Settling (or Beyond the Sidewalk)

Heywood. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

Pulling the leash taught, he looked wistfully down the road. Turning his head toward me his brown eyes yearned to explore beyond the side walk.

“No. I don’t want a car to splash on me. Look at the size of those puddles,” I said calmly.

He turned and continued his wistful look followed by yearning brown eyes.

“No, not this time,” I said firmly and without harshness.

He turned and looked down the two-lane road. I waited. He looked back at me, using every cute bone in his body (he has many) to plead his case.


He yearned and turned back to me.

I nodded my head back the way we came. Letting out a sigh (really), he gave up. Moments later he found the perfect spot and we returned to the warmth of the indoors.

Like my beloved Heywood, we often have to settle in life. I’ve found that sometimes, not always, but often enough my yearning for the land beyond the sidewalk is not what I need. Sometimes settling isn’t settling at all. It is finding the joy in the perfect spot I’d passed by on my desire to go beyond the sidewalk.

Beneath the Blanket

Beneath the Blanket

They said sun & sixty; 
I got gloom and forty-eight. 

Anticipating fifties & vanishing clouds; 
I got forties and a brown pudding path.

Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0
Damp Joy. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

Exhausted and wounded by the chaotic clamor of recent weeks, I sought a sequestering salve on Wind Mountain. I trusted the early forecast and scheduled my week so that I could hike in sunshine and sit at the peak breathing in the expansive view of the Columbia River Gorge. It was the balm I deserved and needed I told myself.

Driving to the cinder cone mountain, the place of ancient spirit quests, the clouds did not lift. I changed the setting of my wipers from off to intermittent and eventually to low as I drove along southwest Washington’s Highway 14.

I parked at the lonely trailhead and began my hike. Though it didn’t last, I was pleased to start my journey under dry if overcast skies.

In the Fog. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0
In the Fog. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

I was soon reminded that the divine breath that blows cold in early spring, is a moist liniment that provokes seasonal resurrections. Among the early blossoms, the changing colors reflected sunny days past and yet-to-be. The absence of human noise floated downward on drops of rain that washed the collected noise from my mind.

Nearing the bend to the westside of the mountain, I could hear the Gorge winds and half-frozen rain howl and clatter on the trees. My eyeglasses fogged on the final ascent while my tightly held hood restricted my peripheral views.

Clinging Hope
Clinging Hope. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

Stumbling, I pulled off my glasses to see through the condensation, and my nearsightedness kept me from visual clarity. A quick loop around the viewing areas, a glance at the low-hanging cloud behind which Mts. Adams and St. Helens hid, a pause at the contorted trees I remembered from previous treks, and I began my descent.

As I moved down the east side of the old cinder cone mountain, I noted my spirit was lighter. The blockages in my head were clearing; my synapses fired as if equipped with new spark plugs.

I’d planned for sun and sixty while expecting fifties and vanishing clouds, but they were unnecessary. Beneath the misty blanket, immersed in the sacred fibers of moisture, the spirit of that sacred place applied the medicinal balm I sought.

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More photos June 2014
Perceiving & Becoming July 7, 2014
More photos April 8, 2015
Video: Wind Mountain summit April 8, 2015






Roar, Crackle, & Squawk!

Roar, Crackle, & Squawk!

My toes warm,
As the fire crackles at my feet.

My breathing slows,
As the tide roars in the distance.

I am connected to the earth,
As the birds sing and squawk around me.

Peace descends,
And my essence remembers who I am.

Photo by Tim Graves
A trio of Steller’s Jays joined us at our campground in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area during August. This one shows off its bold blue tail feathers. Photo by Tim Graves