Time to shift gears. It’s an apt metaphor, even with an automatic transmission, for a journey from the Mexican to Canadian border in six long days of driving. As I write this I am ensconced in a hotel outside Seattle. I’ve done it. The long hours on the road are behind me, and the sights are now wonderful memories.
What remains are visits with friends in the area, and about 100 miles of northbound road. All the things that could have gone wrong haven’t, and I am right on schedule to cross tomorrow morning.
The day before yesterday at Mt. Rainier I chose to wait until the next morning to visit the famous wildflower fields that are the number one summer attraction at the park. I was tired and I wanted to be fresh for it. As luck would (or wouldn’t) have it, the morning was gray and drizzly, but I set out back up the mountain anyway, hoping the fields would be above the clouds. Unfortunately they were right in the middle, and visibility was less than ten feet. No mountain, no flowers.
I can picture my friends in the Northwest saying, “ Get used to it,” as my never-consider-the-weather Southern California self makes the adjustment to nature laughing at my plans.
Of course I was disappointed, but it was pretty easy to find my way back to gratitude. I have seen so much, including Mt. Rainier closer up than the flower fields, and there have been a lot of wildflowers to see, even if not dense acres of them in one spot. I saw the Oregon Coast, I saw Mt. Shasta, I saw Crater Lake, I saw the Columbia River, I saw Fort Clatsop ( see last post). The weather was perfect for all of them.
This is the third time in memory that fog has dashed my hopes. The first was when I scattered my son’s ashes at Nordkapp, so they could merge into the dust that lights up the Aurora Borealis. The second was in Bhutan, when the summit from which we might have seen the Himalayas was so socked in we could barely see the trees on the other side of the road. Likewise, Mt. Rainier was towering over me in the mist just as surely as on a clear day.
I scattered my son’s ashes in the middle of the lowest period in my life, when I struggled every day for a modicum of happiness. I couldn’t see ahead then, and the fog seemed so apt. The last two experiences have come at far better times for me, but the message is still the same. Just because I can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. Like whatever lies in the future, we just have to wait for our minds and hearts to be ready, and then be astonished, when the fog lifts, by what has been there all along.