Water has such healing properties any time of year, but in particular in the Autumn season as storms roar into the Pacific Northwest, blowing leaves off the trees and dumping snow in the local mountains in ways that empower Winter sport enthusiasts. Where Spring’s element is fire and Summer the earth, the key element of Fall is water and appropriately so — November feels like the wettest month of the year.
Yesterday I made a day of Silver Falls State Park, near Silverton, Oregon. I woke up in Portland to blue skies and quickly threw on several layers and jumped in my car to meander along country roads that hug Christmas tree farm after farm around Molalla, Oregon. I’ve experienced the iconic Oregon park many times growing up in the Beaver State, but it’s been awhile. The ten waterfalls in this magic region are timeless and lend themselves well to exploring any time of year. I particularly enjoy the Winter season, because the naked maple trees are able to showcase the neon green moss that drapes around each branch in ornate ways — much like tinsel on a yuletide tree.
Although the day was crisp and clear, moisture still hung on every branch. Droplets of condensation were my hiking buddies while traversing the many well-worn switchbacks leading through the park. One water feature after the other revealed the life-giving magic of nature and the abundance of the element of water in Oregon. It seems to either fall from the sky, drip down a gentle forest bank or power chug off an abrupt cliff into a foamy pool hundreds of feet below. The dramatic waterfalls remind me that, without a doubt, nature’s power should always be respected — South Falls’ 177 feet between the spout on top to the churning drum of the creek below is living proof!
This has been quite a challenging year for humans as a pandemic races through the country, upending our culture. Every household is impacted in ways that are both obvious and subtle — with some impacts yet to be fully revealed.
In a murky cloud of physical, spiritual and emotional challenge for humans, nature remains chugging along, powering water off volcanic lava plains that make up Silver Falls with wild abandon — the same way for thousands of years. Nature is our compass, letting us know that despite our human interpretation of trauma, the organic world is still functioning, on schedule, showing us the way.
As I stepped through puddles of wet run-off dripping off rocks high above, thoughts flowed in and out of my head about what I want to wash away from my 2020. Some things can trickle away, like the beads of droplets falling from ferns embedded into water-soaked moss clinging to walls of rock. Other aspects of 2020 I would allow to propel off the 145 foot dangling gush of water at North Falls — blowing away with the mist rising up in the canyon. Regardless, the thought of this abundance of water in every direction washing away the remnants of the year — in such a cleansing way in the proximity of oxygen, moss, evergreen needles and proud sword ferns — gave me comfort on my miles-long hike.
What would you like to wash away from your 2020? What type of water do you need to help you?
No matter the answer, may this wettest time of year inspire your own form of cleansing in preparation for the new year to come.