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The trip up to Huntington Lake took most of the day Sunday, but it was lovely nevertheless, especially the last bit of the journey that took me up into the Sierra Nevadas. It's been 18 years since I was last here. My mom and I went up here together every summer when I was a child. (I think the time served as a release valve for my parent's marriage, because we stopped going after my parent's divorce. But also Mom sold our share of the cabin we co-owned after fights with the co-owners.) Most of the old landmarks I remember from coming up here when I was young are unchanged. The wooden signs are still the same, even though they must have been repainted and maybe even replaced due to snow damage. Huntington Lake road still has the same three stores, in the same three locations. It has the same docks. Most of all, the smell is the same. I smelled it a bit coming through my car's A/C, then much more thickly when I got out to go into a store in Shaver Lake, Huntington's much bigger, more tourist-y older brother.

The smell in Huntington Lake is a rich combination of living pine trees, their composting remains, water and mountain air. It permeates everything, even the insides of this cabin where I am writing this while processing the end of another book. The smell is wonderful--maybe this specific smell wouldn't be as wonderful to other people as it is to me because of the specific force of my nostalgia.

When I was thinking about coming up here, I figured I only needed two or three days up here, but now that I'm here, I'm sad I'll only be here for four full days. All the same, I'm grateful I have this time. And time seems to move slower here. Something about the sunlight and slight swaying motion of the trees.

I remember why I used to read so much when I was here as a young person. You take a hat, some sunscreen and bug spray, maybe a towel, and go walking, then pause at boulders or beaches to sit down and read. You read under the covers when it's cold in the morning and before going to bed at night. At twilight, you sit on the porch, smell that wonderful Sierra Nevada smell on the breeze, and read. When I was young, the Big Creek Library only allowed 10 books to be checked out at a time, so Mom would drive me down there twice a week to refresh my supply. At some point Mom decreed I was spending too much time reading and was only allowed to read before breakfast, after dinner, and an hour during the day. I clandestinely snuck books with me when I went out on walks in order to make more reading time.

This time around, I knew I wasn't going to be going to the Big Creek library because the road there is a winding mountain road with a cliff on one side, and requires extensive backing up skills when you encounter lumber trucks going in the other direction, which happens frequently. My driving skills are not up to the challenge. But I also had a lot of specific books I want to read and have available for the writing I've been doing, so I brought a lot of books on autoimmune disease, disability and Buddhism I ordered from the Larkspur Public Library, as well as books I need to read as pre-work for the class I'm taking and a little fiction. And I don't feel so silly now that I came up here with 3 bags of books because yesterday I dipped into four or five books.





As far as my writing project goes, I'd been trying to understand Buddhist ideas of the self, specifically what sort of being we are left as if we abandon our self and/or ego. I got an answer yesterday while reading Charlotte Joko Beck's book Everyday Zen. Beck describes the effects of meditation practice, of sitting, labeling the thoughts that flit through our heads and letting them go: "More and more, I can be who I truly am: a no-self, an open and spacious response to life. My true self.." (I actually misread it as capacious, which I like better than spacious, because of the implication that it can hold a lot of things.) I like that idea, that thought, but I'm also trying to make sense of it and how it works for people with autoimmune disease and other hidden disabilities who might read what I am writing who live with a lot of limitations. Trying to have as open and spacious a response to life as possible even with limitations, I suppose.

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October 2013

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