Going Home to Rainier

My husband and I came back to Mount Rainier this weekend. We rented the Jimmy Beech House – the same house where my dad, Dee Molenaar, celebrated his 100th birthday two years ago. It felt good to be back. I remembered Dad surrounded by his old mountaineering friends and his family as they celebrated him. He sat in that chair and slept in that bed. And he laughed and reminisced and stuck his finger in the icing of his cake right over there.

It rained on us this weekend – buckets of wet fell from the sky and dumped on us – it was GREAT! While we were inside we drank tea and watched movies and The Seahawks and sat in front of the fire in the fireplace – it was very cozy. But we also went hiking, of course, because… well, that’s what hikers do, right? We drove up to Paradise on Saturday and did a quick hike up to Alta Vista to say hi to Mom and Dad’s ashes. It stopped raining for a bit and we watched the clouds drift by in the valley below us. When we got back down to Paradise it started snowing – great windy gusts of snow blowing in our faces and whipping around us – the first snowfall of the season there. We’d started a second hike, but turned around at Myrtle Falls because of the weather.

Today we drove back up to the park, but only went as far as Longmire this time. (When we entered the park we were told by the ranger lady that there was a lot of snow at Paradise now and traction tires were recommended. I’m glad we got up there yesterday.) So we did a quick easy hike on the Trail of Shadows loop and then hiked a bit up the Wonderland Trail towards Cougar Rock Campground.

I told my husband about a hike I remembered doing years ago in my twenties – Eagle Peak – and thought maybe that was something we could do while we were at Longmire – I remembered it as fairly easy. But when we checked it out we saw it was labeled “strenuous” and was more than seven miles long with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Which. What the heck?! I started sort of chuckling then, remembering my strong young self – and the adventures I used to have – going off by myself for a “quick hike” of some peak. I’m so glad I had those adventures! And I’m also really glad I survived them.

I didn’t mention my dad to strangers all weekend. This is kind of a big deal for me. Normally I find every opportunity to let people know I’m the daughter of a famous mountaineer and I used to work at Rainier and… and… did I mention I’ve climbed to the summit? But this weekend I kept all that a secret. I asked other people for directions. I played the part of the tourist. And it felt really good.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here are some photos from this weekend…

Tree Feathers and Swan Leaves

Tree feathers drifting
Swan leaves haloed
in sunlight slanting
through November’s
silver sky. The horns
and honks of happy
flapping trumpeters
and snow geese fills
the Skagit Valley.
This is my home.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Trumpeter Swans Fly over Skagit Valley

“I hope he’s not alone.”

Dad is in the kitchen when I get there, working on his breakfast. He looks up and sees me.
Dad: Hi, sweetie!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I don’t think I can today.
Karen: Oh. (I watch him eat for a while. It’s a long process these days. Eating takes a lot of energy.) What are you doing today?
Dad: I don’t know.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive or do you want to stay home and rest?
Dad: I’d rather go for a drive, but I don’t think the authorities will let me leave.
Karen: If you want to go for a drive we can go. (I let Gwen know that Dad’s up for a drive and she fetches his shoes and hat and gets him ready.)

We head out on today’s adventure. As we’re driving through Burlington I point to the autumnal trees…
Karen: See? The trees are changing color. It’s October. October is your favorite month, isn’t it?
Dad: (Nodding, as I point to the trees.) October is my favorite month.

First stop: Sisters Espresso. I get Dad his root beer float with the account that Dave Waka left for him there. Then I head for the backroads that will take us up to Bellingham through the autumn colors. I want to share this brilliant October day with Dad. We are surrounded in amber and gold, garnets and rubies, as we travel through tunnels of autumn trees.
Karen: Isn’t it beautiful, Daddy?!
Dad: (Nodding.) The yellow in the trees. Where are we going?
Karen: I thought we’d go to Lake Padden.
(I wind down backroads haloed in autumn gold until I reach Lake Padden. I pull over to take a couple of photos.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Padden.
Dad: (Nodding.) Padden.
(I sense Dad is getting tired now. It’s time to bring him home. At first I think I’ll use the backroads, again, to bring him home, but then as I near the exit to I-5…)
Dad: It’s time to be getting back.
(I exit onto the freeway.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Samish.
Dad: Dad is waiting by the side of the road. I hope he’s not alone.
Karen: Oh. No… (and I start to reassure Dad that I’m sure his father isn’t alone…)
Dad: I think they’re all teachers there. (He sounds reassured by this thought.)
Karen: Yes.

