie

I long for lazy summers with endless days stretching out before me, but the reality is I am not five years old anymore, and summer goes by too fast. Without a plan, I know we won't make the most of it. And honestly, I feel a bit cheated by my last two summers (cancer summer 2012 and broken ankle summer 2013). I am hoping to have a better summer this year.

Here are some other things on our summer list:
Make homemade slurpees
Visit the Olympic Park
Have a cookout in the canyon
Make s'mores in the backyard with our firepit
Visit the Hill Air Force Base Museum
Photography trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats

Western Tanager in our yard

Well, I have a list to complete--guess I had better get started!
What's on your list for summer?

Hiking made my list.