Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fire or water?

Last weekend my sweetie and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Metolius River in Central Oregon. Well, I say annual because we've been going every year since 2006, but we didn't make it last year, so returning this year was especially lovely, like greeting an old friend.

Here are some random pics:

Closeup of Ponderosa bark; I used to call these "puzzle trees" when I was a kid, because the bark looks like a jigsaw puzzle. My favorite pines.

Near the head of the Metolius River, just below our campsite

Very late purple trillium near Cabot Lake

Black Butte from the Cabot Lake trail

 On the Cabot Lake trail, which goes through part of the B & B fire area in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. That's Mt. Jefferson off to the right.

Shabbat citronella candle blessings

 This trip brought us into proximity with both fire and water. Fire because we hiked a trail to Cabot Lake through part of the area that burned in the B & B fire in 2002, and water because of the Metolius, of course, and Scout Lake, our favorite swimming hole nearby.

 So it occurred to me to wonder, one night while I was watching our campfire, whether watching fire or watching water, especially the ocean, creates different states of contemplation. Watching either can easily hypnotize me for awhile, and there's little I find more relaxing than gazing into the snapping flames of a campfire, or seeing the eternal ebb and flow of ocean waves.

But the hypnotic state created isn't the same, at least not for me. When I watch a fire, I don't usually find myself contemplating anything in particular. Perhaps it's the mercurial, elusive nature of flame (as soon as you fix your eye on it, it moves or disappears). I'm just drawn into the fire itself and my mind doesn't fix on any specific ideas or thoughts. Whereas when I sit and watch the ocean, often my mind will turn towards the big eternal questions of existence, or at least to thoughts about particulars in my own life. Perhaps it's the regular rhythm of waves that creates this state of mind.

What about you? Do fire and water stimulate different thoughts (or lack thereof) in your head? Or similar ones? What happens for you?

No comments: