|Yesterday's amazing sky|
And then yesterday afternoon, I went to a concert that my friend Al, the leader of our Thursday hikes, had mentioned. It was a free concert at a local church, so I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was blown away by the Male Ensemble Northwest, a group of thirteen educators from around the Pacific Northwest, some local and some coming from as far away as Idaho. They get together four or five times a year to practice, and all of them teach, elementary to college level. They are good friends, and next month they will travel to Thailand for their first international concert series. From their website:
While a high level of artistry is always an important goal, the members of MEN value the professional and personal associations they have with each other. It is important that the personal soul is fed as well as the artistic.It showed in their performance: starting out with regular chorale singing, by the time they were finished they had the entire audience standing and clapping, with one song even miming the playing of instruments. One talented fellow, Justin Raffa, was able to sound like a piccolo! I sure enjoyed this, as you can tell, and if you visit their page you can also find out more about them. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it's worth going out of your way to hear them.
Last Thursday's hike up to Church Mountain was a memorable one, too. Our first hike of the autumn season was spectacular with fall scenery, and the group size of eight made it easy to visit with everybody. We were without our leader, Al, who was a little under the weather, and I think that might be why I ended up with such sore legs afterwards. Al sets a very nice slow pace, and without him I think we climbed the incredible 4,000 feet of elevation at a faster pace than usual. Or maybe it was the downhill, who knows? All I know is that when I got out of bed on Friday morning, I hurt just about everywhere, but especially my quadricep muscles. Today, Sunday, they are much, much better. The five-mile walk yesterday helped work out the kinks, too.
I am so glad that I can still do such difficult hikes as Church Mountain, and I know there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when I'll be lucky to hike to the meadow rather than making it all the way to the top, but as long as I'm able, I'll keep going. It not only feeds my need for exercise, but my soul as well. Someone told me about the concept of "forest bathing" or the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku. That link will take you to a Washington Post article about the practice. From the article by Meeri Kim:
A number of scientific studies emphasize that reveling in the great outdoors promotes human health. Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory and feeling more alive, among other positive attributes.I can certainly attest to feeling more alive after a time in the wilderness. In fact, my Thursday hikes are sacrosanct: it takes a lot for me to miss one, even in the rain and wind. We only have another month, at best, to play in the High Country, and then for late fall and winter, we'll move to the lowlands. But we will still go out on Thursdays to play in the beautiful outdoors. I do think it keeps me healthy.
One hike I'll miss will be in early October, because I'll be heading off to Vashon Island with my blogging buddies for our fifth adventure together. It's hard to believe that it's been five years already since I met my fellow bloggers for a three-day retreat to the island. We have since expanded our time together to five full days, and I look forward to it with anticipation. We will miss having one person with us (we started out as six), but she lives in Colorado and the rest of us are more locally situated. Plus the six-bedroom farmhouse we rent for the period has one bedroom that is not as comfortable as the others, so we will not have to use it. Everyone has her own room at the Lavender Hill Farm. Being surrounded by lavender fields is also a real bonus.
My dreams during this past week have been vivid, for whatever reason. I met an old friend in one dream, and she's been hanging around with me ever since. Although it's someone I had a difficult time with for years, in my dream we made up and became close again. And probably because of the concert yesterday, I dreamt last night about an old favorite song that has been playing inside my head. When I was young, my parents had a stereo system and a collection of albums (remember those?). One that I particularly liked was The Ink Spots. They were a black vocal group popular in the 1930s and 1940s. They have been a presence in my life ever since. The song that I keep hearing in my head is called "If I Didn't Care," and I found it on YouTube. Here it is, and I apologize for the lead-in commercial, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I've listened to this a couple of times now.
And with that, I've finished another post. As usual, I wish all the best to you, my dear readers, for the week ahead. Now that we in the Northern Hemisphere are in the autumnal season, with leaves falling off the trees and painting our pathways, I hope that path will take you to some walks in the great outdoors. And I always have to remember that some of my readers are beginning their springtime. What a great world we live in!