For those of you living in parts of the country oppressed by heat waves and wild fires this year, I’m sure summer can’t be over soon enough to suit you. But in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the season is short (typically July 5 through early September) and therefore, precious.
My husband and I took advantage of this last gasp of summer to head to Mt. Rainier National Park – just a couple of hours down the road from us – to spend a few delightful days of hiking, camping, and generally communing with nature. The weather was perfect. The wildflowers were out. Do you see why this place is called Paradise?
She had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer… No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “Oh, my dear, dear aunt,” she rapturously cried, “what delight! What felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and mountains? Oh, what hours of transport we shall spend?” (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 27)
Like Elizabeth, we looked forward to getting away from the stress of daily life, to recharge our batteries and glimpse again the bigger picture. A magnificent mountain looming before you by day and a universe full of stars blanketing the sky overhead at night tends to put things in clearer perspective. But I digress…
No doubt you are wondering about the odd title of this post, so here’s how the story goes:
Yesterday morning, we went on another hike (to the viewpoint called Faraway Rock). As usual, my “once a boy scout; always a boy scout” husband was on alert as we strode purposefully along. He was watching for wildlife, or at least wildlife sign. He alertly spotted deer tracks in the dirt. Then he explained that an overturned log we saw in an alpine meadow was proof that a bear had been there, foraging for grubs on the log’s rotten underside. Finally, he pointed to some nondescript debris on the trail.
“What?” I said, unimpressed by the small pile of gray, fuzzy matter.
“Old coyote scat. It’s all washed away except the mouse fur.”
I was amazed. How did he know that? Oh, yeah. I guess any boy scout worth his merit badges knows coyotes frequently dine on mice, and that the indigestible fur subsequently shows up in their excrement, which any true outdoorsman would call “scat.”
I continued to think about that line as we hiked along in silence. It’s all washed away except the mouse fur. Then it struck me that it was a great analogy for the end of summer (stay with me, now), especially with the first precipitation in 50 days forecast. Soon summer would be washed away with the return of the rains, and nothing will be left of it… except the mouse fur?
Okay, I admit that part of the analogy threw me for a minute. Then I realized what the mouse fur symbolized! When we are soon sent spiraling down into the cold, harsh realities of winter once more, the only thing we will have left of our lovely summer just past is the warm, fuzzy memory of happier days. Warm and fuzzy = mouse fur. Get it?
“It’s all washed away except the mouse fur.”
“Why, it’s pure poetry!” you cry out. “Philosophically profound!”
Am I right? But remember, I can’t take all the credit. The original words of wisdom came from my darling husband. He had no idea at the time he uttered them that they would inspire me so.
Who knows? I may feature more of his sage sayings in future blog posts! Or maybe I should stick with Jane Austen. What do you think?