when summer comes, we all get out more. we take more time to watch the sun slip slowly into
short nights. eventually, we all begin to glow. it’s more than a tan: it’s a quickening of the heart, a
harmonic of life force.
summer makes life more alive.
with three intrepid companions, I recently stand-up paddleboarded down 500 miles of the
Columbia River. we started in mid-May, in Northern Washington, where spring still rained. the
river was frigid below, and hail fell from steely clouds above. shivering at night in our tents, we
would have welcomed sturdier shelter. we got cold and we got tired, but not sick.
during the first few eight-hour paddles, thoughts flew through my head like birds in the wind.
ideas, doubts, hypothetical conversations. and then, on day three, the winds calmed. our
paddles were the sole disturbance on the river’s glasswater surface. I watched the cliffs rising
high above the river’s banks, studded with trees or rubbled in ochre columns. the day’s sun
swung over my head. we paddled, and paddled, and paddled.
and paddled, and paddled, and paddled. and we camped, every night, for three weeks; in the
desert heat, in RV parks, under the stars. the only things we truly missed were fresh vegetables.
I had a moment to myself on the last evening that we camped out, just after I built a campfire.
our food sat to my left on a picnic table. there was a twitching sound and I glanced over: a tiny
chipmunk, striped, froze atop the case. we stared in stillness.
then I looked back at the fire. the chipmunk darted into the ferns. I watched the fire and
breathed. the animals of the trip wandered back to my mind. the eagles up north, the swallows,
the jumping trout, salmon and walleye, herons, deer, coyotes, pelicans, geese, ducks.
the journey felt like a long summer, and by the end, though we were weary, we all gave off a
glow. the vibrant glow of vitality.
being outdoors, with the wild animals, and beauty, and wind, and feeling calmer and healthier
than ever, feeling healed of all worries, I wondered about glassybaby’s 3-part giving mission: “to
help people, animals, and the planet heal.”
maybe our giving mission doesn’t have three parts, after all, maybe it’s just one.
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