Posts Tagged ‘Vashon Island’

It’s a rainy day at the hostel on vashon island. It is quiet here and i crawl inside and memories of rainy days spent elsewhere come upon me. It is not the activity, or inactivity, i remember so much as the mood, and the desire to crawl within. I have slept a lot in my time here, and my body returns to a familiar sluggishness that comes with the rain and darker days. but it is spring now, and days get longer, and as i write this at 8:43 the sun still has not set. But i feel heavier now, like i did after my deep nap my first day here, that deep afternoon sleep where you wake up and your entire body is deeply creased from the clothes and blankets that dug in, and you wonder how you pressed so heavily so as to be marked so deep.

While the sleep was much need with the journeys into that other world and an emptiness of mind, when i lay too long the sadness creeps in and wants to settle inside. And why is this i ask? need it be so? And the answer is really – i don’t know. I know in theory it need not be, but it is such a familiar feeling returning to me. i have felt this way in my body and energy on so many rainy days spent inside before.

this morning as i prepared my heavier breakfast of oatmeal, i stared out the window as the clouds blew over the sun and lines of rain began to fall. A memory of a place and time long forgotten came upon me – a few rainy days at the Cosmic Cow Hostel south of Naniamo where i first WOOFed in April 2002. They were days of people and alone gathered inside against the rain, many movies watched and some talk, and trips outside to walk in the woods. While the landscape is similar, though more rural there, it was the heaviness and condensation in my body that brought on that memory. And with it came many others, in various country locations on Vancouver Island and the BC coast, rainy days in Tofino, courtenay, and Sechelt where i felt much the same, and i realized that for a long time this felt normal to me. But even then i knew something was off.

I know it is not just the pacific northwest, for times in the fall in the east came to me, a weekend reading in bed in montreal, and some endless days spent at pams outside of Buffalo. What these days have in common, is that they were lazy days where i could give into the feelings and crawl inside for awhile. After all is this not what rainy days are about? I watched a good movie from the collection of videocasettes, and drank tea and napped for a while.

When i arrived here in the sun my energy already felt denser to me, but the weather had already begun to shift that day; earlier there were periods of clouds and rain and the temperature had dropped several degrees. But i stood outside and stretched my body out, a little bit of yoga and qigong – neither of which i had done in a while. And it felt so good, for i had gotten into a zone in my head, and i have remembered to do some since i have been here. But this morning it felt more like a desperate quest, to move something along that was settling inside – a dense unease. Though i have meditated, but not as much as planned and sang to myself, still i feel the crawling or hiding within. but is this not a time to do just so, to assimilate and process the activities of late – is that not why we have rain and winter, a time to slow down and move inside.

For often when life is full of activity, outside and/or within, i have craved a rainy day where i could just be unto myself (or ideally with a loved one, and maybe that is the point). As i was writing this i remember some days camping in the rain, the days i rejoiced the chance just to sit in my tent, read, meditate, sing and sleep, integrate and process all that was in me. But after a while i also rejoiced (or craved) the sun and the ability to journey back out again.

And i know that at times rains are welcomed, and rejoiced upon, bringing an end or a release to what has building up, releasing heavy pressure or a crackling dry and nurturing the earth. But it is not the summer rains or thunderstorms i write about, but the cool constant rains of the northwest and similar locales or the rains of the fall.
These rains can become a weight holding you down, and while it need not be so, i am not alone in this feeling i know. The rain in the city is different quality altogether as it bounces off concrete and splashed upon you. For i remember the depression that came upon me in Vancouver and Victoria and elsewhere. But i think the difference is not only in the terrain, but in the level you are able to integrate the rain – to be with it outside or to journey to that space within.

I think of my last time in Seaside in an early rainy spring when i stayed about a week. sun had been predicted for two weekends before, but the rain had continued on and winter was getting stale. All everyone talked about how there would be sun for the weekend coming up, and i could sense the desperation in their voices. I felt that if there had been another weekend of rain, all would have a collective breakdown, But the sun did come and you could feel the mood shift as people looked up and walked with a bounce in their steps, smiling as they went along, and this is something i have detected many places after a long bout of rain.

But i also remember one weekend in Seward, where the sun did shine after 10 days of rain (and before another 17 but we did not know that then) where the town seem to crackle that day, as people let loose what they had been holding inside. i later heard that i was one of many who briefly walked off their jobs that day. And i remember the crackling of an energy shift that has happened several times as i have crossed over the mountains away from the coast leaving the heavy comfort behind. So different expressions can be released when it lifts.

I think some of my feelings might be the duration of the journey within – not merely with the rains, but with my life more broadly for i remember my time in ireland where the days of heavy rain alternated with those of sun and grey, and i was able to truly appreciate all. i also was more active and expansive there. So the journey within and the days to reflect were a balance to those i journeyed out. i is not merely what i do with the days, to reach for the beyond and bring joy and transform inside, but also the question if i spend too much time there. And i feel like i have spent too much time in that cave within.

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The pond is a world of its own. Birds flutter about with narrow pointed wings. an eagle soars and dives into the water, snatching something behind one of the hundreds of lilipads with bright yellow flowers that dot the surface. the pond is circled by densely packed trees in a second growth forest, mainly douglas firs, but a few across the way with bright shiny leaves. I cannot see beyond the perimeters of the pond, and thus it becomes contained unto itself. One cannot see beyond, and if one were born here, could one imagine that something lay outside. Today clouds form a layer above adding to the containment. Only the sound of planes above remind me that this is not all there is.

