Outdoors

Gifts of Summer

The sweetest of seasons
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In summer, the song sings itself.
—William Carlos Williams

The arrival of the Summer Solstice always takes me by surprise. I anticipate its appearance on the calendar throughout the long months of winter shadow and the liquid days of spring, eager for the glorious beginning of another summer and then, suddenly, here it is with open arms.

I remember summers as a boy; seemingly endless days of unfettered wandering and long, languid nights lit by fireflies. Time moved more slowly. I remember those moments with crystal clarity, the vivid memories somehow exempt from a growing forgetfulness. The ultimate kid’s holiday—the last day of school—opened like a gate to summer; caged birds taking wing. I can still feel it.

Now, of course, many years down the line, my appreciation for the beginning of summer is expressed in different—but no less celebratory—ways.

These days, I feel an ever-deepening sense of gratitude for the gift of another ecstatic season in the most beautiful place on Earth. And as the passing years make obvious, these dancing days of summer are fleeting indeed. Before you know it we’ll be moving along on our wobbling journey around the sun. Savoring this sweet season, it seems to me, is the thing to do. Make hay while the sun shines, my friends.

Go out and play.

Blue skies and green meadows and the Mardi Gras hues of wildflowers stimulate our senses. And what music! The Tibetan hum of bees in the sunshine, the harmonizing of a thousand birds, the whispered poetry of warm summer breezes—my favorite tunes.

Of course, to appreciate these gentle pleasures it is necessary to step away from our devices and find a path that will lead us away from the world of bells and whistles. Fortunately, paths such as these are plentiful. Our choices here in Cascadia are virtually without limit.

One can weave a beautiful season by blending the excitement of new explorations with the joyous revisiting of places that have become special over the years. This strategy works well for me.

And there are so many options!

Itching for the high places? Indications are that the road to Artist Point may be open by the 4th of July this year. You could spend the whole summer up in that neck of the woods and arrive in autumn with a smile on your face. Ptarmigan Ridge, Lake Ann, Table Mountain, Chain Lakes—all sacred places.

Like wildflowers? Skyline Divide might just be the ultimate. Time it right and you’ll be immersed in an alpine Garden of Eden. Of course, you’ll also be immersed in clouds of mosquitoes, but the right clothes, a few squirts of herbal repellent and a Zen mind will render that problem inconsequential.

And how nice that the Glacier Creek Road will be back in business after being off-line last summer, affording access to Heliotrope Ridge again. Oh, and don’t forget Yellow Aster Butte, the High Divide, Copper Ridge, Winchester Peak, Railroad Grade, etc.

A million ways to enjoy this sweetest of seasons.

A gift.

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