I bring Dad back to his home and pull in next to the front door.
Dad: What is this place?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: No, this isn’t my home.
Karen: Yup, it’s your home.
Dad: (Eyeing the house.) Is there anyone home?
(Just then Amanda appears at the top of the stairs and smiles at Dad. I see his face light up in recognition.)
Amanda: Hello!
Dad: (Smiling.) Hello!
(Amanda helps him into the house and up the stairs. She brings Dad to the door of his bedroom and he asks her if this is his room. She tells him yes and he goes in. Amanda helps lower him to the bed. Amanda leaves for a moment to help another resident.)
Dad: I’m supposed to meet my father.
Karen: (Trying to figure out which direction to go with this.) Dad, you’re 101.
Dad: I know that.
Karen: How old would your father be now?
Dad: (Frowning in thought.)
Karen: He’d be, like, 130 now, right?
Dad: (Thinking.) Yeah.
Karen: Daddy, your father died a month before I was born. He’s been dead more than 60 years. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a wonderful man.
Dad: But I saw him recently… (Tearing up.) My father is dead.
Karen: (Putting my arm around his shoulders.) But I still have my father. And I feel really blessed about that.
Dad: (Reassuring me.) I’ll be around for a while, yet.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

Photos from our drive –

Scenes from Olympia, Washington

Made a quick trip to Olympia, Washington so Scott could present his photojournalism expertise at a newspaper conference. Olympia is such a beautiful city. Farmers Market four days a week through October. Reflections of boats in the marina. The capitol building rising above Capitol Lake. And then we were up at the crack of dawn to get back home today – and look what we saw!

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

 

Things that Drift and Flutter and Twirl

I love things that gently drift
and flutter and twirl around me –
tawny maple leaves in autumn
and glittery snowflakes in winter,
cherry blossoms that pile up
in pink drifts in the spring
and butterflies flitting
among alpine flowers in summer.

But it is hard to get a picture of drifting,
fluttering, twirling stuff. So words are all
I’ve got. The end.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

It Was a Good Choice

We’d been waiting for a sunny weekend to go for our Table Mountain hike – and it just didn’t happen – so we finally gave up the whole idea of sunny skies and just went up to Mount Baker, anyway. It was a good choice. 🙂

 

 

Church with Moz

I took a drive up to Bellingham yesterday. I decided to avoid the freeway and stick to the back roads. I had a yearning to meander.

Mindy Jostyn’s album, In His Eyes, played on my CD player as I drove down roads arched and lined in gold. Autumn leaves drifted gently down around me. There was no hurry here.

The title song of Jostyn’s album began playing, and I thought of Moz as these words filled my car –

In His eyes, you’re a fire that never goes out
A light on the top of a hill
In His eyes you’re a poet, a painter, a prophet
With a mission of love to fulfill
Outside there’s a world so enchantingly strange
A maze of illusion and lies
But there’s never a story that ever could change
The glory of you in His eyes… 

Moz had loved that song. When she’d been lying on a hospital bed in my living room – her last day – I’d played Mindy Jostyn’s CD for her and I remember how, during that song, she’d gotten quiet and still – her breathing not labored – and her eyes had focused as she listened to the words. There’d been peace in the room.

And there was peace now in my car as the song played through the speakers. I could feel Moz with me. I felt surrounded by her expression of Love.

“The structure of Truth and Love…” is part of Mary Baker Eddy’s definition for “CHURCH” in the Christian Science textbook. And, listening to Mindy Jostyn’s song, I felt Moz and I coming together to have our own church service in my car. Under the golden trees. On a quiet country back road.

Autumn Road

Like Party Confetti

Gusting and pelting rain outside
and leaves of red and yellow
and orange are dancing
through the air like party confetti
and inside I’m cozy with a fire
in the woodstove and Earl Grey
tea beside me. I am content.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Gifts from the Wind

What gifts will today bring?
Yesterday I found laughter
with my students, and love
in a message, the music
of rain pattering on the window,
a cat waiting to be scratched
behind the ears and a dog
waiting for a walk. And on that
walk I found jewelry of  ruby
amber, gold and copper, blown
by the wind to the side
of the road.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“…today is big with blessings.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy

autumn leaves 3 this one