I got started a little later then intended on Friday (isn’t that always the way?), so the traffic was post-work, pre-weekend, I-want-to-get-the-fuck-home traffic. I skipped any preliminaries, such as stopping for firewood and made a beeline for the campground. Driving through Snohomish, I saw a gaggle of Canadian geese, rising from a field in formation. They seemed enormous against the evening sky. My father would have exclaimed, “I wish I had my gun!”
Once at the campground, realizing that there were no good riverside spots left, I opted for a site off by its lonesome; just perfect for me. I ended up with just enough time to get my tent up before the deluge hit. It became a meditative experience, lying in that small tent, with the rain beating mercilessly against its surface. I could distinguish between raindrops versus the bigger drops falling from the evergreen boughs above. At points the rain would sweep across the tent from one end to the other. Soon all the taps, drips and drops washed together and I feel asleep.
Sitting at campsite #20 on Saturday morning, watching robins tugging worms from the earth and black squirrels scurrying about as if they had something important to do, I was surprised to see that the campground was nearly full. There was the requisite barking dog and crying baby (aka bear bait.) The river sites were all taken, but then again, everyone was on top of their neighbor over there, and I preferred my semi-solitude on the highway side of the campground.
They’re not kidding when they call it the Mountain Loop Highway; Cars and trucks whizzing by all day long. I was surprised by the number of campers and hikers who had traveled out of the city to spend some time in the forest. I shouldn’t be too surprised though, since that was exactly what I was doing. But I had specifically waited until after Labor Day – nearly October – before making the trip...as did many others apparently.
I did appear to be the only one who had taken Monday off, because the campground was practically empty Sunday night. I felt like I had the river to myself and it was singing only to me. I laid beside the river and gazed up at the starry sky. I always enjoy watching the night skies in the city, but I knew I wasn't seeing as many stars as I would farther out. The multitude of stars was dizzying, and when I peered through my binoculars the sheer number of dead suns was too much; like looking at the eclipse without the proper pinhole.
I need to travel to the center of the state soon to binge on starlight. It's enlightening! Now it's back to work, pressing my favorite books into the hands of readers. I've returned to my Zen practice, which was part of the purpose of my little getaway. I'm too old to be hanging onto damaging thought patterns as if they were keeping me alive, when in fact those ancient regrets and resentments are cramping the style of my present moment. So, be gone stress! Before somebody drops a house on your too!