woodsmoke and snow

Even though it’s April, it’s still winter up here in Maine. There’s still snowpack in the forests, and large dirty banks by the side of the road, frost on my windshield when I go out to start my car. I don’t think you should be able to see your breath in April, but there it is. I went to the Richmond Sauna Saturday night and as I usually do, was able to glimpse a kind of perfect world there. The saunas are wood-fired, so no matter where you are you can smell the earthy scent of woodsmoke. I don’t think there is a finer smell anywhere. The people are companionable, everyone is relaxed and at ease, non-judging. The night air was cool and envigorating. Sitting in the hot tub, watching the steam rise up into the starry night sky, with a little jazz music coming from a speaker somewhere, the illumination like candlelight; this was heaven. The warmth, the woodsmoke, the steam, and the cool air all coalesced into something like eternal bliss. I lost myself a few times, closing my eyes and just being present and aware of all the sensations going on around me, just feeling, not thinking. I know I’m in the minority, and I know that perhaps like skydiving, some would never, ever consider an experience like this. And that’s fine. The phrase “at one with Nature” is probably overused, but these experiences are the closest I’ve ever come to that feeling. We all have our own pathways into wild nature, and I hope whatever way we take, we do so as often as possible.

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