Sunday, October 4, 2020

Mosaic Monday #99: My Escape

I consider myself a strong and resilient person, but even so, I occasionally need an escape.  From external pressures.  From expectations.  Yes, from other people.  It is in nature that I feel most free, so when my heart and soul was crying out for relief this week, I went to the woods and the water.

Spousal Unit and #1 Son had planned a fishing excursion to Finger Lake.  Fortuitously, the area has two other lakes within easy hiking distance, so I set my sights on visiting those two bodies of water, and meeting up with the boys at Finger Lake later in the afternoon.  I was practically licking my lips with anticipation.  

I could go at my own pace.  I could examine unknown plants and snap scads of photos.  If I wanted to pause and locate the bird singing overhead, I wouldn't be holding anyone up.   And if I was really lucky, I wouldn't encounter too many other hikers!

As we parted ways at the proverbial fork in the trail, the forest was quiet other than the cackle of an unseen pileated woodpecker and the scolding chatter of pine squirrels.  

Strands of spider silk across the trail, breaking gently on my face and arms, suggested that no humans or tall animals had traversed the trail this morning.  Cleansing breaths brought in aromas of fir and cedar and freshly fallen leaves, as though someone had recently burned a hundred Frasier Fir candles.  Nature's incense.  I could feel the tension melting away as I strolled toward Lagoni Lake.

As I approached the water, seven mergansers slipped off a log, entering the water with barely a ripple. It must have been a productive spring and a successful summer for the parents and the progeny.  A Belted Kingfisher swung across the lake with its undulating flight and rattling call.   The chip-chip alarm calls of the Oregon Juncos were a constant backdrop.  I poured myself a cup of coffee and pulled out Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water for a relaxing read.  

"For I am convinced that man has suffered in his separation from the soil and from the other living creatures of the world; the evolution of his intellect has outrun his needs as an animal, and as yet he must still, for security, look long at some portion of the earth as it was before he tampered with it."  from the Foreword, October 1959

I bid farewell to Lagoni and ambled along to Hole in the Wall Lake.  The day was remarkably still, and yet the slightest breath of air would cause leaves to slowly swirl in a downward spiral to alight softly on the ground.  It drew my eye to the roots arcing across the trail.  How many feet have trod this path, inexorably peeling off the soil, and revealing the ancient arteries of the trees?   

Two hand-hewn bridges cross small streams, and I examine the tracks in the mud.  Deer and dog of some description.  No bear, thank goodness!  In my mood that day, the bridges evoke symbolism - a connection between heaven and earth (the term "crossing over" comes to mind).  An opportunity to review one's current life - the word "bridge" in the broadest sense indicates that one needs to overcome an obstacle.  To some people, crossing a bridge signifies an important decision or a critical junction.  

I shake my head to clear my mind of these cobwebby thoughts, take a picture, and step firmly across the planks.

The forest is a patchwork quilt of greens, oranges, reds and yellows.  On hikes at other times of the year, my gaze is almost always at ground level, my eyes casting to and fro in search of new plants and blooms.  This day, I pause periodically and scan the bushes and trees for winged beauty.  It has long fascinated me that some sections of the forest seem devoid of birds, and then a random turning thrusts you among a small flock, flitting and hopping and simultaneously carrying on a busy bird conversation.  As all of you know, I am not a true birder.  I can't name most birds from their songs, and I don't own the equipment to take proper photos.  But I have absorbed copious amounts of information from those of you with birding blogs, and I am fairly certain that I spotted a Brown Creeper and a Cassin's Vireo. 

At Hole in the Wall Lake, my solitude was broken only by the occasional rustling of the paper-thin wings of dragonflies along the shoreline.   One pair rose majestically in the air, clasped in a dragonfly love embrace.  I cracked open the coffee and my book, and was lost in its words when I felt something alight on my leg.  A dragonfly.  I slowly and cautiously moved my phone closer and closer, snapping shots as I went. I am fairly certain this is a Mosaic Darner - could it be any more appropriate for Mosaic Monday? - but please feel free to correct me. In preparing this post, I enlarged various parts of the dragonfly - so fascinating.  Don't the compound eyes and jaws compose a jaunty-looking smile? The abdomen, with its splashes of electric blue, make me wonder about the purpose of the color.  But it was the detail of the wings that made me gasp.  So delicate and infinitely detailed, evoking images of a master in stained glass laboring for hours over the myriad of elaborate miniscule segments. 

