Relax Completely

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The rare Methow River fairy captured at long last on film.
Let go of thousands of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
~ Shitou Xiqian (8th Century Chinese Zen Master)

 

Out for a bike ride, I headed up Wold Creek road past where it turns to dirt, on over a rattly cattle guard and turned around at the second cattle guard. From there I left the road behind for mountain bike trails, both single track and old roads. I had climbed some hills, sweat forming on my brow even in the chill of late evening air, and now had the joy of descending, winding my way down to the river. After going through a couple of cattle gates, I found myself on the banks of this magnificent river who had turned a pewter silver in the quickly setting sunlight. The color of liquid mercury, coming from the river reflecting the clouds, reflecting the already set sun. There were holes in the cloud layer through which I could see the tops of clouds glowing pink and peach in the westerly light. It was breath taking and like an idiot I stood there in amazement trying to capture  and hold on to what I was seeing.

Later, as I pedaled up the driveway past marmot rock, whose namesakes were surely underground sleeping or doing whatever marmots do in their burrows (having a bit of tea, perhaps), I was suddenly struck with a realization that caused me to relax completely and smile. “You can’t hold on to anything,” the universe seemed to be shouting at me. Not the sunset, not the river, not my daughters, not my wife, not my health and certainly not my life. Definitely not my hair, which is already leaving me, and not my cares. I can’t hold on with these ridiculous words nor photographs nor memories; not with who I think I am, who I tell myself I was nor who I want to become. There is nothing to hold on to and no one to do the holding anyway.

With that flood of understanding, I took off my biking shoes and felt a deep relaxation that I had not felt for days. I let go of everything, for a moment, and rested free in this world.

Three for the Methow

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Photo by Jimmy Zammar
Methow River flowing green
Reflecting trees above, sky below
Flowing on, out of snow-mountains
Past forest and field, farmhouse and cabin
On past Goat Wall and an old Western town
Onward it winds, narrowing
Into canyons, whit water rushing
Hurrying to a dammed world below.

The river flows and flows
	without end.
Birds flit and flutter along the banks
	chittering to no end.
Mountains stand, still
	from beginning to end.
Cars whiz by on the highway
	hurrying to no end.
With no beginning and no end,
	why hurry at all?

Two young girls play along
	the bank of a river flowing.
Sticks for kids, trees a home
	an oriole flits and flutters high above.
The warm sun comforts my back
	while a cool breeze floats down river.
Tall cottonwoods stand with their toes in the water
	Balls of soft seeds float on the wind.
"Look its snowing," she says excitedly
	chasing dreams of imagination.

Written by David LaFever

The Driver

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I’ll tell you about the driver, who lives inside my head. Starts me and stops me and puts me into bed. Opens up my mouth when he wants me to talk and fires up my legs when he wants me to walk.
~Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall

 

My experience has been that its impossible to know when something begins and ends, which leads me to believe that there are no endings and beginnings, although we tell ourselves it is so. It also seems true that it is not possible to say who is the driver, who is the driven and who is the driven-upon. This was my experience driving our tiny home school bus, which we have name the Cozy Turtle, from northern California to our new home in the North Cascades. Sure I turned the key to fire her up and I pushed hard on the accelerator, but once she got going she had a mind of her own and went where she wanted to. I coaxed her this way and that way to avoid old-growth trees, precipitous Pacific cliffs, guardrails and other automobiles but really I was encouraging rather than driving her.

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Because of her size, mass and numerous blind spots (we all have numerous blind spots, don’t we?), she encouraged me to really pay attention. The radio didn’t work and the noise of the engine prevented hearing much of anything else anyway, so I really paid attention. There was a meditative quality to driving – the seat forced me to sit straight (no slouching) and my eyes were constantly scanning mirrors, looking up ahead and to the sides. There wasn’t anything else to do nor was it safe to be distracted. I felt driven to be a better driver by the Cozy Turtle.

And really where were we going. Yes we were heading north to the Methow Valley but we didn’t know how far we would get any given day, which started late and ended early. We had enough time so that we did not have to hurry, which took a lot of stress out of the experience. The Cozy Turtle, or “Old Bessie” as I called her while on the road, went slow which is really the only way to travel. Going slow and paying attention is the only way to ride.

So we went slowly, paying attention and without an agenda, on an unknown journey to a place we had been dreaming about for a long time.

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Into The Wild West

 

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Photo by Jimmy Zammar.

In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and rifle.

