Friday, October 26, 2007

Nights in the Northwest

Last night the house was quiet. No TV, no computer, no voices. Everyone else was asleep and I was up babysitting the huge pot of potato soup I had been brewing all evening. It wasn't late, maybe 9 PM, but the moon was out in its bright, silvery blueness I had not encountered before moving to the Northwest. With the lights out, I carried my steaming bowl into the living room, guided by the light of that moon, when I was swept up by the calming emotion I get when I feel like I am in the right place at the right time.

Or maybe I just relaxed. I don't know.

Warm bowl in hand, I leaned against the chilled window, peering up through the evergreens at the huge silver disc in the sky. It's that classic Northwest wilderness iconic image that is so quintessential to the mystique of this corner of the world. And it was my comfort tonight, as on so many nights here before.

When we moved here we ended up in a very congested part of Federal Way. There was little of the expansive wilderness one expects to breathe in upon arriving in the Northwest. The neighborhood was beautiful, to be sure, but it was that crafted, after-the-fall rebuild, using native plants and landscaping. I would stand in G's room after everyone slept and peer far into the East on nights like this. In the distance, the Cascades would silently guard the horizon; I could see the conifers everywhere, and the moon glimmering over everything. It gave me comfort then too, that we were at least on the right track. Wrong place, perhaps, but in the correct world.

Here in the wooded harbor, the home we chose is unprotected against how overpowering that world can be. We don't have streetlights, but I am awakened several times a month by the glare of that moon. We have skylights and large windows. Even though they are curtained, one can't shut it out, the nature of the Northwest. The owls sing to me, the coyotes bay in the distance and the moon lights it all. The power of this region, guarded by the massive sentinels of the Olympics and the Cascades, and nourished by the huge flows of water that comprise the Sound, is palpable even in this day and age. Living here, on the fringes of the urban world, makes me question whether I could even tolerate the raw energy of the true wilderness. People do live there, and they commute for HOURS just to bask in that beauty whenever they aren't required to satisfy the demands of modern life. Were I to try that, I know I could be lost to it.

Maybe later. Right now I have children to raise, a book to finish and a life to finance. The moon can keep me company in the meantime.

(click the link for a silver Northwest moon)

1 comment: