Under the Stars

I don’t remember how long it has been since I sat and looked at the Milky Way. At Wilbur and Tassajara, in the middle of the summer, generally speaking I do not stay up late enough for it to get really dark. Sometimes if I woke up in the middle of the night, or before it got light, I would go outside to be dazzled, but only briefly.

On Friday I arrived at Wilbur towards the end of daylight. The sun had been cutting into a few open spots on the Cache Canyon, setting the yellow trees ablaze. Once it had dropped behind the hills, you could feel the temperature dropping rapidly towards freezing. A far cry from the 112 degrees the last time I was there; in the morning, a hard frost was visible on the plants and the roofs.
The little tub by the fountain is a great place to sit at any time, with the valley stretching away in front of you. To watch the light drain from the sky on Friday after arriving, and have myriad stars come alive, including a few shooting stars – that beautiful space debris – was deeply peaceful, in a way that I last felt during my days in Sagres. I was glad to feel connected to that sense of spacious ease again, as it had felt in short supply in the city since my return. There was no hurry to be anywhere else, and so I gazed upwards for a couple of hours.

As often happens, I slept deeply, with manifold dreams, as if my mind was unraveling many stories I have been holding. During the meditation sessions I talked of boundlessness and the ‘body exposed to the golden wind’. I hiked in the morning sun under blue skies, and ran up to the ridge again as Sunday clouded over ahead of a rainy night, deeply quiet apart from a few small birds. On the way down I gathered a few chestnuts, and as my legs tired on the valley trail, I looked forward to one last soak.

Steam rising from the water as the morning temperatures hovered at freezing.

The creek in the early sun

Rain had turned some of the grasses green.

Autumnal colours on the valley sides.

Heading out on Bear Valley Road on a damp Monday morning.

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