My companion lifted off, most likely having decided I was neither a potential mate or a source of food, and I returned to reading.

"But to be quite alone where there are no other human beings is sharply exhilarating; it as though some pressure had suddenly been lifted, allowing an intense awareness of one's surroundings, a sharpening of the senses, and an intimate recognition of the teeming sub-human life around one."

I reluctantly departed the tranquility of the lake; I knew that I was likely heading into a more populated area.  Sigh.  As if it was a sign of things to come, I spotted this boot to one side of the trail.  Yes, you read that right.  Boot.  Just one.  I ask you, how do you lose ONE boot?  More curious still, a partial shell of a tennis ball was tucked inside.  A man without a boot, and a dog without its ball.  Does it get any sadder than that?  

I hiked a total of 5 miles, with approximately 1200 feet of elevation gain.  The area has several ridges running in parallel; while none of them rise higher than 3,500 feet, the valleys in between are deep.  The most cavernous are full of water - voila - lakes!  To access each lake, one must ascend and descend the ridges, which are steep for short distances.  It's like speed-dating but in a hiking context.  It's a pleasant change from our typical hike - a long, steady ascent to one lake in a cirque and a long, steady descent back to the trailhead. 

Finger Lake is popular in the summer since it features a large rock outcropping that lends itself to jumping.  The last time I was here, a whole family was taking turns; "1, 2, 3 - jump!" echoed around the lake time and again.  This day, I saw two men fishing near the rock, but they weren't my boys.  I enquired about the fishing, and their response was a positive one.  I strolled on, reckoning that my boys were on the northern end of the "Finger".

My solitude was further broken by two hikers and their black Lab, but shortly after I found a spot where I could see Man with Hat and #1 Son in the distance but only rarely hear the murmur of the other men's voices.  Sporadically, the walls of the lake sounded with raucous croaking - a frog?  I tidied the area - why do people litter in a place like this?  And I returned to my book.

"... it is the best and the worst that one remembers, seldom the mediocrities that lie between and demand no attention." 

Eventually the boys finished their fishing, and came paddling by.  It was time to pack up and return home.

I took a few minutes to breathe deeply, attempting to imprint upon my memory the yellow of aspen torches reflected in the water.  How I wanted to freeze this moment, to preserve the profound sense of contentment and ease that permeated my being.  Perhaps the best I can hope for is to remember my escape, and to call forth its restorative powers when I need them next.  I choose to be grateful for the hours of solitude that I had, rather than resentful of leaving them behind.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time). 
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As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by. 
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully. 
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 

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  1. I agree, Angie, heart and soul crying under pressure of isolation, of the danger belong to the virus. Nature is one good possibility to compensate. My solution is making art.

    Have a good week. Happy MosaicMonday

  2. What breathtakinf. Your visiting dragonfly is so wonderful. Wishing you a beautiful fall week!

  3. Hi Angie :))) Your post is wonderful, you write so poetically. I can SO relate to what you wrote, how you need to get away and in NATURE. I am a nature child and I would feel bliss to have been hiking your 5 mile trip. Though it would be fun to hike together, I too prefer solitude when I'm out in the woods! :) The dragonfly closeups are wonderful, especially the wings! They are so lovely like that when you isolate them from the rest of the fly. The "buried dinosaur" in the lake is very cool! Oh I haven't been fishing in ages...seeing your hubs and son on the lake brings back lots of memories for me. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post! :)

  4. ...great escape, when I read Finger Lakes I of course thought of New York's lakes! We had a five day escape to the Adirondacks and saw similar sights. Thanks Angie for hosting the party.

  5. What a day lovely spent! Glad you could get away. We all need times like that and more so lately. Steve and I went the back way to Helena this past week and the color was incredible! I could feel myself relaxing as trees and cows passed by. You take care. Kit 😊

  6. Dang, even we fill better since you took us all along with you. It seems like a magical time and place.

  7. Dang, we really do "feel" better, not fill, duh!

  8. I am glad you had such a wonderful day. I am always alone when I go out in nature. Then I can enjoy it. People talk to much when you hike. But, sadly, the nature in my area if far from as beautiful as yours. I wish I had a mountain and more of wildlife like you have. Take care!

  9. A perfect escape from reality ....(and we all need that right now, more than ever). You had the perfect reading material Along!

  10. A perfect day! We all need some alone time and taking a hike in nature is the best way to enjoy that.

  11. A wonderful post and I know that even if I have to escape to really forget the time and to be in the middle of nature. Breathe deeply again. Becoming one with nature I do that often and I agree with you we humans belong to nature and all the animals in the middle of it.
    I really enjoyed your hike in this wonderful place.
    Take care and have a good new week, Elke

  12. A lovely contemplation to be absorbed in nature. Have a good week. Stay safe


  13. Hello Angie,
    What a wonderful day, a beautiful hike. I have never thought to take along a book to read, but then I have hubby my shadow going everywhere with me. Spending time surrounded by nature is so peaceful. Beautiful photos! Thanks for hosting MM. Have a happy day and week ahead.

  14. A delightful post, Angie. I can understand fully your need for solitude as I often feel the same and take to the Parklands. A marvellous quote about being on one's own: "Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone." (Paul Tillich)

  15. What a beautiful spot and sounds like a much needed respite of time. Hugs sent to you and thanksgiving for time to refresh your spirit.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  16. Dragonflies are just as pretty as butterflies in so many ways. Nice inspection of their delicate wings. Nature is my happy place too.

  17. The close up of the dragonfly wing is amazing, the details, so beautiful! Happy Fall :-)

  18. Beautiful post,I was there with you! Soo good to get some alone with nature time. The dragonfly pohotos are beautiful.

  19. Beautifully written and photographed! Have a good week.

  20. Dear Angie - Even a strong, resilient person needs to escape, of course.. Being tuned into nature, you seem to have relaxed and unwound yourself. I agree with your meaning of “bridge”. In other meaning, I prefer “bridge” to “wall”. I so enjoyed this walk with you hearing your lyrical words and seeing pictures of the soothing scenery.


  21. I agree. There's nothing like a walk in the woods to renew the body, mind and spirit. It looks so lovely there. You were lucky to see a Brown Creeper and spend sometime with a dragon fly pal.
    A lovely post, Angie.

  22. You were in a very philosophical mood there Angie. But very often it's good to be alone to just think. That first is a great quote from Gavin Maxwell, a shared thought for many.

  23. Oh what a wonderful time for you in solitude and such lovely photos of nature ~ so glad you had this time. Xox

    Live each moment with love,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  24. A beautiful day with those who matter of you. I love the BOOT!

  25. I didn't have a mosaic to share this week. We've so little out in nature lately. I know what you mean about having time by yourself in nature to restore. There are quad trails that are too steep for me with my fear of heights. Wayne goes ahead and I start walking to take photos. I know what you mean about reading light books. Most of the things I read I don't consider book review quality for sharing. That forces me to find a few books each year to post on the Book Review Club blog. - Margy

  26. It's nice to be absorbed by nature. Beautiful photos especially the dragonfly. That is a stunning series of photos you got of it. The wings did remind me of stained glass. Thanks for the hike and the wonderful narrative. It was nice to see where you hike and find relaxation and peace. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  27. Such beautiful shots! Glad you got your time away.

  28. This post spoke to me. Sure I like hiking with others (only my wife and/or son during this pandemic) but I treasure being in nature by myself going at my own pace pondering the various things I see. I love being alone in nature.

  29. Glad you have your beautiful spaces to escape to and be refreshed.

  30. i think we all need an escape, nature is my favorite place as well! a place where i always feel calm and happy!!

    what a fun experience with the dragonfly!!!


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