After a bit of a shaky start to the part of being on a vacation, the second day at Snowbird Lodge has opened with a light mist out on the valley below me. The green hills out there are varying shades of blueish greens depending on how close or how far they are from my vista. Again, the air is filled with the peeps of the bright yellow Gold Finches as they flit around the tree tops and come to eat at the feeders. Huge Swallowtail Butterflies graze on the lavender blooms on the butterfly shrubs and the distant rumbling of motorcycles comes rolling up from the valley, and then its deeply quiet again.
Behind me Mark is on the deck reviewing with his students the hows and what evers of taking a photograph. Most of them have a variety of nice cameras with absolutely no idea of what to do with them. We decided the other day that manuals are pointless, as they are too intimidating to read, and so they are always put away with the purchase box, and the camera remains largely unused until some enlightenment can be found. This is what Mark is so good at, removing the mystic and letting it be simple. He is very good teacher at this and his students today are eager to learn.
This is day two of vacation here. As I said first day was marred with the news from home that a good friend and his lovely new wife had been in a motorcycle accident. He is dead and the wife is now in critical care waiting to see if she will lose her right leg. Tragedy knows no boundaries of place or timing. I can do nothing from here but feel the sorrow for them and their friends and family. I am not a big fan of riding motorcycles as the risk is not worth the reward to me, but I do understand their appeal to others. Life is is all about its measured risks and how we enjoy being challenged, to either conquer or to be conquered, and hopefully the first. Joe found his pleasure in riding and he was many things, but chief among them was that he was a very nice fellow. He and his new wife, now a tragically young widow, both were/are well liked by all. Tragedy wears many faces and this is one is very saddening to many.
There is a wise saying, however, which goes, to “Be here, now”. Not to put the horrible news in denial mode, rather, it is best to move to this moment of our being here and why. For all of our married years we have made a retreat in the summer to either the mountains or to Maine, usually in the doldrums of August, the month of my birthday, to escape the accumulated oppression of the heat of the south. Once again we are in the mountains, at a place we first encountered back in our college days, totally by chance having stumbled upon it. Later we visited again, the place under new ownership and remodeled, but still the magic of the vista and the space remains the charm. The lodge is old and framed with huge dark beams, the walls paneled with honey colored pine, and the patios are paved with flat sandstone. The walls are lined with books of all descriptions and the four top tables are home to chess boards and domino games. The overstuffed furniture is well worn and comfortable and let one have good excuse to sit and ponder the view from the huge windowed wall facing the mountains beyond, and to remember what is like to breathe, and to relax.
There is so much stress involved in leaving the farm, the horses, the dogs, trying to tie up details that hopefully will hold until we return. It is very hard to leave and to let go. But once, in the car, it is like being pushed along like a leaf in a stream, with no real rudder of the direction or control over the events that may or may not happen. To go on a quest, an adventure not knowing the outcome, to hopefully drift peacefully along to leave the daily grind behind and to simply be surprised. If it works, it restores one’s soul, at least, for a while.
A daily routine begins here with breakfast, then its on to Mark teaching his students until their eyes glaze with dumfounding information over load. He eventually releases them to go and practice what they have heard and we generally eat our lunch and plan the afternoon activity. Last year’s encounter with the hornets have ruled out the idea of wandering in search of waterfalls down in remote canyons and so water related things have been the plan to pursue.
Yesterday we drove a short way to a lovely blue lake where we borrowed a canoe and two of our group chose paddle boards. Neither of us had tried to do the paddle board thing but it looked intriguing enough for an effort to learn it, and so Mark and our friend Ellen went first. Paddle board is supposedly the new thing in water sports but it looks fairly benign to me. I had only seen it done once and that was in the early morning down at the beach and the person was moving at a snail pace, in a mediative state, no adrenalin pumping there. It consists of a person standing on what looks like a surf board and paddling along with a long paddle. The point to me is unclear, and perhaps as one gets better at it, it may get more adventurous and enjoyable.
The learning curve was steep as guessed. One starts off on your knees, searching for the balance point and the most stable spot on the board. Then carefully one stands up. At first both of them stood with shaking knees and trembling legs, tight muscles, very tense, creeping along, daring to touch the paddle to the water. Tom and I took the canoe and easily glided along beside them waiting to seeing which would dump into the cool water first. Eventually both stood all the way up and we moved along the undulating shoreline of the mountain lake. My bum shoulder withstood the strain of paddling and I found it fun to dip into the water and to pull hard, something I had not been able to do in a long time. It felt good.
Back at the lodge, cocktail hour was followed by a wonderful dinner, which was followed by our usual domino match with our friends Ellen and Tom. This has been an ongoing tradition for several years and Tom has managed to redeem himself after his initial game with us with a perfect score of zero points. He won last night, thoroughly. Tonight we shall see if his luck holds or if the victory will move on to another. We take our game very seriously.
I suspect the students in the class on the deck are getting pretty bewildered by now and soon Mark will let them go stumble about using their newly learned settings and armed with new ideas about composition, perhaps they will capture what they want to see in their new images. After I finish this post I think I will sketch for a while, maybe paint. Lunch will follow at some point and then the lazy pondering of potential adventure for the afternoon will be tossed about. My shoulders are looser and my attitude is improving, and time is beginning to slow down, and that, is the reason to be here, now.