There is a place in the Sierra Nevada mountains where I go when I need to breathe.
Sometimes I can only go there in my mind.
It is a simple cabin. It has a kitchen, a bedroom, an indoor bathroom, running water and electricity. It is Tres Pinos.
It has a peaceful, quiet deck that overlooks a canyon where the South Fork of the Middle Fork of the Tule River runs.
Going to sleep on that deck, under a sky full of light and dark, the wind gently moving the pine trees as they guard the earth, is wondrous. The voice of the river would soothe.
As a child sleeping outside on the deck would scare me. It is only now that I realize that the source of that fear was the enormity of that sky, all those stars, all the unknown out there. But the river would put me to sleep.
In Spring, when the winter snows give it sustenance, you can hear the river roar. In the fall the river becomes a rivulet. It’s voice is diminished. It’s life barely sustained.
We would go to the river often. To smell the fresh, clean air of the river. To feel the icy water sting our feet. Occasionally, especially on hot summer days, we would swim. At the “swimmin’ hole”.
Humans created the “swimmin’ hole” with river rocks. The dam held back the low summer river at the bottom of a cascade. Sliding down the cascade into the cold, murky water was an act of courage. Jumping off the small cliff into the water was just nuts.
As the summer turns to fall, the river completes its annual cycle. It no longer receives water from rain or snow. It becomes a rivulet again.
Winter would bring snow high above our cabin. Spring would bring rain. And the river would roar its voice once again.