There are moments in life when I feel untethered happiness, a contentment that few things can produce.
Things to do that bring me peace:
- Picking wild mushrooms in the fall, the smell of decay through the autumn forest. Chanterelles with their buttery flavor. Lobsters for their color and dense flesh. Morels simply because their authenticity in cooking is unrivalled. Gathering food from the forest.
- Making cheese on a farm in Central Oregon in October. Walking over a pasture of clover with the cows that were milked that morning. Watching and tending their milk to become something preserved for the winter, to develop tastes and deep flavors. Developing an art in the hills and getting ready for winter.
- Working with wood for burning, preparing to heat the house through the coming winter.
- Harvesting the vegetables from the garden, digging with purpose but gently through the potato bed, sifting the dirt with your fingers. Digging up the garlic, the beets and carrots. Plucking the last of the kale leaves for a salad with friends.
- Spending days in the forest hunting deer and elk. Hoping that eating something you kill is at least as noble as not killing at all. The smell of the forest as it settles into another long winter, the sound of squirrels performing their own harvest. The thrill every so often when a noise on the forest floor has you convinced that you will have an animal in the freezer this winter that came from the sweat and sin of your own hands.
- Moving deeply through the forest, that smell alone too much of a drug, the softness of the light as the sun sets behind the mountains, the cobwebs that never seem to subside flowing from branch to branch, so much life in the absence of movement, an incomprehensible joy in the trees, the clean, cold air, the soft forest floor that accepts your steps in silence and forgets instantly that you were there.
If only to crawl into the very fabric of the universe and settle in, disappear into that complete goodness and forget that one existed at all. We are unnecessary to the joy of the world.