Cold, Healing Waters


Glistening evening light of Wolf Creek.

Here is an excerpt from my journal from July 16, 2017:

I almost forgot to do my daily ablutions in Wolf Creek today. This is rare. I finally did them as the last rays of sun filtered through stream-side trees making the creek look like flowing mercury. I soaked my legs – knees to ankles, which are itching and oozing from an encounter with poison ivy near Twisp. There isn’t much of it around here but of course my skin found it. I had had a day dream of perhaps never getting it again but then again our dreams aren’t necessarily realty. The cool water of Wolf Creek soothed my legs by basically making the numb.

The creek was breathtaking and I paused to watch the water tumble over rocks, sending spray skyward, catching the last rays of sunlight and refracting the light into multitudinous sparkles. Each spray of water seemed to hang in mid-air like the sunshine created a net upon which molecules were suspended in animation for a moment before falling back into the flow to join billions of others.

I knelt into the flow, splashing water on my face and realized that ablutions is not quite the right word for what I was doing. Yes, it involved water and prostrations of a sort but I wasn’t cleansing myself in any deep sort of way. Namely, I wasn’t washing away sin but rather I was saying hello to the creek each morning. Its a greeting and a way of connecting with place and by doing so the true self that is not separate from place. So “good morning Wolf Creek. How are you today?” And thank you for your cold, healing waters!

The Glittering Light of Aspen Leaves

Stone Meadow, mid-summer.

Nearly two months to the day after we arrived in the Methow Valley, we left Stone Meadow and moved a mere mile farther into Wolf Creek. Stone Meadow is both the house and land which welcomed us so warmly and completely upon our arrival. We didn’t know just how important it would be to have a first place to stay and one that we already knew so well (we stayed here every other visit to the Valley). Stone Meadow was where we first fell in love with this place and it made sense for us to return there before launching forth to an unknown nook of these amazing mountains. I remember our very first night, nearly six years ago, as we awaited the arrival of our friend. Kristin and I stood upstairs, sharing a beer and gazing wondrously at the land all around us. That very first night, we felt we had come home to a place we had never been before, and I knew that this was the place where I would live out my days and return to the earth at the end of them. My Great Changing would occur here. With each subsequent visit we were reminded of the deep, intuitive calling to live here and we have heeded that call. This all began at Stone Meadow. And now it is time for some place else to weave its thread into our tapestry. In gratitude I wrote these words on our final day:

This place, these stones, this sky

Intimate, still, and vast

Has seeped into my bones, and in my marrow

The ceaseless sound of flowing water.

The top of the Cozy Turtle (our bus/tiny home) and Stone Meadow sunset.

And so with a bittersweet taste in our souls, we loaded up the bus again like a covered wagon and moved on down the road. We are now on the land of a friend of a friend of a friend, still in the area known as Wolf Creek but farther northwest into the woods. There are towering ponderosa pines and Douglas-fir trees above the bus, which are home to nuthatch and the constantly chittering red squirrel (two of whom visited us in the bus on each of our first two nights there). This new land has a completely different vibe, view and feeling. There are views to the east and we awake each morning with the force of the sun, heating up the bus and shining on our faces. We cannot hear the ceaseless sound of Wolf Creek but the Methow River is a short walk away. There is the sound of wind through trees and the glittering light of aspen leaves fluttering in the sunlight. We don’t know how long we will be here but for now this place contains the whole of existence.

The Newness of the Day

Methow River at sunset.

I step out of the bus, into the full light of morning and I feel the sun’s warmth and energy on my skin. I wipe sleep from my eyes and then stretch my arms toward the bluebird sky. Grabbing my binoculars, I meander my way through a stony meadow, snaking my way around boulders and bitterbrush, serviceberry and choke cherry, heading towards the creek. As I slowly pick my way to the creek, I hear the songs of yellow warblers, cedar waxwings and others I do not know and the omnipresent background roar of the creek itself as it rushes down from glaciers high atop Gardner Mountain. I reach the tree-lined bank and take off my glasses as I crouch down to wash my face in the frigid water. This morning ritual of washing my face with cold water, awakens me to the day. I hear the whine of a mosquito and watch it alight on my forearm.

This is something I do every morning here and it now has become a ritual, which somehow makes it more than a random or careless act. In fact, I take great care with this ritual and even bow to and thank the creek and flowing water. Thanking it for what, I don’t know. Just thanks I suppose.

Methow River at sunset.

These morning ablutions, create a sense of newness and renewal and I let go with each splash of cold water and turn towards the burgeoning day. This day is a new day and this simple ritual may allow me to step more lightly upon my way. What if each step was taken as a ritual? What if each place was seen as sacred? What if each moment was seen as magical and all people chosen? What would our days be like then?

As this thought lingers a moment in my mind, I become reabsorbed by the rushing water and noise of Wolf Creek. Before turning towards the possibilities of the day, I pause a moment, bow and thank the creek for always being there – refreshing, cleansing and invigorating.

Written by David LaFever