Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Soggy Sneaker Spring

This spring reminds me of why I left the rainforest. So. Much. Rain. Last year we were already swimming in Wallowa Lake in our wetsuits. Not this year, unless we want to court serious hypothermia. There is way too much snow to get far in the mountains, either. And I've been traveling for what seems like months. So what's a person to do? Go on short adventures.

We went to the ski trails to run and bike. Nobody else really uses them, but they make some nice loops. We emerge from the woods looking like drowned rats. On the way back, we ran into a cow jam:

There's also Power Lawn Mowing, where you run behind your mower praying for the rain to hold off long enough to finish. And lots of gym time with the usual suspects: Man Who Counts Reps Out Loud, Hiking Boot Elliptical User, and Duran Duran Listener.

It is really easy to let the rain get to you. I saw this a lot when I lived in Sitka. Some people embraced it, but others settled into a depression that was only alleviated by taking the ferry south. The rich people ran away in the winter, to Florida and Hawaii. The rest of us survived by deciding that the weather was like this everywhere, that this was all there was, no other parallel universe where people wore shorts and a bottle of sunscreen didn't last for five years. There could be a kind of comfort in the rain, shutting us off from a world that seemed increasingly volatile.

This was a nice day in Southeast Alaska--you can see the mountains!
So I bike and I run and occupy the gym and wait for the summer I know will come. Flash and I email back and forth about our PCT section hike: should we go stoveless? (Possibly.) Should we spend the night in Etna? (Probably.) Should we hike 20 mile days? (How about 17?) Flash runs two half marathons while I do little outings. Will she kick my butt on the trail? (Likely.)

I've lived in endless summer (Florida), endless rain (Alaska) and endless desert (Nevada). I like the space between the extremes. Lately I have been thinking about careers and being left behind as people I worked with on trail crews surge ahead. Others live without their spouses for years in a sort of commuter marriage. I decide in the end I just can't do it. I need the three spheres: work I don't hate, place I love, a person I adore. You can always add more spheres until it gets kind of ridiculous: running trails! A swimming pool! A dentist within 100 miles! But the core three is what matters.

It didn't always. I've been a traveler, chaser of new places. That's changed. I'm glad I had those wild seasonal years. It makes it easier to buckle down now, to get money in the bank, to mow the lawn even, instead of thinking, I'm mowing the lawn. What have I become?

Rain lends itself to musings like these. I'm looking forward to sun.



14 comments:

  1. "The rest of us survived by deciding that the weather was like this everywhere, that this was all there was, no other parallel universe where people wore shorts and a bottle of sunscreen didn't last for five years." <--This is how I cope too. Pretending those things don't exist makes it easier. So does dashing off inland where it IS summer helps too. :)

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    1. You do go on some great adventures!

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  2. Well said Mary, love this!!
    I truly believe that some things are better when shared and those are the most important things in our lives.....

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    1. Took me awhile, but I have realized that as well.

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  3. We've had a rainy spring here in CO, too, but this week finally showed its glory. Makes for beautiful wildflowers, right???

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    1. We have incredible flowers and I hear the morels are good also. Maybe we will get a long fall backpacking season.

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  4. "to mow the lawn even, instead of thinking, I'm mowing the lawn. What have I become?" I get that dichotomy for sure. But when you don't have your own place for long enough, even that irritating task becomes nostaligic in a way, a symbol of having something that's Yours, something you can choose what to do with. There are definitely some advantages to the nomadic life but there are grounding things I miss as a result (having my own chickens, my own garden, a compost pile).
    I did borrow a mower and mowed the pasture around my tent when I got back from Alaska, and I do love where I'm living, but it's not Mine. I do yearn for a place of my own.
    I can relate to your core three. The place I love is top of my list with a job I don't hate a close second. The person I adore just has to be close enough to visit reasonably often and that distance will be Much shorter come August. Eventually we hope to be in the same place on our own land, but until then this works well for me. You make the best of what you've got to work with.
    Now I just need the sun to come out!

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    1. I do love my cabin. I guess sometimes I want it all. I probably couldn't go back to the nomadic life for long, actually.

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  5. After living here in NW Oregon for nearly 30 years, I've gotten used to the rain and prefer it over hot, sunny weather. There's many places that have lots worse weather - and you don't have to shovel rain!

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    1. I love a good rain but definitely appreciate the sun. Mostly because it is so much easier to do the activities I like. Yes, I can be a wimp.

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  6. Power lawn mowing - Ha! We are doing the same here. I consider it part of my fitness plan. :-) Flash

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  7. We had a saying in Sitka: If you can see Mt. Verstovia, it's going to rain. If you can't see it, it is raining.

    But for some reasons the 12 years I lived in Sitka and Ketcikan the 270 rainy days a year didn't really bother me. I did always make good use of a nice day.

    So when I moved to the Interior, it took awhile to get used to the nice weather. If today is nice, tomorrow probably will be, too. And the next day.

    Growing up in Grangeville, Idaho, and going to school in Moscow, I remember April, May and the first half of June usually being rainy. But August and September being beautiful.

    In Fairbanks, our nicest weather is usually the last half of May and June, with August being rainy and September getting cold.

    Although when I moved here from Sitka in August of 1991, I was amused with people complaining about the rain--on a day that would be considered really nice in Sitka.

    Fairbanks gets about the same precipitation as Tucson, but is green because it's cooler and permafrost in many places keeps the moisture near the surface.

    I miss the drama of the coastal weather, but I have to admit I love the dry, sunny Interior weather--but with distinct seasons. And lots of daylight this time of year!

    Tom
    Fairbanks
    74 degrees, sunny and breezy--and the little, mean skeeters have come out early, so the breeze is nice.

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