Friday, August 25, 2017


What a month: August 13th I cycled a hundred miles for cancer research, August 16th I announced the re-release of my three novels, August 21st I observed a total solar eclipse.

My husband and I were invited to camp with friends at their nephew’s home in Camp Sherman, Oregon, a ranch at 3000 feet elevation in the Deschutes National Forest. Here at my Seattle desk, I can still smell the fragrant air: dry grass, wild flowers, ponderosa pines. And smoke.

We’d experienced two weeks of Canadian forest fire smoke in Seattle earlier in the month. Now we were again engulfed in smoke, this time from a fire only nine miles west of Sisters, Oregon. I found it unnerving. Camp Sherman is fifteen miles north of Sisters.
As we set up tents in a small meadow next to Canyon Creek in the late afternoon sun, I wasn’t mindful of the drop in temperature we’d later experience. That night when it fell to just above freezing, memories of childhood camping trips interrupted sleep: cold so intense feet became ice, head burrowed inside sleeping bag, condensation collecting. A thick woolen blanket from our hosts made the second night much more comfortable.

Sunday we hiked through burned snags and new growth, reminders of a forest fire fifteen years earlier. A terrible beauty. A wilderness restoring itself, the miracle of nature. My phone registered 9.1 miles, my blisters insisted more, but the eerie beauty made me oblivious to both until hours later.
We drove five and a half hours to Camp Sherman and thirteen hours to return to Seattle for one minute and forty-one seconds of magical magnificence. The sky darkened like winter dusk. The temperature dropped approximately twelve degrees. The moon crossed over the sun in perfect alignment leaving inky blackness surrounded by a glorious rim of fire. As it crossed in front of the sun, the craters of the moon allowed light to seek passage creating a spot of brilliance: a diamond ring.
Was it worth it? I’m asked. For me, those thirteen hours driving home were physically and mentally as tough as cycling a hundred miles the week prior. But was it worth it? Absolutely. It was more than a total solar eclipse. It was the generosity of our hosts, their family and friends, the communal meals, the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings. The totality of people, place, and natural phenomena made it a weekend I’ll never forget.  

What a month! And it’s not over yet …

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