Monday, September 10, 2007


Yesterday was beautiful. The sun shone brightly and the air temperature was perfectly pleasant--not at all hot, but not yet too cool, either. As Mom C.'s sprained foot is doing much better and she can walk on it for short distances without too much trouble, we decided to go for a walk in the late afternoon. We drove to the Kootenai Creek trailhead to walk the path along the creek.

We meandered up and down the gently sloping trail, stopping often to admire the canyon walls around us, rugged and imposing, layers of granite and shale jutting out in every direction, streaked with brightly colored mineral deposits and various lichens. Then we would look down at the stream far below. The water level was low, but what remained rushed down from the mountainside, cascading around and over the huge boulders in the stream bed. Here and there, the cold water collected in deep pools so clear that they looked to me like display cases protecting their precious treasures: rocks of every color, rounded and smooth, expertly arranged beneath the glass for the pleasure of the viewing public.

We walked until the path came down to meet the level of the stream and began to look for a good place to sit by the water's edge where we could watch the kids play, scrambling over rocks like mountain goats and invariably falling in "accidentally." The spot that we chose was already occupied, much to our surprise, by my friend Nancy, another friend of hers, and their two girls. What a treat! After a few minutes of greetings, Nancy and her friend hopscotched back across smaller rocks to their huge sunny boulder in the middle of the stream to continue their conversation. Mom and Dad C. sat down on another large boulder on the shore and I chose a smaller one, just across from them a little way out into the water. Andy joined the kids in exploring and throwing rocks. Mom removed her socks and shoes and iced her bad foot in a frigid pool.

We talked some, but I was distracted by the scenery. With the sun at my back, warming my bare shoulders (I was still in my thin, summery dress from church that morning), I couldn't keep my eyes off the sky, high above the narrow canyon. The sky was that blue that defies description. You know which one I am referring to.

The blue that goes on forever.

The blue that somehow causes me to actually breathe more deeply.

The blue that soothes and satisfies my soul as I drink it in with thirsty eyes.

That one. It washed over me like a healing balm. I couldn't get enough of it.

After I wrote of this blue sky, I vaguely remembered writing something similar about a particular blue sky last fall. I did a quick search and found this, from November 2006, "Deep blue sky seems to go up and up forever, tempting me to let go of my stubborn insistence on gravity and fly, or rather swim in its endless depths." I think I have a thing for blue sky.

As if the scenery were not enough, there was also the sound filling my ears. The stream's music, crashing hard and fast over large boulders, racing lightly over shallow rock gardens, tinkling gently through clusters of yellow aspen leaves trapped in crevices, and resting in the quiet deep pools was wonderfully distracting. I listened. The music filled me completely. All worries and sorrows were drowned out by its bold and unrelenting song of peace and life.

Then there was the fragrance of the pine trees, the dry, dusty trail and the clean, fresh water...

I could go on and on. My senses have been deprived during the time I've hidden indoors, trying to escape the heavy brown layer of smoke. Yesterday I tried to make up for it all at once.

It amazes me that something as simple as the color of the sky or the sound of water on rock never fails to supersede and utterly invalidate the complex cares of humanity. It reminds me once again that there is so much more to reality than what I know.

And I love the fact that, although the scene set before us yesterday rivaled any that you would find in some remote setting in one of our country's national parks, it is, in reality, only two miles from a twenty-four hour grocery store.


Cindee said...

Your post reminded me of an 80's song by Whiteheart called "Montana Sky". I searched the internet for the lyrics and actually found a video someone made with it on YouTube. If you want to take a look at it here's the link: MONTANA SKY

Enjoy. And thanks for making me feel 18 again :-)

CML_Shearings said...

Esther & I experienced the exact same thing on Saturday when we hiked up the Kootenai Canyon trail!! I love the sky, but I find myself drinking in the mountains every chance I can get on these clear days. I'm so glad you are using your senses to fully enjoy September too!

Sherry C said...

Wow, Cary. I guess Kootenai was calling all of us this past weekend. It was so beautiful that it would have been a crime to NOT get out and enjoy it. Is Kootenai Canyon the same trail as Kootenai Creek? I know with Blodgett that they are two separate trails.

CML_Shearings said...

Yes, it's the same trail. A trail that is more washed out at points since this spring, but a beautiful one none-the-less. We watched several young men rock climbing the face of those cliffs at the beginning of the canyon. That was a first for us. That's probably why my focus was on the canyon rather than the creek.