Season’s greetings from the forest!
I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season no matter what you believe in or celebrate or not believe in (and yes, I still consider this time before New Year’s but after Christmas, the holiday season).
Whether you’re surrounded by family or embracing solitude, whether you’re out of town or enjoying plenty of parking where you live because everyone else is out of town (holidays = actual parking in SF).
Whether you’re off work or working hard.
Whether you’re participating in years long traditions or creating new ones.
For me, it’s a mix of a little of everything.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, never have really, but I had the most splendid Christmas day in the forest. It was a day off work in the midst of my workweek. And I didn’t have to travel far to enjoy a self-care day. I was alone, but not feeling lonely for the first time in several weeks.
Typically, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be a bit rough for me, it’s really my least favorite time of year, and this year was no exception due to several reasons which I won’t get into now. All that matters is that come Solstice (a week ago Sunday), at the pinnacle of literal darkness, I wanted so badly to welcome the light back.
Honor the darkness and welcome the light, so I read somewhere on the very eve of Solstice and this has been my theme ever since.
Back to Christmas day itself, I started off with a big home-made brunch: scrambled eggs, toast with pepperjack cheese, and bread with hagelslaag (a Dutch treat of chocolate sprinkles! yes, I put chocolate sprinkles on my bread and love it! Don’t judge.). And of course, my morning chai.
Then it’s off to Marin… blasting the iPod with my favorites from Michael Franti, Brandi Carlile, and Ani DiFranco, I make my way from urban to suburban to forest and arrive to a pretty full trailhead parking situation. Luckily I snag a spot that doesn’t scare me with images of my car stuck in a massive mud puddle.
I’m not the only one with the brilliant idea to head into the woods on Christmas.
My destination: Cataract Falls trail. This trail heads steadily up following the creek and its series of spectacular waterfalls. The area is even more lush after our recent storms.
My upward progress is slow (I had just been on a 2 week exercise hiatus following my eye surgery as a precaution, per doctor’s orders). But I don’t beat myself up for not being in better shape today. I’m gentle with myself and I stop plenty of times to take pictures and let other folks by. Working my quads up those steps and just moving my body in general felt oh so good.
I disappear into the moment as I focus on the trail ahead and my picture taking. I may or may not have spent 20 minutes just trying to perfectly capture some mushrooms on a log.
Many “hello’s” and “happy holidays” are exchanged all the way to the top as everyone seems to be in bright spirits. I see couples and big families and old hippies alike soaking up their experience and embracing the incoming sunlight through the forest canopy.
On my way up, I stop by my favorite spot off trail and find myself blissfully alone while the rest of the trail is somewhat crowded. All I hear is rushing water and the crunch of my sesame sticks as I devour my favorite trail snack.
For a few minutes, I close my eyes and just “let it be”, taking the advice of my friend Sarah from one of her recent posts.
I am still. I am in the moment. I am welcoming the light.
As I hike back down the canyon, I vow to move my body AND be still more often. It is so good for me. For anyone really. Yes, you too.
After a tasty Indian dinner, I head to the indy Smith theater in San Rafael for the final treat of my day: watching a documentary on spending a year in Antarctica.
Oh my gosh. Go see this film. It is so good. Here’s the trailer:
It is a fantastic documentary. It seems like documentaries are either very nature-oriented or very people-oriented. This was perfectly balanced between both and I was thoroughly entertained and awed.
Plus, penguins! OMG, they are so cute!
But even adorable penguins can not convince me to head to Antarctica! Just too damn cold for me. I even shivered a few times as I simply watched this film!
While I spent Christmas day happily alone, I am so stoked to spend New Year’s Eve and Day with my sister this week. We have a mini-retreat to the mountains planned, combining NYE with my birthday week celebration, at Sierra hot springs and then Lake Tahoe. Winter wonderland, here we come!
Season’s greetings to you all and happy new year! All my best for a happy and healthy welcome to 2015!