Back to James Creek today, back to the water and the trees, the stones and the moss, the glittering leaves and the ragged banks against the gurgling rush of the stream.
We went back because we had gotten a rather late start, and since we’ve not found any other place along a stream or river that we would like to return to, we went where we knew to go. Our surprise(?!), you can imagine, when we turned in onto Left Hand Canyon and drove into the extensive reconstruction of the road along the creek. The pullout where we used to park is now under twelve or more feet of soil, being used as a staging area for the spoils and the fill that are needed to rebuild the road up to James Town*.
Without any other viable options, we parked close by, and walked from there to where we used to go. The spot is still there, but now under a foot of water. No sandy beach, no place to spread out and laze about. I am not sure if the water is just higher due to greater flows, or if the roadwork which has changed the profile of the bank and narrowing the stream is artificially raising the water level. In either case, we continued tromping down the bank, not much further, and found a sweet gravel bar just below a large fallen tree. It was a little island in the stream that split the flow of water – just perfectly sized for us.
It was already late afternoon, Rumi had a pretty rough day (molars coming in like freight trains), so our time was relatively short. Short, but sweet none the less: we snacked, built a fort from river-rocks, took pictures, and generally enjoyed the feeling of being (almost) out in the middle of nowhere in particular, with not much of anything immediately around us… just the three of us, our two dogs, and a whole lot of clear cold water, forest, mountains, and the ever present breeze and sunlight through the trees.
This is where I go to experience communion*, with my own spirit, with the spirits of those I love, with the spirits of those I’ve lost, with the spirit of this place I dwell in. Being unclothed out in nature lets me get skin to skin with the place I am in, and learn in an immediate and tactile way how it, and I, are doing. Is it cold, am I cold? Is it clean, do I stay clean? Is it aggressive, is it soft, am I getting little injuries, am I navigating the landscape without getting hurt? Are there biting or stinging insects, am I on the dinner menu, am I a threat? Is it quiet (nature is mostly quiet – and when it’s not, it is always for a great reason!) . .. and on. This is the means to strip away (literally) all of the encumbrances of our lives as part of a large social web – and to be just ourselves, the nuclear family, alone and left to our wits in the kind of place which we have inhabited since inception*. It is like going to church, there to be subsumed into something larger than oneself, finding reverence, beauty, and a primal sort of biological grounding via place. It is a way to sit before the grandeur of Life, and allow that more or less undisturbed presence shape our own being and experiences. It is to be unprotected before the Universe, and rejoicing in finding that we fit right into it.
I am ever dumbfounded that of all the people in this world, I’d find and marry and have a child with the only other person I know (personally) who engages with their natural environment in this way. I so very grateful that Roxanne shares this sense of communion with me, it is, as an endeavor, a very large and meaningful part of our Love Story.
* Not this, as in this place, but “places like this”.
* The road was severely damaged in the Flood of 2013.
* I would not shy away from saying this is a rather rosy way to put this. Denis Dutton has a great TED talk on a related tangent.