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Photo credit – Chris D’ardenne

The initial thump that sounds like the beginning of an earthquake, but is really the heater revving up for the night, but nonetheless makes my heart jump in fear.

5:37am ripped from an anxiety dream about taking care of babies (both of them) by the scream of a baby’s (the girl one) anxiety dream down the hall.

Two jack hammers across the street taking down a brick wall from the top of the art museum, a buldozer-ey thing with incessant back-up beeping digging a trench next to the curb.

Freshly jack-hammered bricks dropped from the top of the building that land in a hollow dumpster that sounds like a not-so-distant bomb going off. All day. The non-rythmic surprise of the boom keeps me still, tensed for the next detonation.

The semi-electric bus stops across the street and when it departs it sounds like a fucking rocket taking off.

The fire engine stopping in front of the library, coming to rescue someone without a home or without drugs or too many drugs. The inevitable siren of the police car that must follow the first responders.

The slam of the door every time someone enters and then exits this building. Because the door must stay closed. Because of the jack hammering, bulldozer-ey blitzkreig over the threshold.

By 2pm my shoulders have crept up around my ears, trying to block it all without resorting to earmuffs. But the booms travel under the street to resonate underneath my desk, sending the sound up through the soles of my sensible flats into my now-over sensitized brain, so earmuffs wouldn’t work anyway.

My breath reaches only to my throat, keeping it shallow and quiet to maintain some calm; if I dared to breathe deeply, I’d only let in more sound? Or, more likely, I’d cross my own threshold of sanity and run screaming down the block, past the book store, past the sage smudging shop, past the library, to where? The edge of the water? The liquor store? My bed?

 

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Photo credit Jay Goodrich

It snows very rarely in our local mountains that peak out at under 5,000 feet and usually by the time you get to the snowy part, it’s melted. This particular time I’m remembering must have been in the early 90s, my most recent memory of snow. I drove up as high as I could get and parked by the side of the road. There was no one around. I wandered down a path through the chaparral that was heavy and as surprised as I was by such a snowfall. I crunched through about 2 inches of snow-coney snow down a rutted out truck track. I eventually became aware of the absolute quiet.  There was no wind, no overhead planes, no cars or people. Even the birds were frozen mute in the rare beauty of a morning of snow with an ocean view. I kept walking as the snow turned into mud beneath my feet.

The snow fall’s muffling was the big surprise of the day. Stuffing the world with cotton, so that you can hear (and see) only your own breath. Imagine that on top of a coastal range; seeing your breath blow out across the Pacific.

Determination

Photo credit Ed Fuhr

Days like today I feel like I am clinging to the side of a cliff, scratching desperately to pull myself to – what? The edge of the water? The liquor store? To bed? To somewhere. Somewhere quiet. So quiet and with enough time to stop all the fidgeting and posting and liking and picture-taking. To stop the worrying and projecting and resenting and doubting.

Time enough and peace enough to start dreaming and thinking. To start creating. Producing. Road-mapping the way to successful love and more meaningful days.

In thinking about mountains and snow, the grandest I’ve never been to are the Tetons. I’ve been to Aspen, but in July so the only snow I saw was while standing snow-free and breathless at 11,000 feet looking across to the even higher snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

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Sunset at Snake River Overlook, 1942 – Ansel Adams, of course.

All I know of the Tetons is what Ansel Adams romanticized for me in his photo with the Snake River silver-snaking its way toward the peaks. I imagine the Tetons to be, obviously, quite different than our shallow range here on the coast. Ours are more hills than peaks in comparison. Less jagged, more friendly maybe. But the Tetons are the Gothic cathedrals to our adobe Missions. A more impressive place to worship.

At just under 8,000 feet, Aspen is the highest place I’ve ever spent some time and I couldn’t catch my breath the entire week I was there. The peaks of the Tetons are at 13,000 feet; not that I would climb a peak like that. But shit, that’s high.

And I would imagine if you are standing in the valley of the Snake River looking up, it’s pretty impressive. Heroically impressive. Like, maybe it’s so impressive that the medicine that natural wonders possess will rush into my bloodstream like an IV hook-up. Natural Xanax. A mountain-high antidote to relieve the pressure in my chest.

And I’ll bet you, up that high and buried in February snow, it’s pretty damn quiet.

Sooooo…    here we go. #tetonsfebruary2017   #checkingoffthebucketlist

Carpe Diem and Peace Out.

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