I drive highway 285. I head west. A triple shot latte, perfectly poured fuels my drive. The sun reflects on the snow, a blanket of splintered diamonds. The road snakes through the canyon, inducing a meditative state of being. Follow the road, follow the breath. My mind begins to unwind, I feel my heart beating. I am Orvis bound. It was my original New Year plan but the week after Christmas I wavered. The practical, let’s be reasonable part of myself was pressuring me into staying home. You don’t have the money! But I longed for spaciousness, for the view of South Park and its wide embrace. I wanted to feel the solidity and comfort of the San Juan Mountains, the peace and stillness of winter on the western slope.
So I left it up to synchronicity. I had waited until the last minute, I needed a room, I needed a milagro! Canyon Creek. A beautiful little B & B in Montrose, a short drive to Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway. If they had the “Idarado” room with the claw foot bathtub available on New Years Eve and New Years Day then I would take it as a sign and pack my car. It was available! I felt the gypsy in me return, my love of pilgrimage and adventure. I wanted to be in the sanctuary of nature, to honor the sacred, to float on my back and stare at stars that float in an indigo sky.
Monarch pass is icy and snow packed, the trees bow under the weight of newly fallen snow. The air is “see your breath” cold. Mountains tower, their summits shroud in fast moving clouds, the world has gone white, my mind blank. Impermanence. Nature is a perfect reflection of the temporal, the fleetingness of life. I feel small and feral, and strangely comforted by my own mortality. Space lends perspective, and in the vastness of this land the challenges of the past few months seem as transient as the thin ice on Blue Mesa. A sense of timelessness emerges. My body relaxes as my consciousness expands. The observer has returned. The boundary between myself, and what I see and experience disappears.
Canyon Creek sits on Main St. in Montrose, Colorado. A beautiful, and lovingly restored historical home. Big windows, wood floors, leather chairs and sofa, bookshelves filled with books and mementos of an explored life. A colorful painting of “Bo” the endearing little Yorkie that greets me at the door hangs in the dining room against a bordeaux wall, a wedding gift from one of their guests. Warm and inviting, peaceful and relaxing I am immediately at home. My room is painted in a perfect shade of cappuccino. In the bathroom the original sink and tub, gleam
claw foot heaven
against cinnamon walls and refinished wood floors, a bathing oasis. Black framed photos, soft linens, down pillows, fluffy white towels, and robe. Heaven! I have never before gone on a holiday by myself and actually stayed in a room and not a tent. Pure luxury. I stay long enough to unpack my bag, and head for my primary destination, Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgway.
It is New Years Eve, it is 5:30 pm and the temperature is dropping rapidly as the sun begins to set. I pay the woman behind the counter for time to soak, she informs me that my girlfriend Kimmie has paid for a massage with Jodi at 7:30 in the Aspen yurt, an early 50th birthday present! The night is clear, the snow capped mountains glow in an otherworldly violet hue. I shed my clothes in a heap and climb into the “lobster pot” a 110 to 112 degree rock pool. I submerge my body. I float weightlessly. My hair freezes within minutes of surfacing, icicle locks. I love this feeling, of fire and ice. Snow layers precariously on the wooden fence, in linear perfection. The sauna beckons. It is filled with refugees from winter, naked and sweating. We are strangers who have converged from various points on the map to experience the “blue moon” on New Years Eve, a once in every 19 years phenomenon. By the time I leave the sauna the moon is just beginning to appear in the east. My inner voice was insistent that I go to the main pool where I sit on a ledge of stone on the north end. I look to see the luminosity of the moon coming through the trees. The light is refracted as it merges into the mist rising from the water. It begins to form snowflake like patterns that are a metamorphic wonder. They hover in a three dimensional configuration . Then another cloud of mist appears and the pattern becomes layered. The aura of the moon colors the light golden and I am transfixed. The presence of the light transforms my very soul. I have never felt anything like it. It is absolutely the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. It only appeared to be happening where I was sitting, so I told those nearest to me to come closer so that they too could see it. They were simply awe struck. We sat in silence, in holy communion. I cupped my hands with water and watched the moon float in my palm.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was filled with such joy and gratitude, so grateful. Then Jodi called my name and I walked the sandstone path covered in ice and snow, feet sticking to the ground, steam rising from my body. The yurt small and round, warmed by a stove working overtime. I climb onto a heated table under a layer of sheets. Jodi’s hands are skilled and nourishing, she works intuitively and in silence. I surrender. I surrender to the moment, to the softness of my breath, to the stillness. I arrive. This place over the years has become my refuge, a place to experience the natural world. I feel at home beneath the stars, where the full moon creates daylight out of darkness, where coyotes serenade the night. I am dependent on the benevolence of life to sustain me, to keep me woven into this great weave that is life. A single strand, a wave in the ocean, a star in the sky, a tree in the forest, a rock on the mountain. I am the whole and I am the part.
Orvis closes at 10:00 pm. As I leave the driveway my headlights capture shimmering crystals, suspended in air, something else I have never seen. I love nothing more than feeling the presence of magic in my life. I suddenly feel as if the entire night has been a milagro. I had declared earlier in the week that 2010 was going to be the “year of the milagros.” The year of miracles, of fateful encounters, uncommon graces, the happenstance that makes life an adventure! Synchronicity and fortuitous experiences are going to be my fare. This is only the beginning…
Written: January 6, 2010