I realize it must sound silly. How can it be possible that I just witnessed my first spring? But I bet, most of you have never really witnessed spring before either, not like this. I watched it happen, day by day until the landscape was completely transformed. I saw it, I felt it, and was taken back by the miracle of it.
I had the incredible pleasure of spending a month in one place, with nothing more than a tent as my shelter and a wonderful requirement that I spend every day outside. Every day, all day, outside. When was the last time you spent more than 1 day outside, let alone a month of consecutive days? There was nothing to distract me, no tv, no internet, no cars, no streets, no lights other than the sun, the moon or a fire, no ac to cool me off, no heat to warm me up, no walls to hide behind, no weather report to check. Just me...and that beautiful world.
It happened slow, and now I understand why I've always missed it. It was the little things like the sun waking up 5 mins earlier and going to sleep 5 minutes later...before I knew it those few minutes turned into hours of more daylight. The mountains that were once white, were less while, and less white, and less white until just patches of snow were left in the shadiest places and the rocks below the snow were bare. First it was one tree with little green shoots, then it was a couple trees then magically they weren't just sticks but entire green coats of leaves hung on the all the trees branches in the entire valley. The flowers showed up in patches of what was once just dirt or grass. Little pink ones, and purple ones and blue and white and yellow and red ones. Berries too felt it was time to join in. I toured the green house on days off...it was just dirt the last time I was in there, and now there are sprouts everywhere....and it's time to hunt and harvest some wild mushrooms.
The weather changed too. Less days of rain...less random storms of hail or snow. More sun, with those funny little puffy clouds and not the heavy ominous grey ones. The wind picked up. At first it felt like ice cutting through all my layers straight to my bones. By the time it was time for me to leave, it was refreshing after working in the sun. I needed less layers of clothing, and those midnight runs to pee were less painful. I think I saw the last dustings of snow....and maybe the last mornings of pipes and bottles frozen shut. Sometimes I'd wake up and there wouldn't be ice on my tent, or if there was, it would melt within moments of the sun touching it.
It was incredible for me to see the differences of the same view in the span of 3 days, 1 week, 3 weeks. This valley, as amazing as it was the first time I layed eyes on it, had come alive. Literally, blooming everywhere I looked; even the creeks swelled and grew with the mountain run off.
So it took me 27 years to experience, really experience my first spring. I think I will remember it always, because during that transformation, that valley wasn't the only thing that changed. Part me softened a bit too, learned to love the sound of quiet, appreciate the scent of rich heavy earth, find joy in watching my own breath, and the taste of water right from a river. I learned that in my first spring, there's a lot of stuff I really don't need, that this existence can be a whole lot simpler and by becoming simpler, it can actually become that much more fulfilling. I left a part of my heart in Valle Chacabuco. I hope, that if I ever forget the wonderful things my first spring taught me, that valley will still be there, just as perfect and peaceful as it always has been.
Yeah, I left a part of my heart in Valle Chacabuco, and I'm already trying to figure out ways to be sure I can get back there.