Monday, December 22, 2014

A wing for a heart

No one's in a hurry at Orr Springs. No one.

It's wild and remote. There's hot mineral water and blessed silence. Breathe in and feel the cold air, tonic in the lungs, scrubbed by trees. The water has a slippery feel and unlike the water at Mercey, is good to drink. The guy in the Healdsburg bike shop claimed that drinking it once healed his knee, after a bad fall onto a rock.

Last night, with a lot to take care of, it almost felt like hurrying. Dinner to make, tea to drink, food to label. A quick soak and sauna, both Way Hot. Then a 90-minute massage by Paula, who describes her style as "mostly by feel". It's like she's whispering the  muscles. More heat therapy, then bed.

It's the Winter Solstice. No massage since July. No real yoga for a year. Layers of stress and computer work and stress and cycling. Underneath, the old whiplash injury and cranky QL. Oh, I could feel it last night climbing that hill. The poor body is stiff and sore. It has absorbed everything.

It would like to spend a week here.

In lieu of that, after breakfast I hang around waiting for the sauna to open. The grounds are rustic, as you might expect, yet organized and intentional. I drink some of the water, willing my stomach to right itself.

Outside the main building, a tall wire figure stands with one animal bone lashed to its frame, a dark windowbox for a gut, a wing for a heart. Mind the basics, it says. Keep to essential things. Not every detail qualifies as important; in fact most nouns do not.

Overnight, the sauna has cooled off. Nevertheless, a couple of bonus sessions, leaning against the wood, is what the stubborn kink in my neck has been asking for. After camping out there for the past month, it actually decides to let go.

It's my cue to pack up and hit the road too, after only a few hours here. Big day ahead, can't linger.

On a one-lane, potholed, barely-paved route that takes attention and care to stay upright, it's impossible to go fast. There's not much momentum to lose by pulling off, just for a minute, into Montgomery Woods State Reserve.

I walk along the creek for 10 minutes, gazing at old growth redwoods. The creek is running fast and high, feeding them. Their roots are dug in; they have been in the same place for a long time. Most of what they do to survive - the water intake, their circulation systems, their breathing - is totally silent and mysterious, masked by the soft, matted layers of bark.

Just as it was difficult last night to lie on the massage table for 90 minutes, it's tough now to walk slowly and look up and not make forward progress.

This is important work.

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