Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mountain Air - Stars and Storms

top of a little fir tree
I've mentioned the smoke from the Rim Fire, and the stinging of eyes and throat. It all was a bit distracting. The discomfort made any mental focusing difficult, and one thought kept coming back to me: Will I have to cut my time short and go home? By the second morning, I knew I would be able to stay.

Naturally the stars were still there where I'd left them in July, and I did spend some time with my friends, but not the first night - I was a little altitude sick, and spent. Just give me a good bed, and I'll leave the window open so the cool mountain air will brush my cheek in the night, gently. The second night I also did not feel great, because of the smoke and the headache it gave me. I could only imagine that the stars were somewhat blocked out anyway.

But - surprise! - I woke at 2:30 in the morning, quite wide awake. It's not very cold, and I feel good. So I dragged a sleeping pad out onto the deck, shook my sleeping bag (brought just for this purpose) out of its stuff bag, and crawled inside. Hmmm....I am not in the best location; the eaves of the roof are blocking part of the show... so I hauled myself out, moved my bed and scooted back down inside.

I lay there looking up at the Milky Way and noticing again how the tall Lodgepole pines make a kind of ruffled edge to the pool of stars. They also hide some constellations I'd like to have seen, like the Little Dipper. Next I found that the umbrella was cutting into my view, so I rearranged myself and my pallet once more, and then stayed put for an hour and a half. During that time I stared a lot, and saw many shooting stars. Stars appear to be so alive, making the sky coldly electric and exciting with their sparkling. And I felt alive, too.

I tried to go back to sleep out on the deck, which is why I stayed so long. But that didn't work, so I went back to the bed by the window, from which I could actually see the stars a little.

One reason to make one's mountain vacation at least four nights long (or should we make that ten?) is so that you can have more possible nights for star-gazing. In the mountains you never know when a thunderstorm will come through for a couple of days, and that's what happened next. My remaining nights at the cabin were rainy, so I was really thankful God woke me up in the wee hours to have my Star Time.

I was sitting on the deck that afternoon, reading or sewing, when I noticed the sky clouding up. I could see that rain was falling in the northeast, and I heard the thunder very loud. Then lightning...but I resisted being driven indoors until an hour or two later when the sky was completely clouded over, and the temperature was dropping.

The kind of fire I'll build next time.
I had moved inside to the dining table by the picture window when I heard the patter of rain, and looked up to see dark spots appearing on the deck boards...what a blessing to have this Mountain Storm experience! It made me very contented. I thought of building a fire in the massive rock fireplace, but the weather didn't really call for it; I still had the doors and windows open as the temperature hadn't dropped that much.

Me sitting by that window in yesteryear

When the rain had stopped, and it was still not dark yet, I went out and stood looking out beyond the deck to the lake. I smelled the earth and the trees -- for the first time! I hadn't even noticed as I was entering the forest on my drive up, or anytime in the first two days, that the mountain air hadn't pressed its heady aromas on my senses. All I could think was that the smoke had been filling those olfactory spaces until the rain washed things up.


As I looked out and soaked up the quiet, and the moist and piney smell, a small doe picked her way through the rocks and little trees right below the cabin, not aware of me. It's the first time I've seen a deer that close to the house, and I counted it one more gift of the mountains.

8 comments:

Anastasia said...

You are making me very very envious. It all sounds so, well, the only word I can come up with is real.

Farm Girl said...

How nice to be able to see the stars like that. One November we were in Arizona at the Meteor Crater and I have never seen the sky that clear nor the Milky Way like that. I thought of that when you were talking about star gazing. I bet it was so nice to be out there on your deck with the sound in the tops of the trees. It sound lovely and tranquil and just perfect. I am glad the smoke cleared when you were there a bit.

Gumbo Lily said...

Beautiful gifts. I'm so glad you got a good night for star gazing.

magsmcc said...

This is a beautifully poetic post. thank you for it! We never see the stars at all clearly here in suburbia!

M.K. said...

Beautifully written post, GJ. Your descriptions are rich enough to enliven my own senses as I read them. I love the scent of pine trees. We have that hear also. And a sky full of stars, all alive as we head to sleep! Thank you for sharing.

Jeannette said...

My intrepid friend, so much is available to an appreciative heart! It brought much back to me too...thank you. And dear Yosemite and environs and all the fireworkers and little deer and people's cozy houses...and sweet mountain air...may the Rim Fire soon be truly contained and as you say much snow fall on the mountain realm and provide for next year's needs.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

lovely post, that first photo is especially beautiful. the fire is great and I bet smelling the pine was fabulous. I always loved smelling pine, cedar and sage when I visited New Mexico...some of the best scents in the world!

Anna said...

wonderful - we are very fortunate to have time in the mountains to wake up and smell the pine trees and see the stars! Wishing your mountains lots of snow.