I'm in my hideaway again.  It's where I go when I feel like I'm starving to remember how to thrive.  Not just exist.  I go here when my roots feel withered and my sense of belonging and purpose feel shaky.  There is no sweeter air.  There is no deeper green.  The Pacific Northwest is in my veins.  It'll always be.  More on that in a bit.

I lost a friend last week.  He was one of my best friends.  He asked me to play for his funeral when he went.  He is home.  He is at peace.  He is looking at us all now and thriving in paradise, knowing we will see him soon.  My fingers shook as I played Amazing Grace on my violin, in solitude.  No band.  Just silence.  I've been playing the violin for 34 years.  I could barely squeak out a simple hymn that day.  My heart broke.  I needed my hideaway.  

Today I dropped my husband off at the airport again and felt that rude awakening.  I remembered that being swallowed in the emotions of all the hugs and kisses and hellos and goodbyes will continue to be a part of my life for quite a few more years.  I'm a musician.  He's a musician.  But he's an angel.  His tone is so disarming and sweet.  His voice is like a song.  He is kind and patient.  There is not a single soul like him on this earth.  And I'm an A-hole.  I'm impatient and unkind and often imbalanced.  I struggle to grow and become more like him.  I won't see him for a whole 3 days.  And yet, I cried like I'd lost him forever.  I needed my hideaway.  

I drove home with a tear stained red face.  I'm quite the ugly cryer.  I told myself to take the scenic route through the trees.  I smelled the sweet and cool forest air and it just pushed me along a little further down the road and into the driveway of my wilderness-junkie backpacking nature guru friend.  I always try to call her before I just burst in the door with all my problems, but when she doesn't answer, I just do it anyway.  And she's always waiting there anyway.  Fresh graincakes with blueberries from her own patch of earth.  Fresh coffee and a listening ear that always connects to my heart.  When the sun shines in the Pacific Northwest, its like the gods say, "okay, you can have your damn day in the sun.  You have everything else though, so don't get too used to it".  

I borrowed hiking clothes, shoes and trekking poles and we took off for the mountain.  "Did you know Cait...there's this 'fancy new health kick' they're doing in Japan now.  Forest Baths.  They are prescribing it to couples for marital problems, health problems of every kind!  And its basically just, walking in the woods.  Being in the presence of trees".  Seriously?  Hilarious.  This is our medicine.  Ah, the tonic of the wilderness.  There I was, just following my instinct.  I looked up at the sky-high evergreens and took my first deep breath in months.  Man cannot come close to constructing this thriving ecosystem.  It pumps out the most beautiful fresh air you can find.  And pure silence.  Stop and close your eyes and hear absolutely nothing.  Nothing but an occasional soft breeze.  Every pore opens up and takes it in.  My mind centers.  I get new ideas to help my friends and family.  New baking ideas with the apple tree in the yard that nobody uses.  I'm thriving again.  I need and want nothing.  I have everything.  I sweat and laugh and breathe hard and look with gratitude on each green thing that feeds the other thing.  The ground is soft and inviting.  The tree roots are like little ladders to help me up the next boulder.  Then we find a clear and glassy lake.  Ah, what the hell, we strip down and dive in.  I was freezing.  I felt so elated and alive.  We made it back to the homestead and dined on the homegrown gourmet and ice cream with hot coffee poured over the top. It's her new thing.  I love it.  Then the glorious old in-ground hot tub.  Back before they had temperature limits for safety.  Hot saline water soaking into my cells while I rest my head and look up at the treetops.  Silence.   I come back changed every time.  

So here I am in my funny iris-print cotton bathrobe, writing down all the ideas that came to me today.  Life flies by so fast.  The truth is, we all have our time.  Most of us don't know when it will be.  I said goodbye to my husband and kissed him like it was our last.  I swear sometimes he wonders what in the world has gotten into me.  That's always the look he gives, but the words.... he keeps to himself.  I'm thankful for my hideaway.  I'm thankful for "Forest Baths".  I'm headed out to Barcelona in a few short days.  I won't be back for quite a while.  I'll be on my own.  But more on that later.