~Teddy Roosevelt

We arrived a week ago in the old western town of Winthrop, Washington in that valley that will be our new home. If you want to say it correctly, its “Warshington.” We are excited to be here but it still feels a bit like we are visiting, rather than living here. Our first weekend, we had friends visit which was a great distraction from all the work that we still need to do on the bus. Plus we could not get into a storage unit for a few days and therefore the bus was full of our belongings (yes, simplicity is a main reason for living in the bus, but we are not about to get rid of all of our camping, backpacking, fishing etc gear) and we needed to clear it out before we could start living in it.

With our friends, we cooked and talked and laughed and hiked up Lookout Mountain. The wildflowers both down here in the valley and up in the mountains are amazing.

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Photo by Jimmy Zammar.

We took in the views of distant snow-capped mountains, drank in the beauty of wildflowers and ultimately our path was blocked by snow so we did not make it all the way to the top.

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Photo by Jimmy Zammar.

A wonderful weekend spent with close friends was the perfect way to begin our new life here in the Methow Valley.


written by David LaFever

Cease to Speak, Perfectly Understood

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Free your mind and your ass will follow.

~George Clinton

The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood. 

~Rebecca Solnit

 

All great journeys begin in exhaustion. Birth. Death. This. I am exhausted – in part because I did not sleep well last night on a thin air mattress and in part because we have been working so hard of late to make this journey possible.

We tend to think that journeys take us some place else but in fact they take us right back where we started from. Right here, right now. Home.

It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But for us humans, that step is usually preceded by a thought. And that thought with an intention. Actually before and after, like the feet in walking, is impossible to know. For us, I cannot say where this all begin but I do know that it begin with an intention and a vow – to live simpler, more deliberate. To root ourselves in place, community, love and beauty. Love and beauty, perhaps, beyond all else. To find ourselves perfectly and beautifully at home with who we are, where we are and what we are. Rebecca Solnit said that, “The desire to go home (is) a desire to be whole” and to be a “point of intersection.”

I have felt that here on the north coast of California. Our home and our life has been a gathering place, a confluence of children and friends and chickens. It is damn hard to say goodbye to this place, which has seeped into our bones like winter rain, summer fog, incoming tides, and especially the people who have been so kind to us. I only hope I have been able to reciprocate the gifts of friendship, love and laughter that have been given freely to us.

We journey to the north, knowing that “the journey itself is home,” as Basho wrote, to the North Cascades where rivers meet. We hope that our life will continue to be a place where people come together, a confluence, where we may awaken from our sleep or rest from our awakening. May we continue to blaze with light and be sheltered in the darkness!

To our Humboldt friends – a deep bow and a warm hug! Thank you for nourishing our life here, you mean the world to us!


written by David LaFever

 

 

 

Trundling along

The girls have beds!  This is my last BIG construction project inside the bus.  The drawers were, of course, the trickiest part of this, but they are in, they all slide (some easier than others…), and there is LOTS of space for all the girl’s clothes, and hopefully some space for Dave’s and my clothes as well….

I should probably clarify here – This is not a bunk bed!  I am not expecting my daughter to sleep in a one-foot crawlspace!  The lower bed pulls out (trundle bed-style) and will be next to the taller bed.  My 6-year-old’s friend asked me this question and I thought others might wonder as well.  🙂

One of my favorite things about finishing the beds was the reaction by the girls – it was instantly a super fun thing to play on, under, around, and gave me a little glimpse of how playing in the bus is going to feel.

This week I took the bus to the mechanic to have everything looked at – and I’m guessing there is a fair amount to look at, based on the 11 mile drive from Arcata to Eureka.  Namely, the lack of power.  I literally drove down Highway 101 South at 26 miles per hour for quite a few miles before the bus picked up speed – to a whopping 40 miles per hour.  Hoping that we can get the old girl to go a tad faster on our northward journey!!


Written by Kristin LaFever

The light at the end of tunnel…

We are getting closer and closer to finishing the bus!  The kitchen is close to completion, missing a few essentials, like plumbing and a propane connection!  Coming soon…

 

The other project I’ve been working on is the girls’ beds – we thought about bunk beds for awhile, but decided it would make their room feel even smaller than it is, and block too much light.  So, instead of that we are going with a trundle bed, but with built-in drawers beneath each bed.  Here are a few pictures of the frames with one of the drawers.  Still have one last drawer to make and install, and drawer fronts to put on, but this is where we are now.

 

The bus progress is coming along, and after a couple years of this project going on, we have a real deadline – we put our house on the market to sell, and it’s currently in escrow.  Unless something comes up to change the deal, we’ll be moving out of our house by May 15th!  IMG_2462