pages fly away 11

Crater Lake is a volcanic lake, and at nearly two thousand feet, the deepest one in America.  The Klamath tribe believed that a battle between the Sky God and the Lord of the Underworld led to the collapse of Mount Mazama and the formation of the lake.  It is considered to be the adobe of the Great Spirit and is a prime destination for those embarking on a vision quest, full of danger and great beauty, capable of shocking one into awareness.

The park was open when I arrived at the crack of dawn.  I may have been the first visitor of the day.  I parked outside Rim Village, hoping to get a cup of coffee, but the store was still closed.  I drove over to the side of the lake and got out of the car.  The sun was just beginning to rise over the rim of the crater.  It was cold enough to keep my hood up and my hands inside my pockets.

The water in Crater Lake is known to be bluer than blue, like the blue Kia, the Mountain Bluebird, that I’d rented for the journey.  The sky was blue.  The lake was blue.  The day was already a triumph of blue.  Below I could see the cinder cone, known as Wizard Island.  There were pine branches overhead, and pine trees beneath me.  The white all-seeing eye of the sun continued its ascent.  I sat on a stump and tried to meditate, or at least just stay in the moment.

There was hardly a sound.  A few birds.  My fingers and toes were numb with cold.  Before long, they begin to warm.  The sun was growing larger, starting to radiate and expand.  A drowsy fly came to life and began to buzz around my face.  Is that one of the constants of meditation?  That a fly has to buzz around your face and try to get up your nose?  I heard the swish of car tires behind me.  Then another and another.  I was no longer alone in the park, nor was I alone in my mind.  I resented the car full of tourists who parked nearby and got out with noisy voices.  Were they trying to ruin my good thing?  If not for them, and the fly, and all of my thoughts, I could probably get into the zone.  This was definitely the place to do it.

Though I was mediating, I didn’t want to broadcast that fact, like the guy at Clam Beach, by wrangling my limbs into a cross-legged lotus, nor would I pinch my thumbs and forefingers together and rest them on my knees in a receptive mudra position.  If anything, I wanted to make it look like I was just sitting there resting, possibly thinking, because that’s about all I was doing, sitting there thinking, about the fly and the voices I could hear, where’d I’d drive to next, where I’d stop for the night.  What could I see that afternoon?  No.  No.  I had to pull myself back and begin to count all over.  Wasn’t just being there better than anything?

After getting back on the road, I stopped at a few viewpoints, most notably The Watchman, which provided a different view of the lake.   There were many tourists in the parking lot, all strangers in real life, humbled by the power of nature, observing a temporary cease-fire, interacting with courtesy and respect, as long as the moment lasted. 

I got back in the car and got on the 97, racing north towards the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, which looked to be three hours away, passing through La Pine and Bend along the way.  At Madras, I got onto the 26.  It was just fifteen miles from there.

My greatest fear was that a majority, or even some of the reservations, would be closed to outsiders because of the pandemic.  The worst of it may have passed, but many places were still being extra careful.  I had a mask in my pocket and sometimes put it on, depending on where I was at.  It would’ve sucked, but not surprised me at all, if I’d pulled up at Warm Springs and couldn’t get in. 

Instead, the only thing impeding my progress was a major construction job on the road leading into the agency, where cars were lined up in each direction, waiting for a pickup truck to guide them through.  That I could deal with.  At least they were still letting people in.

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