Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Portland, December 2007 II

And the adventures continue....

The day after Christmas. Anticlimactic. Energy levels crashing. Post Holiday Stress Syndrome. All that sugar and build up anxiety and excitement melting away and leaving us all low, a little blue and definitely exhausted. Whew. What a ride, huh? Can’t wait till next year?

Leigh and I aren’t really that tired from the festivities (because we didn’t really buy into the whole consumerist nature of this man-made holiday – Christ is a Pisces people!), we are physically exhausted from the fun and adventurous snow shoeing we did yesterday. Five miles around a frozen lake during a white out snow storm at about 4,000 feet I think would drain just about anyone. It was gorgeous! It was so much fun! It was such a nice alternative to sitting around all day eating and drinking. Getting exercise and fresh air while enjoying what might be my first true White Christmas!

It must have snowed at least 2 inches in just the 4 hours we were out walking. And most of that probably came in just a couple hours. I loved ever second of it. And surprisingly (at least to me) so did Leigh. Seeing the glow in her eyes whenever we’d stop and look around at the winter forest wonderland was so inspiring and exciting. I’ve really wanted to find something outdoors we could do in the winter together here. She’s not skier or snowboarder and it’s too rainy in Portland to really get on the bicycle and take off for explorations. And hiking in the soggy woods is fun…for a second. Yes, green, lush, vibrant, and totally unique when it’s raining and everything is wet and mossy and spongy. Something very satisfying and healthy about that…but I wanted to find something we could both enjoy and not get so wet!

Considering she is already talking about trying cross-country skiing, I might have stumbled on it.

We got up not too early and not too late to a rare clear sky and view of the waning full moon. What a treat to get a Solstice (the real reason for Christmas) and a full moon within a couple nights of each other! Having packed up the night before we just made our thermos of coffee and hit the road in the new Subaru, destination Mt. Hood. Have I said how amazing it is to have this glorious dormant volcano so close to our house? Less than 80 early morning beautiful minutes later we were pulling up to my psychology professor’s cabin near the southern base of Mt. Hood right on the Salmon river. We met up with her, her son and another of my Fall term psych classmates for the snowshoeing adventure on X-Mas day.

Yes, that’s right. I spent X-Mas day with one of my professors, a total stranger, a former classmate and my wife. What strange bedfellows, no? Creating new traditions, connecting new peoples. Interesting to say the least. But I’m open to it. I like the newness, the uniqueness, the different nature of something like this. If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with…couldn’t have said it better than myself. Didn’t Jesus say that once? J

So we had a nice, filling late breakfast of bagels (a Jewish Christmas tradition), egg quiche, buttermilk drop biscuits and homemade grape jelly. Not bad, not bad. Then it was off to the trail. A short drive away, a couple thousand feet above snow level yet before we got to the ski resorts, we parked the car at the trailhead and found it packed with other crazies with the same idea! Except it was obvious these folks were much more professional about it. Grills, refrigerators, sleds, skis, beers, coffee…it was like a tailgating party at 4,000 feet!

Of course we started off the walk by getting lost immediately and having to cut through the backcountry and off trail to find our way back to where we needed to be. But half the fun of snowshoeing is going off trail! We had such a great time walking in the woods on the snow hearing hardly nothing, seeing occasional rabbit tracks. A winter wonderland where everything was covered in snow. The trees had their white jackets on. The land covered in a white blanket of snow. Mysterious humps and bumps. Random tracks of who knows what going off in various directions. The only animals we saw were a couple ravens cawing and digging for dinner in the snow. But above all was the muffled silence that a world wrapped in white cotton has. Sublime.

It was a hardy work out – 5 miles, 4 hours of walking. By the time we got around the frozen lake (which we could hardly see because it was snowing so hard), we were all spent. Muscles aching and sore, breathing hard. We were all surprised at how taxing walking in the snow can be. Fun, but tiring. Thankfully, we all stayed pretty warm from our workout and no one got too cold…even Leigh!

A defrost, several mug of strong coffee and stronger spirits and a great supper of tofu enchiladas, candied sweet potatoes and sautéed kale with lemon butter (can you guess it was a pot luck?) in the mountain cabin retreat and we were back on our feet and ready to head back to Portland for round 2: another dinner with friends and a White Elephant gift exchange.

Needless to say, we had a blast! The second round of food was even better than the first one and there were like 8 desserts too. One of which was this ridiculously rich and delicious non wheat chocolate cake with a raspberry crème freche that Leigh whipped up the night before. Jesus, I know it’s your birthday and all….but sweet little baby Jesus in the manger that was orgasmic to the mouth! And after dinner was a White Elephant gift exchange, which if you’ve never had the joy of having one, I highly recommend it. Everyone brings a present, usually the tackier or ‘re-gifted’ the better, you all draw numbers, then number 1 picks a present from the pile, number 2 can then take number 1’s present or pick from the pile, number 3 can then take 1 or 2’s or pick from the pile and so on until everyone gets a present. Obviously the one who draws the highest number gets his pick of anything….and that was me last night! Organic bath salts and 10 bars of homemade organic soap….come to daddy! Oh yeah….

So even though we missed the FIRST Christmas dinner hosted by my sister in her new house which seemed to bring the whole family out, Leigh and I still had a magical and memorable Christmas celebration full of adventure, beauty, laughter and fellowship. Might be time to start establishing this as a Christmas day tradition in our new two person family….

I hope everyone had great and sacred holidays!

With light and love from the Pacific NW,

Leigh and Jason

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