The pond is just a few minutes walk through forest paths from the hostel where i stay. But sitting here, or there, there is no indication that the other exists just a few hundred metres away. The hostel grounds with a huge lawn with teepees and camping spots are surrounded by a thick stand of douglas firs that you cannot see through, fronted by scotch broom in bloom. The trees form a barrier that encloses and marks the boundaries of the lawn containing what is within. If i had not once been told about the path that leads out, or seen the vaguely placed sign, would i have known the pond was there at all? Would i have walked the perimeter of the lawn, ventured around the edge, and found the path through the thick forest that leads to the world of the pond and beyond?

As i sat on a bench looking out on the lawn, before i ventured into the forest, i felt the trees closing in on me and realized that i have felt this way before. In many ways they form a fence or a wall, and all you are aware of is what is contained within. And they can seem to oppress and hold you in. There are no vistas to stretch the imagination, a visible place beyond where you may go or not. For this seems to be all there is. I feel less expansive here, closing in onto myself. At the same time I feel an urge to press on through but lack the vision of how and where, unable to see beyond. Nothing catches my eye or calls me forth. i see a barrier in front of me and i feel trapped.

When i came out here to the northwest i initially loved the denseness of the forests and many of the island channels and narrow valleys for they nurtured me and contained. I felt nurtured walking through the dense forest with is floor so lush and trees so grand. I wanted to crawl into narrow valleys, bays, sounds and fjords to receive the hug that they called forth. And in these locales i felt embraced, but then would feel the need to press beyond as the walls began to close in.

And the trees are forming one dense wall. I know there is a world beyond – after all i found the pond. But i do not see the paths, and there is nothing that calls. Do i need to crawl inside before i venture on out once again? I wished a place to rest and reflect, and i have done that to a certain extent. But i feel cut off and isolated and that barrier reminds me of that which sometimes exists between myself and the rest of the world. I know that all is interconnected, even that which is not visible at the time, and there is a way through.  but sometimes it is so hard to visualize when i cannot see the other side.

The hostel itself seems like the remnants of a dream, i can see the glory of what once was and imagine the days when it was full of life with all the teepees and wagons and dorm beds full. The hostel is still here and cared for with only a few guests, but the passion is gone . The place hangs on though the dream has died, and is that what i feel inside. Has the wall closed in on others too. But it is a wall of life, and one that can be passed through. And it can teach that the vision must come from inside – after all the pond is full of life.

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I sit in the field listening to songs – the songs of robins and other birds who fly and hop around. The sound is sweet to my ears, so pure and uplifting. Then a bee flies around my head with a buzz. It is so calming after the discordant cacophony of the city. Wind blows through tall douglas firs that mark the perimeter of the lawn.

I go into the woods or second growth forest around dusk and enter into the centre of a symphony in stereo sound. It is so engaging i almost feel it is played for me, but i know i am really irrelevant to the scene. Well, maybe except for the mosquitoes who buzz around my head, but they too are part of nature’s sound. I wish i knew the names of all the birds or how to write their individual sounds. It doesn’t matter anyhow, for one can still experience what one cannot name. Who says nature is quiet i ask to myself, as i immerse myself in the concert being performed.

I hear some voices and a dog bark in the distance and the occasional car pass by on the road, so i know i am not totally away from the sound of humanity. I go to bed early, just around dark, and listen to the wind blowing and the rain starting to lightly fall on the teepee i sleep in. I close my eyes to listen to the world around.

Then comes a dull roar and a screech in the sky, a heavy low growl up above. I imagine a giant bird, a monster or dragon of sorts, mouth open and gashing with pointy teeth, and arms with sharp claws. I listen and try to bury my head, but the roar continues on – all-pervasive above. It stops and starts and its sounds do vary – some louder, some softer but always with an industrial tone. For a moment, i feel like i have passed from heaven into hell. I am reminded that despite the angels’ songs and that i am on an island, i have not ventured truly away. The Sea-Tac airport is just across the water, and the planes pass over for a while. For a moment i am reminded of those nights i camped at Desolation Sound, on Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, and military planes practiced into the early evening hours, the screeches and screams and loud booms in the sky.

The next morning, I walk through the forest and stop to pause, mesmerized by the songs of the birds. A lone woman comes through on the path and asks me if i see anything. I say no i am just listening to the forest; it is so peaceful and calming after being in the middle of the city. She begins to respond, and then it comes, a roar up above, she gives a sigh and says yes, it is, some of the time.

I sit by the pond and listen again, an eagle joins into the concert, and different birds sing their songs, but then comes that noise again and for a moment drowns then all out. For a while it continues – a lower background noise – a contrast to the natural sounds around. The flying machines we humans have created emit a sound so different in vibration and tone than that of the flying creatures created by god. It makes me think about the power of sound, and wonder what we have done. With each i feel so different inside – one jangles my cells and i want to curl up and hide, and the other brings a smile to my face and i wish to dance around.

Can i block out just the noise of the planes overhead? If i wear earplugs, as so many do to sleep, then i cut out all sounds, and no longer hear the angels sing. Do i don headphones and listen to music as i walk through, but then too the angels cannot be heard, and i am so much more removed from all that surrounds. If i actively try to block the heavy industrial vibrations out, they become louder still, for my attention is there. I focus on the songs of the birds, and let the planes become background noise. Still, though i try to just let them be, i cannot be help but wonder what subtle effect they have on me, for all vibrations intertwine. But i remember the birds, and how they continue to sing so purely and sweetly beneath the roar of the sky, and i too begin to sing.

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