I come from Seattle, the land of huge expanses of water. To the west and south there is Puget Sound, a body of water so vast that outsiders think it’s the ocean. To the east is Lake Washington, and to the north, Lake Union. The city is, literally, surrounded by water.
I spent much of my time, while growing up, on the beach where my great grandparents lived—on an island that sits in the bay between Seattle and Tacoma. I learned to swim almost before I could walk. I had my own row boat that I’d take out to the middle of the Sound, where I’d tie up to a buoy and fish all day.
As an adult, my favorite vacation was to pack my dog in the car and head to the Oregon Coast where I’d spend two weeks of bliss, walking the beaches and reading.
I’d always heard there were ocean people and mountain people. I was definitely the former, no question. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to live any distance away from the water. It seemed to define me. And I had no interest in mountains. I wasn’t a skier and I wasn’t particularly fond of snow. That was all I knew of mountains and I was simply not interested.
But now I find myself living at 8500 feet in the mountains of northern New Mexico far, far away from any large body of water. And I don’t miss it. No one is more surprised than I. I didn’t dream of coming here. I didn’t even plan it. But here I am. And I’m happy.
I’ve believed that one of the reasons I don’t miss the ocean is because these mountains in which I live have spent the greater part of the earth’s history under water—under the ocean. If you look you can find fossils of shells in these hills and valleys. So my reasoning has been that I don’t miss the ocean because I’m still living in ocean energy.
Anna, who grew up on an island in Sweden, feels we don’t miss the water because Truchas sits up high on a ridge of land with sweeping views out over the valley—much like the kinds of expansive views one sees over open water.
I really don’t know the answer but, the fact is, I love my mountain home. I feel I am “of the mountains” now and perhaps have always been. While I still don’t ski, I have come to love the snow. It gives us lush springs and summers with its gift of water. I know how to drive in it now, who to call to plow my road. I have snowshoes and a wood heater—everything I need to maintain a friendly relationship with it. My heart is always lifted when I look outside to see snow falling. And it is so beautiful, blanketing everything in white, changing the landscape into a winter wonderland, until it melts again.
I don’t know if I still believe there are ocean people vs. mountain people. Perhaps we’re all a little of each. Maybe we are, more accurately, “of the earth,” adapting to wherever we land, not wedded to one thing over the other.
I still love the water. I’m going back to Vashon Island this summer to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday and I can’t wait to sit on the beach, to take in twilight on the bay. But I’m connected to my mountain home, too. I love both. And I’m deeply grateful to have been led here, because I wouldn’t have come on my own, of my own volition. The universe knew I needed to experience the mountains. So it brought me here.
I walk out on the land grant in the crystalline air. I study the storms as they shift across the enormous sky above me. I embrace the mountains which are so much more than I could have ever known without living in them. And I cherish my water heritage. A girl of the islands living high in the mountains. What could be more balancing than that?
Love to you all,