- Forest Fast
Hail is falling sluggishly, too wet to bounce, too warm to
stick. I could have kept working outside, but it seems like a
good time to take a break. It's nearly noon and I've been busy
since five this morning. I don't know whether early to bed,
early to rise will really make me healthy, wealthy or wise, but
it does give me a head start on the day and that's kind of fun.
The fact is, there isn't much to do out here in the woods in the
evening - read a little and turn in early is about it - and
after seven or eight hours sleep I'm ready to get up even if it
is four or five o'clock.
morning I worked on the computer, separating and sorting
some of the thousands of scanned photos I have on the
hard drive. Shortly before I left Rhode Island, I hired
a couple of women to scan every single photographic
print I've accumulated in my life, which are legion!
Now, a little at a time, I get to work with them on a
number of levels, improving many as can only be done
digitally. This can include re-cropping, sharpening,
repairing, sometimes erasing extraneous objects,
adjusting brightness and contrast, color balance, hues
& saturation, and more. It's a fun project and I get
to revisit all those people and places as I go.
Eventually, I may use some of them in stories I hope to
write. Meanwhile, I'll email the occasional shot to a
friend or family member when I think they'll get a kick
got light out and warmed up a bit this morning, I set out to
prepare a fire pit to heat rocks for the sweat lodge I
discovered near my campsite. This Twin Arrows camping area has
been picked over for firewood, but along the broad, rock and
boulder strewn riverbed are clusters of driftwood ranging from
bracken & branches to entire tree trunks. It's a workout
collecting and carting bundles of wood over such uneven terrain,
but one load at a time I'm gathering the reserves I'll need to
super-heat the stones for the sweat.
is part of a fast I'm undertaking. I have fasted occasionally
since my early twenties. I believe it's good for the body, mind
and spirit, all of which in my case can use a nudge in the right
direction from time to time. Spending time alone in the forest -
with no people, few distractions and the uplifting omnipresence
of nature - seems like what I crave most at the moment. The
fasting is simply taking it a step further. After five years of
conducting full-time, hardcore business I feel an urge to mark
the end of that life and the beginning of, or reconnection with,
a gentler reality. This fast is a cleansing, a shedding of all
the stress, aggravation, negativity and sheer brute effort that
was so much a part of what I was doing in Rhode Island, an
emptying of the vessel so that it can be refilled with something
sweeter. Of course, it's likely to clean out my intestinal
tract, too, and that's just plain healthy. Won't hurt me to lose
a few pounds, either.
method to fasting, at least as I perceive and practice it. I
began preparing for this one a few days ago by limiting my diet
to vegetarian foods. No animals or animal products, no junk.
Today I'm eating only fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, and not
much of them. Tomorrow I begin a few of days of just juices -
grape and prune juice (organic, not from concentrate). This
serves to flush out the intestines. When purple grape juice goes
in one end and comes out the other looking much the same, then
I'll be ready for the water-fasting stage.
augmented with enemas, at least one a day. This is surely my
least favorite part of the whole thing, but I believe it's
necessary. If you don't cleanse the colon thoroughly when
fasting, you begin digesting and assimilating old, hardened
waste matter that's in there cached on the intestinal walls, and
that releases toxins that make you feel weak and sick. This
internal cleansing is one big difference between fasting and
juice is finished I'll water-fast for one to three days,
depending on how I feel about it. Then to break the fast I'll
essentially reverse the process, easing my body back with
juices, then raw fruits and vegetables, then vegan meals and,
eventually, back to my normal eating habits. I'm reading a book
right now titled, "SuperFoods Rx" by a nutritionist
doctor named Steven Pratt. It's persuading me to clean up my
eating act in the future and, if not cut out all the
"bad" stuff, at least add more health-promoting foods
to my diet.
is supposed to help cleanse the body, the perspiration drawing
out residual toxins. Finding that sweat lodge literally at my
doorstep was a real treat. I've been visualizing myself doing
this fast in this setting for months, long before I quit
working. I often pictured this exact spot at Twin Arrows,
remembering it from when I lived in Mount Shasta. I imagined I
would build a small sweat lodge down on the riverbank. What a
thrill it was to see that the universe had managed to provide it
for me already constructed, exactly where and when I had seen it
in my mind's eye. It was a kind of affirmation that I'm on the
right track to living right. All I have to do is supply the
firewood, and that's what I'm doing now. In fact, the weather
has eased off so I'm going to get back to it.
day I rode my mountain bike down to a sprawling patch of forest
known locally as Smiling Buddha. Covering maybe a hundred acres,
the forest there is a warren of branching dirt tracks with
cleared campsites spaced well apart. My route gradually took me
downhill to the riverbank, which I paralleled for a while before
starting back up again. I spent an hour or more biking all
through Smiling Buddha. It was a good workout and fun to do. I
saw only two occupied campsites this early in the season (in the
summertime many will be in use on any given day). These two were
back near the entrance, each with a parked car and a pup tent.
It was drizzling on & off at the time and I didn't see
anyone about. Deeper into the woods I discovered a sweat lodge
frame, larger and better-built than the one near my campsite. No
doubt it's waiting for it's builders to return to use it again,
and meanwhile could serve anyone else willing to bring out
blankets and tarps to cover it.
lodge at Twin Arrows is humble by comparison, but better suited
to one or two people because it's small. Besides, it's already
covered, even if only with a couple of plastic tarps and a layer
of pine bows. I'll use it soon. What I hope is ample firewood is
now stacked and ready by a fire pit I resurrected on the stony
riverbank a few yards from the lodge. I've kept the wood covered
with a plastic tarp since I collected it, to keep off the
still early spring in the Cascade Mountains. I caught the tail
end of some prematurely warm and sunny weather when I arrived in
Mount Shasta eight days ago, but since the middle of last week
it has been chilly and damp, with intermittent rain and even
some hail and snow, even down here at 3,500 feet elevation. I
believe it snowed in earnest the other night just a little
higher up, at around 4,500 feet.
looking forward to full-blown, sunny & mild,
flower-blossoming, great-to-be-outside spring, having had only
two brief glimpses of it since I left Rhode Island a month ago.
Spring will surely come, and when it does I'll head north.
this is about as fine a place as I can imagine to wait it out.
Here is the view outside my camper window at this moment, though
I'm afraid the photo doesn't do the place justice. You can't
hear the whooshing of the river as it cascades over a million
stones, or smell the sweet scent of pine that permeates the
clean mountain air. As gloomy as it can get when the clouds
lower and thicken and the rain pours, it is still a welcomed and
welcoming place to be.