Picnic At Heart Lake
The next day, as promised, my four new friends assembled in the kitchen of the hostel and whisked me off to a mountain idyll. They discussed at length the pros and cons of ascending Mount Shasta itself. Panther Meadows, famous as the site of the first vision of Saint Germain on Mount Shasta, is still snowbound at the end of June. We would, instead, swim in the crystal waters of Heart Lake, and gaze upon the great volcano from the west. Therefore, they said, I must return to Mount Shasta during the month of August, next time, when the meadows are open and drumming can be heard everywhere on Mount Shasta, particularly on the night of the full moon. But first, we must fill our water bottles at the city park, at the headwaters of the spring.
Apparently many citizens of Mount
Shasta come regularly to the spring to fill up
We drove for about thirty minutes into the mountains west of Mount Shasta City and alighted from the car at Castle Lake. Here is the crew, with the Magic Mountain behind them:
Chief, Judy, Kim, and Ariel
Ariel, agile as a deer, lead us up a forest trail onwhich I kept remembering the activity that uses the most calories is climbing stairs. Ah, but the fragrances of the forest and intriguing formations of stone distracted me. Tiny moutain flowers bloomed abundantly in a variety of pastels. Soon we were looking down upon Castle Lake, and out across to Black Butte, an enormous cinder cone directly west of Mount Shasta. I paused to take a photo, and my cell phone rang. It was Teresa, the event coordinator at Bluestockings, a feminst bookstore in New York City, confirming my booksigning there for 7 PM on October 3. Happiness piled upon happiness, like the hexagram Joyous Lake.
Hiking opens vistas of conversation as well. I learned that Kim and Judy both paint. Ariel and Chief love to tell stories and ponder the state of the world. Judy and Chief met over the internet in a Hari Krishna chat room. The afternoon passed agreeably. Ariel bounded ahead, again, and semaphored us triumphantly from the top of a rock outcropping that overlooked Heart Lake.
I, too, felt triumphant standing at the top of the outcropping, which overlooked Mount Shasta and God. Naturally, I whipped out the digital camera...
...and then faced the other direction and photographed Heart Lake, with Kim in the foreground.
Yes, that is snow on the hillside to the west of the lake.
The rock ledge in the notch of the heart provided a launching pad for skinnydipping and a smooth sunbathing deck. Some friends of Judy and Chief's arrived before us, including two toddlers who had made the climb unassisted, and cheerfully at that, complete with teddy-rattlesnake in tow, and a dog. I got into the water very gradually and did not stay long, but Ariel swam laps in the snow-fed waters.
We all presented the victuals in our packbacks and assembled an smorgasboard of finger foods, enought to satisfy everyone, except the dog, who salivated enviously, particularly at my baked tofu. His owners assured me this was no reflection on his actual frequency of meals.
We merrily descended the mountain with more stories and exclamations over the beauty through which we walked, and drove back to town singing along to John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance. We decided to reconvene for dinner at a house just north of Mount Shasta, outside of town, which Judy and Chief were caretaking for friends. On the way, I took a look at Judy's paintings. I loved them.
The Nature of Love by Judy Marie Silverbirch
A Buddhist couple handbuilt this home
of wood and stone in the forest looking east
...along with an abundance of occult
stories and a talent show.
Susan read from her illustrated book of limericks and sang original songs, all of which were lovely; for twenty-one years she made her living busking in the subways playing an accordion and singing. Joel, too, played guitar and sang original songs, and Daisy and Mista, when not giggling uproariously, danced along to the music. I played and sang some songs I don't usually play at booksignings. Susan and Joel retold the home births of their three children (the older two are twenty-one and eighteen already). They have wilder tales, too. Trapped in a tent by an overnight snowstorm on Mount Shasta, they struggled for three days to escape. Believing they were doomed, they kissed one another goodbye, and then suddenly met what looked sort of like a Maui guy--strolling in shorts and zorries, carrying a child's sand shovel, who led them to a tent with a heater and fed them a delicious hot soup. They fell asleep, and awoke in Panther Meadow to the sound of a snow plough clearing the road and a truck full of friends behind who had come up to find them.
On July 3rd, I received this wonderful poem from Chief.