Spring Healing

One nice day is promised out of the whole week – just one – and the quandary is always whether to work in the garden or get out into the wild. The garden is waking up, the hellebore long blooming, the blueberries in bud, even the daffodils under the cedar that have never opened, did this year. A spring miracle for sure!! But the soil is too cold to plant much beside peas. Still, there’s plenty to be done that’s calling, and much of that is of the back-breaking variety. So the wild woods call, and the garden will survive with an hour here and there during the few dry moments.

Stubborn clouds hover low and we take our time getting out the door, but by 9 we’re on our way to Lacamas Park in Washington. As we cross the Columbia River I begin to doubt those weather forecasters. They are as inconsistent as spring. Thick fog? Really? But it’s early, and there’s still hope. I recall the park’s rushing creek and wild waterfalls from a visit several years before, so perhaps the sky won’t matter.

The mercurial Columbia River Gorge, early morning

Driving east on Highway 14 along the north side of the Columbia is a delight. Views of the Gorge’s cliffs and rolling water peek through the trees, disappearing and reappearing as I watch for the next surprise view.

We turn into the town of Camas (between Vancouver and Washougal), pass the ginormous paper mill, and into the park, where we snag the last parking spot in the small lot – a good sign! The park is over 300 acres, and there’s room for all. That’s also a large buffer between us and the bustle of town, except for the occasional distant sound of a train.

The fog re-forms itself into billowing cloud piles high up, and bits of blue appear through the branches. The warming air is full of birdsong, and suffused with the scent of water from Round Lake.

The lake water spills over the old dam (built to power the paper mill in town) and into Lacamas Creek with a roar. We clamber down the bank, and off trail to get a better view. The force of water shakes the ground. Thoughts and worries evaporate when you’re near a powerful flow like that; it commands your senses, your whole being. The you that was so weighty and stressed just moments ago, flies off into the spray. 

Lake becomes creek – the potholes in the rocks are evidence of the water’s power

We follow the winding maze of forest paths, staying close to the sounds and smells of water as long as we can. Birds flit past almost invisibly. What’s that sound? Is that a branch shaking? The undergrowth rustles. We walk and stop, walk and stop, holding still in hopes a creature will announce itself. Spotted Towhees, Pacific Wrens, Dark-eyed Juncos, robins, and a redtail hawk soars overhead. A lizard pokes his head out into the sun.

The creek roars with spring delight, and we find as many ways as possible to get down to the water. It’s not too muddy, but mossy rocks threaten to take me down. The winter was punishing to many Pacific Northwest forests, and the evidence lies throughout the park; trees broken, shattered, twisted, and scattered like toothpicks. In their new form they change the course of water flow, provide new habitats, and break down into nutrients for the next round of growth. I stand amidst it all and feel my insignificance.

It’s too early for the camas and trillium flowers that will soon be prolific, but the neon green moss glows on the tree bark and rocks, and grey-green lichen drapes over the branches. They love the damp winters, as do the abundant Sword Ferns. At every spot along the path where sunlight finds a hole in the tree canopy, I come to a halt, absorbing the heat, listening to the trills and songs and ripples around me. The birds sound as happy as I am about this sunshine, and I whistle and hum along with them.

There are so many ways to heal from the world of woes.

I know I can step out my back door, listen to birdsong and feel sunlight, look in awe at the newly growing familiar plants. But getting out to the less familiar, and fully immersing in the wild is a grand jump-start, a nudge into wonder, into feeling small and inconsequential. And, there’s no reminders of the work yet to be done. I’ll be back.

Read and see more about the history and area from my 2018 visit to Lacamas Park

15 thoughts on “Spring Healing

  1. The woods—and the adventure—is always the best choice! “The forest is undaunted by its brokenness.” It’s a good reminder, isn’t it, in times of trouble remember nature: there’s always a work around. And she does it immediately. It’s only with humans that we are flummoxed, wanting everything to stay the same, working hard to return it all to “normal” as soon as possible. The river just redirects itself, again and again.

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  2. The theme here seems to be “absorb all there is to absorb”. The spray, the raging river, the birdsong, the fog-then cloud-then sunny sky. All of it, beautiful. I love the photos of reflection because it reminds me that we too are mirrors. I’m glad you’re getting out and really excited to someday see that garden and your resident jays and juncos. There is a Bewick’s wren nesting somewhere in my neighborhood  and I hear it singing in the morning. I’m here! I made it through the night! Isn’t life just so wonderful?!

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    • Thank you Terri! I was driving down a street today with my 2 grandkids, as they were talking about the universe and space, and the 8 year bubbling on about atomic bombs for some reason (8/boys), so I changed the subject. Noticing the tall conifers along the road and in front of us as far as we could see, I said, Look! They’re so beautiful, and so huge! Well, not that huge, he said. Oh yeah, the universe, I remembered. Oh well. Thank goodness this beauty is all around us here (and at least a few forests that are accessible). I can’t tell you what a miracle it continues to be. Thanks for being here Terri.


  3. what an awesome entry. So grateful you take us all along on these N journeys and share places I can only hope to see one day. I loved this: “The you that was so weighty and stressed just moments ago, flies off into the spray.” I actually felt weight lifting off of me AS I WAS READING the post (not the first time with your stuff). thank you baby love you love you xoxo

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  4. Pingback: Camassia | Rivers and Roads PDX

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