What I’d planned on doing this weekend was a number of items on The List, including writing my three blogs. Instead, I ended up traipsing the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in search of the perfect tree.
We usually cut in Lassen. This was the first year we decided to check out Shasta. Just days before a big storm had dumped snow all over the Valley floor, including our yard located in the banana belt of surrounding mountains. The mountains were covered in deep powder.
We figured we’d find an easy side road off the main road past Lake Siskiyou and could take it a few hundred feet up to find the perfect silver tip. The roads were icy and covered with new and old snow. Side roads were few and far between and cutting rules (you can’t cut under 100 feet from the main road) were obstacles because the sides of the road were steep on both sides. This lead us deeper and deeper into the woods.
After driving about 10 miles on the snow road, we spotted a side road heading off the main. We hung a right and headed up the mountain. We looked from side to side, but all the trees looked either too big or too small or the “wrong” type. A few other people passed by and we stopped to chat. Then we stopped seeing anybody and that was a good thing because the road became clearly only wide enough for one car. The snow beneath the tires made us slide a bit more than I like, especially when looking down the huge jagged cliff below which made even my testosterony teen boys angsty. After awhile, heading high up on a one lane road with only faith that there was going to be a turnout up ahead made me want to get out and walk.
As I walked through the forest, still and white, the only sound I could hear was the creek bubbling in places it hadn’t frozen over. It rolled around the ice caps and continued its way under logs from fallen trees and through snow covered boulders. Pure bliss.
I thought about how the stream and I were on the same page. The stream had a plan to flow and there were some blocks in its way brought on temporarily by the season. I had a plan to follow, as did my husband who also had some work to do, and wandering the woods in search of what felt like a non-existent Christmas tree all day, was not the way we’d seen it unfolding. The added steps of the season, those steps that we take to make it special for our kids, slow our already busy flow.
We’re not alone. The race consciousness of December can be seen in the words and attitudes of those all around us. (“Are you ready for Christmas?”) It has the power to make us more generous, more caring, more cranky, more happy, more lonely, warmer, more exhausted, more loving, more joyful, more sad. It is crucial to stay balanced, practice self-care, and protect our bodies with healthy food choices and exercise more than ever, so that we can consciously choose our state of mind. When we stay in our strong spots, we can rise above that mood bombardment, and claim the one we want.
As I walked through that magical forest, snow crystals tumbling from the tree boughs, I watched my kids sledding down the hill and my husband tieing the largest tree ever to the top of his SUV. I breathed in the sweet smell of pine. The stream gurgled below. This moment couldn’t be more perfect. It was clearly the place I was meant to be.