The Hush of a Holiday

I do enjoy getting away from the hubbub of the holidays.

Apparently I'm not alone in that sentiment. On Christmas Eve morning, as Finn and I enjoyed a run through the forest, we came upon more than one person who proclaimed they were avoiding "last minute shopping." 

Such a sad cultural statement.

Blinded by the winter sun on Cougar Mountain.
One of the joys of choosing one's family and family traditions is the ability to completely forgo those guilt-induced obligations to shop and spend and feel stressed. My holiday tradition involves spending time on trails with my four-legged family. That's our gift to each other, and it's more than enough.

I admit, it has taken me years to shed the guilt imposed by family and society for not partaking of the more "traditional" holiday festivities. But it's been worth the effort.

As we headed up the trail, Finn and I met a man and his eighteen-month old Goldendoodle, Karma. The dogs greeted each other, as did the humans, but we didn't stop for long. Only because the man called his dog to him (she wanted to play with Finn) did I learn her name. As I continued running I smiled inwardly at the genius of it: "Good Karma!" would be said regularly, which one hopes might actually bring good karma. Seeing the pair again (we were running the same loop in opposite directions), I remarked on the fun of such a name. As Karma zoomed all around us, trying to entice Finn to chase her, the man said, "Yes, there's 'Good Karma' but sometimes there's 'Bad Karma!'" Karma seemed to fall in love with Finn, flirting mightily. Finn was playing hard to get, rolling in the ferns.

The morning was so perfect and enjoyable that Finn and I did a rather long run - about three hours. I think we both would have enjoyed another three hours, but sanity (and lack of nourishment) prevailed. We headed back to the car.

Finn enjoys a drink of wild water at the end of our run.
It was a good morning and a good day.

So good, that early this morning - Christman Day - Finn and I went back out for more. It was foggy at home and during most of the drive toward the mountains. We returned to the same trails as yesterday, hoping we'd be able to start our run above the fog. My wish was granted. Conditions were perfect, with clear skies and temperatures about 30F. When we drove into the parking lot, there was only one car there. I was disappointed; I was hoping to have the entire mountain to ourselves.

Finn and I never did see anyone else, so it felt as if we were alone in the wilderness. We heard birds singing, squirrels chattering, and twice, something bigger moving through the trees (probably deer). There's a wonderful quiet that falls, even on the city, on major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Gone were the clamorous sounds of nearby homebuilding one usually hears at Cougar. No loudly talking groups of runners or hikers, either. Instead, a lovely holiday hush allowing one to hear more of nature. It was peaceful, just what I was seeking, what I needed. Finn was happy, too.

Eventually we came to Coal Creek Falls, a place where I made an offering of the girls' ashes earlier this year. I specifically wanted to talk to them today, since they are my family. Just as when I made the offering, I told them I love them, I miss them, and I thank them for being in my life.

Finn enjoying Coal Creek Falls, Cougar Mountain.
The girls loved cooling their toes in the creek, drinking the wild water. It's one of the few places water can be found year round on Cougar Mountain, so we came here often. The girls are part of the moss-covered old tree stump farthest to the left in the photo.

When Finn and I returned to the parking lot, even Finn seemed surprised to see only my car and the same one that was here when we arrived.

Rare sight: a nearly empty parking lot at a Cougar Mountain trail head.
If only it could be this quiet more often.

Rebecca WallickComment